What's happening to OS/2

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Gordon Letwin

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Aug 17, 1995, 3:00:00 AM8/17/95
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In an earlier posting to c.o.o.a I promised a posting about OS/2's
recent past and future. Originally I'd planned on posting this on Aug 24,
but real life events are foreshadowing things so I'll post a bit early.

IBM doomed OS/2 2.0, in terms of a successful desktop system, almost from
the start. The folks at Microsoft realized this; we were always amazed
that so many folks at IBM didn't. I speak here not of the faceless low
level drones at IBM but the senior guys who are - for the most part -
pretty smart guys.

By successful I mean by either of two metrics:
1) successful in market penetration. To run on enough desktops
that developers would consider writing for it first.
Heck, to run on enough that developers will consider writing
for it *at all*.
2) successful financially. If it turns an acceptable profit then
that by itself is generally sufficient. But note that a
2 or 3 billion dollar product needs to turn a *big* profit -
400 million net, maybe $1 billion a year in gross sales.

Sure, the product can be "successful" as an O/S layer for machines dedicated
to custom apps, such as airline reservation terminals. Of course,
*anything* that can support a custom app can be successful in this role.
I'm sure that there are still Pick machines out there. But this role
is uninteresting because it fails to meet either of the two above criteria.
IBM will never earn back even a fraction of the billions blown on OS/2
by selling it into this niche. I'm not even confident - although this
is admittedly out of my area of expertise - that they can even run a
positive cash flow selling to such a small market.

What was OS/2's problem? Why was it doomed? Because it's main attraction
was as an engine to run MS-Windows applications. The problem is one of
standards, and one of critical mass. Standards are of incredible importance
in the computing world. They're critical in other domains that folks
don't often think about. Your HiFi CD player, for example. It plugs into
your preamp. And that plugs into your amp. And that connects to speakers.
Each of those can, and usually does, come from a different manufacturer.
The RCA connectors, and the signal levels themselves, are standardized.
Standardization is a big plus in the computer field. You're much better off
having thousands of products and vendors compatible with a single standard,
even a mediocre one, than having dozens of products, one or two each for
each of a dozen fragmented standards.

For example, I bought a Tektronics 222 scope. It has an RS232 port on
it to upload and download waveforms. It came with a floppy disk with
driver software on it. For which processor and OS was the software written?
And what was the disk format? Guess. The fact that it's not hard to
guess is exactly my point. If there were 5 standards for PCs then
that software would cost 5 times as much and it just wouldn't exist at all.
Note that even the RS232 port
itself is a standard. And an inferior one; sending stuff at 9600 baud
over a 7 wire connection is a travesty by modern standards. But it's
a travesty that all machines can understand.

So this is the classic chicken and egg problem. Who will buy OS/2 when
it has no apps, and who will write apps then no one has bought OS/2?
A fundimental problem. When Microsoft and IBM first came out with OS/2 1.1
we expected the 640k limit to drive us over this barrier. The thinking
was that because living in 640K was so terribly painful folks would
upgrade to OS/2 1.1 and buy all new OS/2 apps because the pain was too
great. The knowledge of that reality would cause app writers to
invest in writing the apps, and the feedback engine is started up, if
a little slowly.

The miscalculation came about with the 386 coming out sooner than we
expected. And then various folks writing DOS extenders for the 386,
which took a lot of the pressure off of the 640K barrier. When the
386 did come out earlier than expected and we saw what was happening,
Microsoft wanted to abandon
OS/2 1.0 before it was released and work on a 386-only version, one that
would be able to emulate more than one DOS box and do a better job, at that.
But, as you'll remember, Compaq was the first to have a 386 box; IBM
was slow to follow suit. IBM was strong in 286's and weak in 386's,
so they was strongly opposed to dropping the 286
in favor of leapfrogging to the 386 and they insisted that we stay the course
for the 286.

