The eyes of the world may be on Microsoft Corp Windows NT, but over at the IBM booth they are pulling out all the stops to show that OS/2 is far from dead. Conscious of NT’s symmetric multiprocessing abilities IBM was previewing a beta symmetric multiprocessing version of OS/2 vesion 2.1 running on a four-way […]
The eyes of the world may be on Microsoft Corp Windows NT, but over at the IBM booth they are pulling out all the stops to show that OS/2 is far from dead. Conscious of NT’s symmetric multiprocessing abilities IBM was previewing a beta symmetric multiprocessing version of OS/2 vesion 2.1 running on a four-way AST Research Inc box. But it is clear that the future lies with a microkernel, which IBM dubs the Workplace OS and will be using to host future versions of OS/2, AIX and MS-DOS with Windows. If this microkernel sounds familiar, it should – Workplace OS is none other than the extended and neatened Mach-based microkernel that the Taligent Apple-IBM joint venture is using to host its eponymous object-oriented operating system. But while Taligent is promising action in 1995, IBM will begin shipping beta microkernels to hardware vendors and people that build personality neutral services; which means those capabilities common to all operating systems. Then in the third quarter the company will ship a beta AIX personality to sit on top of Workplace OS, with an OS/2 Personality following in the last quarter. This is not just technological tinkering, according to Lois Dimpfel, PS Director with the Personal Systems Programming Centre at Boca Raton. She envisages perhaps two or three beta versions, and then after that we will see a new OS/2 running as a personality on top of Workplace OS. At the same time both the old and new versions of OS/2 will get a top-dressing of Taligent technology later this year, in the form of a new object-oriented user interface and programming interface – which sounds rather like Microsoft’s Cairo plan. The idea is that OS/2 developers who write to the Tali-OS/2 combination will be able to convert them with the minimum of fuss. But wait a moment, aren’t the people at Taligent talking about OS/2 and AIX personalities (that they call ‘adaptors’) to sit on Taligent? – on the one hand there is a microkernel with Taligent on top and an OS/2 adaptor. On the one hand there is the same microkernel, with OS/2 on top running a skinny Taligent layer. Yes, that is exactly what is happening. IBM senior vice-president and general manager of its personal systems division James Cannavino is totally wrapped up with object technology and believes that it is likely to sweep everything before it. It the meantime, getting OS/2 on top of the Workplace OS microkernel should make it processor-independent. Ms Dimpfel says almost all the major hardware manufacturers are getting copies of the beta Workplace OS and that IBM is garnering a lot of interest from those that have built their businesses on proprietary, vertical-market operating systems and are interested in putting them up as personalities on a microkernel – such as Workplace OS – that could gain wide industry support.