OS/2 Article on The Register

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OS/2 Article on The Register

Postby Nuke » Tue Nov 27, 2012 9:38 am

Interesting two-part article on OS/2 from the point of view of an insider at the time :-

www.theregister.co.uk/2012/11/23/why_os ... _part_one/

www.theregister.co.uk/2012/11/26/os2_final_fail/

He gives a picture of utter disconnection between different divisions of IBM, and utter failure to appreciate the direction in which IT was moving.

OS/2 was good, I ran it for several years, and it could have become the standard for PCs if IBM's top management had been as bright as its own developers.

One thing puzzles me, the recent discussions on OS/2 (being its 25th anniversary) all complain how expensive it was. I do not recall that. In fact I remember at one point at least (in the UK) it being cheaper tham DOS + Windows 3.1, even the version with a copy of Windows built into it (which ran in a VM), yet people still bought Windows. OS/2 did like memory though - at £100 per Mb!).

They marketed that version as "OS/2 for Windows" - as if OS/2 were just some front end instead of a OS built from the ground up. It was really "Windows for OS/2". I despaired at that description. At the time, all sorts of software was being sold "for Windows" (eg "WordPerfect-for-Windows") and I felt that if things had come to such a pass that nothing in IT could be sold unless it had "For Windows" somewhere on it (I'm looking at a sticker on my laptop right now), then OS/2 was doomed.

It has taken so far 25 years for the "Windows" gloss even to begin to fade for Joe Sixpack.
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Postby guy » Tue Nov 27, 2012 4:30 pm

I recall OS/2 being expensive in the early days. It was pushed as a better Windows than Windows itself, so to the corporate mind that naturally demanded a higher price.

Its market failure was publicly ascribed to endemic Windows compatibility bugs that could not be fixed because Microsoft were not forthcoming with the necessary licenses. (Probably MS Office compatibility to be more accurate, but it was kind of hard to draw the line in those days).

I can't recall if OS/2 actually contained MS code - it may well have done - but it certainly incorporated Microsoft IP at a very deep level. IBM had concluded that this was the only way to achieve the compatibility that was essential to its success. Once it started to become a real competitor to Windows, MS fixed and updated Windows but made the necessary license updates prohibitively expensive and IBM balked (or, did MS refuse outright? It was a long time ago). IBM were outraged at MS breaking a promise to make this stuff available, but as it was only a promise and not a contract, IBM were stuffed. So OS/2 became outdated and permanently flakey under the bonnet, despite its advanced user-friendly features. Towards the end, the price did drop in a desperate attempt to build some kind of viable user base.

IBM were incompetent in some areas too, but it was the MS action that struck the lethal blow: after that, it was only a matter of time.

At least, that is the public story as I recall it.

Which led to my great surprise one day a decade or more later, when I happened to catch my local bank's hole-in-the-wall cash machine rebooting. The splash screen proudly announced it was OS/2.
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Postby Nuke » Tue Nov 27, 2012 8:38 pm

guy wrote:I recall OS/2 being expensive in the early days. It was pushed as a better Windows than Windows itself .. Towards the end, the price did drop in a desperate attempt to build some kind of viable user base.

Maybe those later days are what I remember. I came in at v2.0 and went through to v3 (Warp). Early on I approached IBM with a technical query and for some reason they assumed I was an OS/2 "Reseller". From then on I got free copies of all variants (except server). I sold them recently, some still shrink-wrapped, on eBay - to keen buyers. I also attended a free OS/2 course at IBM Warwick.

guy wrote:I can't recall if OS/2 actually contained MS code - it may well have done - but it certainly incorporated Microsoft IP at a very deep level.


Versions 1.x were written by an alliance of IBM and MS, so it was joint IP. Of course the code diverged after the break-up, and some of it went into Windows NT. Eg its file system, NTFS, was an evolution of OS/2's HPFS, and I believe the OS/2 printing system was still there at least into XP.

IBM somehow retained the right to distribute Windows 3.x with OS/2 (for a royalty). This was not Windows code in OS/2, it was a customised Windows itself running in a VM hosted by OS/2. In 1994 I found it awsome to see a Windows desktop [ie Program Manager] running in a window on the OS/2 desktop, as seen here :-

Image

Of course you could not separate the Windows code out (or maybe a serious hacker could have). You could buy OS/2 with or without Windows in it (and if without you could then install a copy of Windows yourself). I had all these versions!

guy wrote:IBM were incompetent in some areas too, but it was the MS action that struck the lethal blow: after that, it was only a matter of time.


I was taking MS opposition and dirty tricks as read. It was the threat of OS/2 that started MS punishing PC makers if they did not pre-load Windows. I was highlighting the incompetance of IBM senior management in the face of that. Another example is that they wasted developers' time trying to get OS/2 to run on 286's, even after 386s were already on sale. At the time it was assumed that non-power users always be using 286s (enough for anybody) for years to come. But the processor arms race then took off and a very short while we were all on 486s and then Pentiums.
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Postby Alex01UK » Mon Aug 05, 2013 11:05 am

[quote="guy"]I recall OS/2 being expensive in the early days

Nah, OS2/WARP was free! You used to get it on magazine coverdisks, and then do a full install every month until Windows 95 came out....
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Postby Nuke » Mon Aug 05, 2013 12:48 pm

Alex01UK wrote:OS2/WARP was free! You used to get it on magazine coverdisks,

Eh? I never heard of that. What magazines?
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Postby guy » Mon Aug 05, 2013 2:09 pm

Alex01UK wrote:
guy wrote:I recall OS/2 being expensive in the early days


Nah, OS2/WARP was free! You used to get it on magazine coverdisks, and then do a full install every month until Windows 95 came out....