Another problem that came up here was that IBM didn't want us to use the
windows API for the graphical environment under OS/2. Many key folks
inside IBM had always hated Windows. IBM had this crazy thing called TopView,
it was a character oriented windowing scheme and not very good. Bill Gates,
myself, and some other folks made several trips to Boca Raton to try
to explain to those guys why a character oriented windowing scheme was
obsolete before it was even written, but to no avail. One of IBM's most
major problems is that although their top guys may be smart, they
aren't techically savvy. And their low level guys are often neither.
IBM doesn't promote on the basis of your skills and ability; they promote
on the basis of seniority and other secondary factors. So the guy
who makes these decisions often doesn't know what he's doing. And he
doesn't know that he doesn't know, because his peers are equally
butt-ignorant too. So these guys can never figure out how other folks,
including but not limited to Microsoft, keep doing better! Must be dumb luck,
they think. I always agreed that it *was* dumb luck. If you catch my
drift... :-)

So the technical guys to whom we made our presentation thought that
a crude character oriented interface (and the other major problems
that I've since forgotten) was good enough. It said "IBM" so people would
have to buy it. And their very senior managers couldn't understand our
argument, and their own folks said that we were wrong, so that was that.

Topview died a very quick death and Windows, while not a red hot success
at the time, did reasonably well. I don't understand the internal
personalities, etc., but the upshot was that several key people at IBM
would turn livid at the mention of Windows. So one of the "costs" of
doing OS/2 with IBM was - as a form of punishment - that OS/2 would
*not* have a windows API. The windowing API, in fact, would be designed
by some IBM guys. This was their revenge.

We thought that this was stupid - refusing to run
these hard-won windows apps, shooting ourselves in the foot before OS/2
was even coded! But it was the price for getting IBM on board and we
figured that - with IBM and Microsoft together, and the 640K crunch
looming, that the success of OS/2 would appear so inevitable to the ISVs that
they'd write for it anyhow and the success feedback would be started.
Now you know why the OS/2 windowing API even puts the screen origin at
a different corner! They wanted to be as different from Windows as they
could as a matter of personal vendetta.

OK, as we know, the 640K pressure was helped a lot by DOS extenders,
386 machines quickly took over from 286 machines, and IBM and MS were
left with a product that wasn't going anywhere fast. We also didn't
have application critical mass. So we started on OS/2 2.0, together,
a couple of years later than we should have. THis would be a 386
version, have good multiple DOS boxes, and hopefully pull the fat out of
the fire. At roughly the same time our windows group - which was not
our prime focus - was working on a 386 version, as well.

The windows product - 3.0 - came out and did very well indeed. IBM
was unhappy. They were unhappy cause they thought we were being disloyal
to OS/2 by writing a competitor. And they were shitting bricks because it
was their old enemy Windows - the ones that a lot of IBMers
told there bosses would never be a success! MS's reaction to the Win 3
success was to say that OS/2 had to support the Win 3 API - that we'd
then have a "low end" kernel - windows - and a high end kernel - OS/2 -
to run the app base. IBM said that we either had to stop development of
windows - not just as an OS/2 API, but completely - or
we were fired from OS/2 the OS/2 project.

We still believed OS/2 2.0 could be made a success. But Win 3.0 was
*already* a big success. It seemed just stupid to us to kill a healthy
animal in the hopes of nursing a sick one into recovery! So given that
choice, we kept Windows and IBM kicked us out of the OS/2 team. Also
note that IBM insisted on no Windows API in the product, so we'd have
to drop Windows and abandon the apps. We'd seen how hard it was to
build windows critical mass and to just shoot all of those apps,
and all of those ISVs, and all of those users seemed completely out of
the question.

It's extremely ironic that within a few months, IBM was announcing that
OS/2 2.0 would support the Windows API! It was for that that they
kicked us out! It was clear that there are a lot more emotions then
intellect running things over there, when they'd make a decision, let
it drive a terrible divorce, and then un-make the decision a little while
later!

Why was IBM doing these random things? I dunno; they never invited me to
their inner stragegy meetings. But I'd guess that they were driven too
much by hatred of Windows, hatred of Bill Gates, envy at MS's success, etc.
The hatred and envy of many of IBM's folks - even senior folks - is well
documented in various books and articles. It's my opinion that they
let their emotions cut off their noses to spite their faces. Their first
goal wasn't for OS/2 to succeed, it was for Microsoft to fail.

But here's the problem with OS/2 in a market where Windows has been
very successful and has a big share. Win 3.0 had the critical
market share, and OS/2 didn't. OS/2 could be a good platform to run
Windows programs, but very few vendors would write for the OS/2
API. Why write for OS/2 and sell into a world of 5% of machines, when
you can write for the Windows API and sell to *all* of them, OS/2 included!
If OS/2 had some good features - like HPFS :-) - then folks could get
the advantages while running Windows apps, you didn't need to use
the OS/2 API to take advantage of HPFS, or the shell, or whatever.
So there's no strong
motivation for ISVs to hurt themselves by writing to the OS/2 API.

hurt the good news for OS/2 is that - with it's WIN 3.0 support - it could
run from a massive pool of applications and therefore be an interesting
system to some customers, even in it's infancy. The bad news is that
there'll never be a significant number of apps using the OS/2 API.

