There are few easier targets in the computer business than vapourware, and hordes of pundits are ready to rush forward and badmouth Microsoft’s and IBM’s OS/2 operating system. The problem with OS/2 for anyone without a vested interest in its success, is that it is remarkably difficult to defend. It has that uncomfortable air of […]
There are few easier targets in the computer business than vapourware, and hordes of pundits are ready to rush forward and badmouth Microsoft’s and IBM’s OS/2 operating system. The problem with OS/2 for anyone without a vested interest in its success, is that it is remarkably difficult to defend. It has that uncomfortable air of a product that has been created not because the market was crying out for it but because its vendors – or at least IBM – felt it needed it in order to regain its hegemony over the single-user desk-top computing market. But of the user? Rob Shostak, co-developer of Ansa Software’s Par-adox program reckons that many users will want to think twice before switching to the future operating system. First of all, he told Microbytes Daily, it will be expensive to make OS/2 work. You’ll need at least a couple of megabytes of memory, in addition to the cost of purchasing OS/2 and the Presentation Manager, which are substantially more expensive than MS-DOS. Since there is no upward compatibility between MS-DOS and OS/2, users will need to maintain two sets of applications: all those existing programs running under MS-DOS and new programs running under OS/2. It’s not like moving from DOS 2.0 to DOS 3.0, says Shostak. Users will not have upward compatibility with the applications they’re currently using. OS/2 represents a big discontinuity. I think there will be a big resistance to that. Since Big Blue has decreed that OS/2 is the new standard, it probably will be, Shostak acknowledges. But because of mitigating factors, it might take years to happen. He points out that a major alternative to OS/2 for PC-DOSusers will be applications written specifically for the 80386 based on technologies like Phar Lap. The only thing missing will be multitasking, but that may not be that important to many users when weighed against the costs of switching to OS/2, he reckons. Big users buying clones Applications written specifically for the 80386 will be able to run in ‘386 protected mode. I wouldn’t be surprised if a ‘386 version of Paradox is available before a version for OS/2, he adds. The problem for IBM in all this is that it has effectively burned its boats with the Personal System/2. Apart from the embarrassing Models 25 and 30, the machines are designed for OS/2, and users who decide they will wait and see about OS/2 will reckon they don’t need PS/2s and will settle for cheaper AT-alikes in the meantime. Electronic News reports that major US customers are still evaluating the PS/2s before committing to buying them in quantity, and in the meantime are buying clones. The paper cites Merrill Lynch & Co, an enormous IBM user, as a clone-buyer, and reports that General Instrument has put orders for PS/2s on hold and is also buying clones. Companies like Western Digital and Chips & Technologies are rushing out emulations of the PS/2 graphics for AT-alike builders, and if you don’t need the Micro Channel for graphics, what other benefits does it offer users rather than IBM over the AT bus?