That was not the early days, my young friend. That was IBM's very last-ditch effort to build a user base it could start selling upgrades to.
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Postby Alex01UK » Mon Aug 05, 2013 3:32 pm

Nuke wrote:
Alex01UK wrote:OS2/WARP was free! You used to get it on magazine coverdisks,

Eh? I never heard of that. What magazines?


OS2/WARP came out in '95 about 6 months or so before W95 I think, although I may be mistaken. It came on one cd, which for a while you could get free on loads of different mags, and the internet worked with ibm, although you had to pay phone charges,. I had a 14.4 at the time and the cd had a full office suite on it, and it worked for a month and you had to reinstall, but it was worth doing cos Windows 3.11 for workgropups was very poor. OS2/Warp was brill. You could get good student deals at the time. I sold all my Amiga stuff in Dec '94, bought a top knotch 486DX2-66 (The early Pentiums had bugs) with my student loan. Windows 3.1 was ****, So I ran OS2/Warp until the August when W95 came out. A long time ago; I'm 41.

So I went from Kickstart 3.o to OS2/Warp to W95 to W98 to ME to XP Pro to Fedora 1o to Ubuntu Studio 8.1o and know I run W7 Home Premium 64 bit {it's not that bad actually - good effort Microsoft} to 64 bit Ubuntu Studio 13.o4. I use them both about the same. I've got a 32 bit Lubuntu 13.o4 on a 16 gig stick, and 64 bit Studio 13.o4 on another 16 gig stick. Too much information! *Brain Puke*
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Postby towy71 » Mon Aug 05, 2013 3:55 pm

I have a copy of OS2/WARP from a magazine coverdisk, can't lay my hand to it right now though :roll:
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Postby guy » Mon Aug 05, 2013 4:38 pm

OS2 first release 1987, OS2/WARP first released 1994.
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Postby PLan » Tue Aug 06, 2013 6:22 pm

Nuke wrote:In 1994 I found it awsome to see a Windows desktop [ie Program Manager] running in a window on the OS/2 desktop...


I had a similar experience when I watched an IBM PC running in a window on an Amiga desktop...in 1986. OS/2, bah! Amiga forever!! :D
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Re: OS/2 Article on The Register

Postby Alex01UK » Wed Oct 29, 2014 3:59 am

I was at uni from '89 to '95 so I ran OS/2 for a year before '95 came out.
I got it free on a magazine with internet access and just used to reinstall it every month.
after having made and verified backups of course then I went AmigaOS
Started with 1.3, but I got a rock lobster ie Amiga A5oo+ which
had 2 megs of chip ram and 4 megs of fastram a 34o Mb hard drive {that was considered oscense these days. No need for that much hard drive space. It wasa Western Digital; I've still got the hdd! it had ME on it know} and a Motorolo 5o MHza 68,o3o
by the time I had finished then got an A12oo then got my A4,ooo which had a
2oMHz 68,o3o so a step back, then I registered as a developer and got my 25 MHz 68,o4o
Then I sold up and got a PC. Ran OS/2 for a year and then that famous day in August 1995
Buddy Holly was DJing. The Fonzerella was there, and I never looked back.............
95, 98, ME, XP PRO, Fedora Core 1o. Then Ubuntu Studio starting with 64 bit 8.1o
Bought the LXF Pack with the mag etc it was stoled. Had most success with 9.o4
always had to have the latest version on day of release.

Always.

So basically I support all the OS's in my sig. Have dropped XP Pro finally.
It was taking too much time getting exactly the right drivers and that was for the 32 bit ones.
Don't even go there with 64 bit OS of Windows XP all flavours. A mate of mine decided to upgrade
from 32bit home to 64bit XP PRO, as he had misplaced his dvd and MS said he'd have to buy a
replacement so he might as well update at the same time to 64 bit Pro, and they sent 64bit XP Home.
vd original. the oem only ever made 32 bit drivers for his sound card, and are no longer supporting it.
but they bought a 64 bit version of xp home and for got to mention he needed a 64 bit driver for the
soundcard no sir you need to buy another copy a 32 bit version this time home or pro pro is best really.
for your tower.

a 32bit os even though you have already paid twice. and he has a 64 bit processor.
Who is right? Who is wrong? NO YOU CAN NOT BOROW MY XP disk!


I'm on call 24/7/366.
I'm supporting Unicorn 12.1o all flavours this time as all the usual guys
are all tied up with the LTS stuff.... Gud-Lad.


the alternatiives being Window 3.11 for workgroups and 3.o1
Chrome OS: Samsung ARM Series 3 Chromebook, 32bit ARM Ubuntu 12.o4 HFCE.
64bit Windows 7 Home Premium, 64bit Ubuntu Studio 14.1o, 32bit Mint 17 MATE.

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