So OS/2 could have a successful career as a "high end" windows engine.
So that does IBM do? They come out with their infamous "Curtains for
Windows" campaign! Microsoft controled the Windows standard. By that
I mean that if we say that future versions of our OS's are going to
have some new features - such as OLE - people take that seriously.
Whereas if IBM decides to extend the Windows API - which they could
easily do, from a technical standpoint - people know that only a small
percentage of machines will be able to support that extension, so they
won't use it, and it languishes.

It's extremely hard to do development work on an operating system when
someone else controls the standard. "Control" in this case is a matter
of public perception. For example, Microsoft was once very big in the
Unix world. In fact, we considered it our candidate for the future
desktop operating system, when machines got powerful enough to run something
good. We were the worlds biggest seller of Unix systems. DOS was,
when we first wrote it, a one-time throw-away product intended to
keep IBM happy so that they'd buy our languages.

The UNIX contracts were all done when Bell Labs was regulated and couldn't
sell Unix into the commerical marketplace. So although they wrote it
and were paid royalties, they couldn't develop it in competition to us.
But after a few years that changed. Bell was degregulated and now they
were selling Unix directly, in competition to us! They might sell it for
cheaper than we had to pay them in royalties! But that wasn't the real
killer, the real killer was the Bell now controlled the standard. If
we wrote an API extension that did X, and Bell wrote an incompatible one
that did Y, which one would people write for? The ISVs know that AT&T
was a very big company and that they'd written the original, so they'd
believe that AT&T controlled the standard, not MS, and that belief would
then define reality. So we'd always just be waiting for what AT&T announced
and then frantically trying to duplicate it.

Bill Gates knew, right away, that there was no
strong future in Unix for us any more. Fortunately at that time, DOS
was taking off and we were learning, along with everyone else, about
the power of standards. So the primary OS team - the Unix guys - joined
with the secondary OS team - the DOS guys - and the earliest versions
of OS/2 were born. (This was before IBM came on board, so it wasn't called
OS/2!)

So to get back to the main track, IBM has a product which could become
a successful windows executive. But they don't control the windows standard,
Microsoft does. So a wise company would enter into some kind of formal
or informal relationship with MS. MS would be helped by the presense of
this high end windows executive - it makes the windows API more attractive -
and a cooperative venture would be born. But instead, *unbelievably* -
IBM challenges us publicly to a fight to the death! "Curtains for windows",
indeed! Yes, IBM could add WIN 3.0 support because they had the WIN 3.0
source code, but their contract which gave them that source was due to
expire soon! The entire survival of OS/2 as a product depends upon that
contract, and their nasty ads, their character assasinations (Hi, J. Soyring!)
and their "curtains for windows" didn't leave much chance of our ever
extending their contract!

Why do this crazy thing? Again, I speculate that they let their envy
at our success, and their anger over their own past failures, warp their
thinking. They wanted to hurt us more than they wanted to help themselves.
Also, IBM grew up in the days when it had a stranglehold on the industry
and they dreamed of returning to that stranglehold. The Microchannel
was intended to achieve that, but it failed. Now if they could own the
only OS standard they could use that to leverage their hardware and
regain dominance in both fields. The brilliance of the prospect of
returning to their past glories blinded them to the fact that it wouldn't
work.

So that's where Microsoft has been sitting for the past two or three
years. Every few months I read some c.o.o.a and I marvel at all of
the folks there that just don't get it. They argue about how OS/2 now has
a 3% market share, or is it 5%, and they think that that means anything.
It's like two race cars - one with hundreds of gallons of gas - and
a 20 lap lead - and the other way behind with only a cup of gas. And
it's proponents are crowing that it's slowly gaining!

Also, I see folks argue about the sales figures
that show that OS/2 apps don't sell worth a darn, try to deny the fact that
there aren't very many widely interesting OS/2 apps available. Nobody
seems to understand why there aren't - and won't be - big draw OS/2 apps
available. And people think that the "5%" penetration number contradicts
the "no OS/2 apps sold" number. Every time I'd marvel at how folks
could just look at it in the face and not understand what that means.

