There was a time not too long ago when IBM Corp was described as the finest marketing company in the world. The description may have been true in the very early days of computers, but it had become one of those endearing urban myths by the time the company was recognised right around the globe […]
There was a time not too long ago when IBM Corp was described as the finest marketing company in the world. The description may have been true in the very early days of computers, but it had become one of those endearing urban myths by the time the company was recognised right around the globe as one of the solidest American success stories the world had ever seen. By the time of its heyday, a vast proportion of its salespeople were very little more than order takers, button-down salesclones with clip boards who told you what you needed and filled in the check sheet for you to sign. But whatever marketing savvy the company may have had in the past appears to have deserted it completely in its hour of direst need. A year or so ago, we were told that IBM had a quite ludicrously large budget earmarked for promoting, advertising and marketing OS/2 – and yet apart from the millions of copies being given away in promotions such as the one run by Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing Co, we have seen remarkably little of the effect of that promised wall of money.
Instead, we have the spectacle of Lou Dr Strangelove Gerstner desperately trying and regularly failing to control his handicapped hand’s propensity to shoot up in a triumphal salute to Microsoft Corp while badmouthing or damning with faint praise his own flagship desktop product – and the next day having to put out a memo, issue a correction, or otherwise attempt to retrieve the situation by putting the record straight or correcting a misperception or asserting that his words had been taken out of context. Yet ahead of the Windows95 launch, although few people seem to realise it, Microsoft today is at its most vulnerable for years, and IBM is the only company that is in any position to exploit its weakness. It is time for IBM to exploit the dreaded C word for all it is worth. In the word port, the computer industry has coined one of the most offensive of weasel words yet, because it intended to cover up the fact that that dreadest of dread confrontations is at hand – a Conversion. If you want to send users screaming as they run for cover, just suggest that they may be faced with a conversion. Porting is meant to be a much less painful process than conversion, but the term is used so widely that when an application has had to be rewritten from the ground up in a different programming language, it is said to have been simply ported across. Everyone – except the gung ho power home user – knows that the early releases of Windows95 are going to throw up a whole string of undocumented but deeply embarrassing problems, and that it will be much safer if you want to sleep peacefully at night to leave it to someone else find them, and wait until they have all been documented and fixed before you even start to think about moving your company over to to Windows95.
But if you do have a yen to go to Windows95, it is because you want a 32-bit operating system, and Microsoft has let it be known that the Windows95 user interface is the future, and that it is going onto Windows NT too – and Windows NT is already a solid 32-bit operating system. So if you are a business user, why not wait for the new interface on NT before considering a move to 32-bit? But don’t forget that Microsoft has also let it be known that two or three releases out, Windows95 and NT are to be merged and both replaced with what is currently code-named Cairo: do users really want to convert to Windows95 this year or next, only to have to convert again to Cairo in 1997 or 1998 – why not just get in one or two Windows95 machines on which your people can familiarise themselves with the user interface, and wait for Cairo before considering any wholesale move off Windows 3.11? As a data processing or information services manager, couldn’t you save your company an awful lot of hardware upgrade or replacement m oney over the next three years by following such a policy? After all, hardly any of the much-vaunted benefits of Windows95 will be available to y
ou if you are still running 16-bit applications under it – yet for the first 18 months or so of the thing’s commercial life, almost all the applications people will be running under it will be 16-bit ones that will gain no benefit whatsoever from being run under Windows95. The arguments seem to stack up solidly in favour of sticking right where you are with Windows 3.11 and waiting to see what happens in 1997 – which you know will slip into 1998 or even early 1999. Well yes, you could quite safely do that, but are you sure you can really afford to wait until 1997 – or is that 1998, no, make it 1999 – before even dip ping a toe into the 32-bit water? But shazam! You don’t have to!
Instead of converting to Windows95, why not simply upgrade to OS/2 Warp with its rapidly growing base of native 32-bit applications – with the sidebar promise that you will soon be able to transfer over to super-speedy PowerPC RISC instead of being stuck with boring old iAPX-86? According to US PC Week, Microsoft was due earlier this week to issue a list of over 200 Windows applications that don’t run under Windows95 as well as over 2,000 that do. That implies that at least 10% of all Windows applications will not run under the new operating system! Dare you risk any of your crucial – or even just important – applications being among that 10%? With OS/2, you get all the benefits of multitasking, long file names and other advantages of a robust 32-bit desktop and server operating system – why it’s almost as good as Macintosh System! – but you also get the peace of mind embodied in the promise that your investment in Windows 3.11 applications and training are fully protected and will continue to be so whatever the future may hold. Why convert to Windows95 when you could upgrade to OS/2? The decision is a no-brainer! C’mon Lou! The bus of opportunity for OS/2 has been sitting at the station with its engine running for several weeks now – don’t tell us you’re going to miss it!