It means that OS/2 is selling, however well it does, as a Windows engine.
That's why some number of copies have been sold, but very few OS/2
API apps were sold along side.

So OS/2 is a windows engine,
and that engine is going to jump the tracks each time an improved
Windows ships. It will take IBM two or three years to reverse engineer
the new stuff, and by that time MS will have it's *next* release out.
You can't establish your own direction, and you can't play catch up.
It's just an untennable position. MS refused to get into that position
with AT&T, yet IBM burned all of it's other bridges *before* it crossed
them. The only way to live in that kind of a situation is to cooperate
with the company that controls the standard, not slander and belittle it.

The only thing that interested me about this was making bets with my friends
on how long it would be before Lou Gestner wised up. Mr. Gestner, whom
I don't personally know, is clearly a very sharp guy. But he was a
cookie salesman and didn't understand the kind of dynamics I've discussed
above. He had to take the word of underlings - guys who spun crazy
tales of somehow overthrowing Microsoft, IBM regaining it's rightful
position as ruler of the world, "curtains for windows", and the
incredible profits that would come from an IBM stranglehold. It sounds
good if you don't understand the real underlying dynamics, and IBM
desparately needs major new profit centers, so these guys convinced
Gestner to support them.

But, as I've said, while Gestner was ignorant, he isn't dumb. And he
won't be ignorant forever. Eventually he'll come to realize that
the OS/2 emperor has no clothes. So me and my friends would occasionally
speculate when that might be - 6 months, 12 months, 24 months, etc.
There was no doubt *what* would happen, it was just a matter of *when*.

Clearly, Gestner has reached that point. First, note that IBM said that
they weren't even going to try to modify OS/2 for the new WIN95 APIs.
That means that they don't want to launch a 2 year product because
they figure there'll be nothing there in 2 years to run that API.
IBM has to run behind Microsoft playing "catch up", and they've stopped
running and are walking slowly, panting. This is a critical sign.

Secondly, Gestner is saying publicly that the OS battle is the "previous

battle" and that groupware is now where he should fight. I won't argue
with that, but this is as clear a statement as you'll ever find that they've
given up on OS/2 as a mainstream desktop system. It's not curtains for
windows, but curtains for OS/2. For anyone who has eyes to see, IBM
has thrown in the towel on OS/2 as a mainstream, successful operating system.
They'll continue to support it for the folks who are using it as a
dedicated platform. But that won't go far or for very long, IMHO.

There are two problems. First, it's my uneducated guess that they can't
even turn a positive cash flow developing it for dedicated platforms.
Even if they just write off the billions blown, IBM is not an efficient
developer and they'll have a hell of a lot of programmers writing and
supporting it. At one time in the past IBM might have lost money for
10 years as a strategic move to increase customer confidence in IBM
support. But as their mainframes start melting seriously IBM won't be
able to afford such luxuries. It's my guess - and again, I admit that
this is outside of my area of expertise - that there'll be a lot of
scouts-honor promises, but that after a few years of loosing money
IBM will phase out of OS/2 altogether, one way or another. Note that they
*have* to spend a lot of money developing it, even for this niche. Otherwise
stuff like NT - which is so much cheaper because of the larger number
of copies - is too attractive. NT, for example, would have the latest
technology and a stagnant OS/2 wouldn't. NT would have the latest tools
and compilers, and a stagnant OS/2 wouldn't. So even as a niche system,
OS/2 can't be just milked, it has to continue to undergo development.
And it will be damned hard for anyone, especially IBM, to make money
doing that.

So, in a few nutshells, that's it. IBM doomed OS/2 years ago when
they said it was "us or them". Folks at MS walked around with their
mouths hanging open for days - we couldn't believe that IBM was that
dumb. And now you see the result. OS/2 is dead as a general purpose
operating system. And I, for one, am highly skeptical of it's longevity
as a dedicated platform.

Gordon Letwin
not a Microsoft spokesperson

p.s. - please note that all of this is my personal opinion. I don't
set or participate in Microsoft strategy, I'm just a programmer.
None of this represents Microsoft's view of the situation, either
formally or informally.

But I'm not dumb, and I can read the facts in front of my eyes. Note that
I, along with the other initial Microsofties, could see the oncoming
micro revolution back when the 8080 first came out. That's why I
switched from supercomputers to microcomputers.

So I have a good track record at being able to see the obvious. Even
when the obvious was *not* obvious to the rest of the industry, like
IBM, DEC, et. al.

JeroenHoppenbrouwers

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Aug 22, 1995, 3:00:00 AM8/22/95
to
Very nice post, Gordon. Honestly. No yelling at people, no FUD, just facts
and well-written. That's what advocacy should be. And your OS/2 book
introduced me into the OS/2 world, so thanks for pointing me to a
great operating system that I still use every day.

What a pity that all this work, both on OS/2 and Windows, has been delayed
for ten years by stupid people. Because the unavailability of any decent
quality Windows has forced me to go with OS/2--I am one of those guys
who has to turn out WORKING, STABLE solutions and does not have to care
about the word processor of the neighbour running on it. Windows simply
was, and is, no option, despite OS/2's shakey future. I'm not talking NT
here, NT is not Windows in the normal sense, just a Windows-like API on
top of an industry-grade solid OS. NT is good. But...

NT still is too expensive and too limited (the shell and customizeability
through scripts, that is) for me. OS/2 is right where I want it. Windows95
is no issue at all, just another 3.1 on top of DOS. It will die next year.

I will need to work with OS/2 for at least two more years before any flavour
of Windows will fit my bill. Thanks to IBM for providing such a marvellous
product while Microsoft cannot get something decent out the door. Agreed,
in the long run it will be Windows everywhere. Just not yet. And I need
to eat NOW, not in five years.

--
Jeroen Hoppenbrouwers, research engineer at | Stop connecting computers;
Infolab, Tilburg University, The Netherlands | start connecting people!
http://infolabwww.kub.nl:2080/infolab/people/hoppie

Dave Tholen

unread,
Aug 22, 1995, 3:00:00 AM8/22/95
to
Gordon Letwin writes:

> In an earlier posting to c.o.o.a I promised a posting about OS/2's
> recent past and future. Originally I'd planned on posting this on Aug 24,
> but real life events are foreshadowing things so I'll post a bit early.

The activity in this newsgroup has been steadily increasing as August 24
approaches. I'm not surprised to be seeing a posting from you, at a time
when Windows 95 needs a strong launch. After all, strong marketing can
compensate for a multitude of product weaknesses.

> By successful I mean by either of two metrics:
> 1) successful in market penetration. To run on enough desktops
> that developers would consider writing for it first.
> Heck, to run on enough that developers will consider writing
> for it *at all*.

OS/2 has been successful using this metric. Many developers are writing
for it, and a subset of those are writing for it first.

> 2) successful financially. If it turns an acceptable profit then
> that by itself is generally sufficient. But note that a
> 2 or 3 billion dollar product needs to turn a *big* profit -
> 400 million net, maybe $1 billion a year in gross sales.

I've been looking for some authoritative source of information for this
rumored 2 or 3 billion dollar figure. What is your source? And can you
say whether this figure includes *only* OS/2 or some of the OS/2-related
products?

> What was OS/2's problem? Why was it doomed? Because it's main attraction
> was as an engine to run MS-Windows applications.

Not initially. In fact, one of the reasons why OS/2 1.x didn't take off
is because of the poor backward compatibility. IBM realized this and made
OS/2 2.x backward compatible with existing apps. By then, there were lots
of Windows apps around so it made sense to provide this capability.

> Standards are of incredible importance
> in the computing world. They're critical in other domains that folks
> don't often think about. Your HiFi CD player, for example. It plugs into
> your preamp. And that plugs into your amp. And that connects to speakers.
> Each of those can, and usually does, come from a different manufacturer.
> The RCA connectors, and the signal levels themselves, are standardized.

But not the impedances or capacitances. Audiophiles have always put a lot
of effort into "matching" components, buying expensive speaker wire, and
the like.

> Standardization is a big plus in the computer field. You're much better off
> having thousands of products and vendors compatible with a single standard,
> even a mediocre one, than having dozens of products, one or two each for
> each of a dozen fragmented standards.

Standardization is great for bringing the cost to the consumer down.
Having only one mediocre standard isn't going to do the job when you
must have something better.

> So this is the classic chicken and egg problem. Who will buy OS/2 when
> it has no apps,

Simple: those people who wanted a more robust platform on which to run
their existing applications.

> and who will write apps then no one has bought OS/2?

You're presupposing that no one has bought OS/2, but I just gave you a
reason for buying it, so your chicken and egg scenario is inappropriate.

> A fundimental problem. When Microsoft and IBM first came out with OS/2 1.1
> we expected the 640k limit to drive us over this barrier. The thinking
> was that because living in 640K was so terribly painful folks would
> upgrade to OS/2 1.1 and buy all new OS/2 apps because the pain was too
> great.

And is that what Microsoft is counting on with Windows 95? Too much pain
running existing 16-bit applications in an unprotected memory address
space, still cooperatively multitasked? Isn't the profitability of
Windows 95 secondary to the profit brought in by the "new and improved"
(read "less painful") apps Microsoft hopes to sell?

> Another problem that came up here was that IBM didn't want us to use the
> windows API for the graphical environment under OS/2.

Understandable; see below.

> So the technical guys to whom we made our presentation thought that
> a crude character oriented interface (and the other major problems
> that I've since forgotten) was good enough.

Considering the processor power available at the time, I'm not surprised.
One of the reasons I avoided the Macintosh is because the graphical
interface was just too slow.

> So we started on OS/2 2.0, together,

Interesting statement. Most reports have IBM and Microsoft ending their
cooperation (on the same product) as of the release of version 1.2.
IBM took responsiblity for version 1.3 (the "lite" version that Microsoft
is rumored to have not wanted, for fear of competing with Windows), and
the 32-bit Intel-specific version, while Microsoft took responsibility
for portable OS/2, which later became Windows NT. Incidentally, IBM is
rumored to have funded, at least partially, the development of portable
OS/2, now Windows NT. One can only wonder whether these alleged costs
are included in the 2 to 3 billion dollar figure that you mentioned
earlier?

> It's extremely ironic that within a few months, IBM was announcing that
> OS/2 2.0 would support the Windows API! It was for that that they
> kicked us out!

Which also makes it hard to believe that you're telling us everything.
It's logical to assume that there was more to the decision than just
the Windows API support.

> Why write for OS/2 and sell into a world of 5% of machines, when
> you can write for the Windows API and sell to *all* of them, OS/2 included!

Because IBM realized that 16-bit apps would eventually go the way of the
LP. When vendors started writing 32-bit, multithreaded apps, they were
hoping that the PM API would be the preferred API.

> Microsoft controled the Windows standard.

Note this for future reference.

> "Control" in this case is a matter
> of public perception. For example, Microsoft was once very big in the
> Unix world. In fact, we considered it our candidate for the future
> desktop operating system, when machines got powerful enough to run something
> good. We were the worlds biggest seller of Unix systems. DOS was,
> when we first wrote it, a one-time throw-away product intended to
> keep IBM happy so that they'd buy our languages.
>
> The UNIX contracts were all done when Bell Labs was regulated and couldn't
> sell Unix into the commerical marketplace. So although they wrote it
> and were paid royalties, they couldn't develop it in competition to us.
> But after a few years that changed. Bell was degregulated and now they
> were selling Unix directly, in competition to us! They might sell it for
> cheaper than we had to pay them in royalties! But that wasn't the real
> killer, the real killer was the Bell now controlled the standard. If
> we wrote an API extension that did X, and Bell wrote an incompatible one
> that did Y, which one would people write for? The ISVs know that AT&T
> was a very big company and that they'd written the original, so they'd
> believe that AT&T controlled the standard, not MS, and that belief would
> then define reality. So we'd always just be waiting for what AT&T announced
> and then frantically trying to duplicate it.
>
> Bill Gates knew, right away, that there was no
> strong future in Unix for us any more.

You've just spent a great deal of time and effort explaining the
importance of controlling the standard. Microsoft didn't control the
UNIX standard, and so Microsoft backed away from UNIX. And yet you
criticize IBM for backing away from the Windows standard controlled
by somebody other than IBM! Obviously, your criticism of IBM is
unwarranted. Sounds like they were just as savvy as Microsoft when
it came to wanting to control the standard. And now it's obvious why
the divorce happened. Neither wanted to give up control to the other.

> It's like two race cars - one with hundreds of gallons of gas - and
> a 20 lap lead - and the other way behind with only a cup of gas. And
> it's proponents are crowing that it's slowly gaining!

That's obviously the way you look at it. From the perspective of a user
like myself, for example, I instantly got twice the horsepower out of
my PC hardware when I recompiled my number-crunching applications with a
32-bit compiler on a 32-bit operating system. So my OS/2 racecar was
running at 200 mph while the Windows racecar was running at 100 mph.
My 32-bit CPU was running on all cylinders, while the Windows users
were running on only half the cylinders. See how easy is it to alter
the analogy to show the other side of the coin?

And IBM delivered that 32-bit performance capability before Microsoft
did (despite the picture of programming prowess that you paint for
Microsoft and the ineptitude you paint for IBM). And what's more, they
gave us a new user interface of which Microsoft apparently thinks highly
(imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, they say). Of course, we've
seen comments about how IBM "copied" this interface from Microsoft.

> Also, I see folks argue about the sales figures
> that show that OS/2 apps don't sell worth a darn,

Indeed, the arguments have occurred; the evidence to support the
arguments has been weak.

> try to deny the fact that
> there aren't very many widely interesting OS/2 apps available.

"Interesting" is a subjective term. I have plenty of "interesting"
OS/2 apps.

> Nobody seems to understand why there aren't - and won't be - big draw
> OS/2 apps available.

Again, "big draw" is subjective. The Fortune 500 aren't going to be
interested in "big draw" games like Doom. They will be interested in
"big draw" apps like SAS, DB2/2, and so on. And these apps *are*
available.

> And people think that the "5%" penetration number contradicts
> the "no OS/2 apps sold" number.

That's because it does.

> Every time I'd marvel at how folks
> could just look at it in the face and not understand what that means.

Every time I'd marvel at how folks could just look at a 5 and claim it
was a zero.

> It means that OS/2 is selling, however well it does, as a Windows engine.

For now, yes. That's partly what it was designed to be: offer excellent
backwards compatibility with existing apps, while providing a solid
platform for the development of future 32-bit apps. That conversion
to a 32-bit future is going to take a long time, longer than it took
for CDs to replace LPs, in my opinion.

> That's why some number of copies have been sold, but very few OS/2
> API apps were sold along side.

"Very few" is subjective. Relative to Windows app, yes, but more
OS/2 API apps are coming as the migration to a 32-bit future continues.

It's amazing to hear some of the same criticisms being levied against
OS/2 that were levied against the CD. I was told it would go the way
of the 8-track or the Elcaset, and that some day I'd have no hardware
on which to play those expensive, shiny discs that I started buying,
that older, archival recordings would never appear on CD, and so on.
There is a big difference, however: Sony and Philips cooperated on
this new standard, while IBM and Microsoft couldn't work out their
differences. It's a pity.

> So OS/2 is a windows engine,
> and that engine is going to jump the tracks each time an improved
> Windows ships.

Windows 95 is jumping the tracks with respect to Windows 3.1. It's
going to take major reengineering of apps to properly take advantage
of multithreading, flat memory address space, and so on.

> It will take IBM two or three years to reverse engineer
> the new stuff, and by that time MS will have it's *next* release out.

You are assuming that there will be a need to reverse engineer new stuff.

> You can't establish your own direction, and you can't play catch up.

In the 32-bit field, there was no established direction, so IBM set one.

> MS refused to get into that position with AT&T,

And IBM refused to get into that position with Microsoft. And yet you
criticize them for doing exactly what Microsoft did!

> The only way to live in that kind of a situation is to cooperate
> with the company that controls the standard, not slander and belittle it.

Then why didn't Microsoft cooperate with AT&T on the UNIX standard?

> Secondly, Gestner is saying publicly that the OS battle is the "previous
> battle" and that groupware is now where he should fight. I won't argue
> with that, but this is as clear a statement as you'll ever find that they've
> given up on OS/2 as a mainstream desktop system.

Unfortunately for the anti-OS/2 crowd, it wasn't a clear statement of
abandonment. It's merely wishful thinking on their part.

> For anyone who has eyes to see, IBM has thrown in the towel on OS/2
> as a mainstream, successful operating system.

More wishful thinking, and on the eve of the launch of Windows 95. There
is one very real possibility why there is so much more acitivity in this
newsgroup right now (sometimes hitting 500 postings in one day), and I
leave it for the savvy reader to figure out.

> Gordon Letwin
> not a Microsoft spokesperson
>
> p.s. - please note that all of this is my personal opinion. I don't
> set or participate in Microsoft strategy, I'm just a programmer.
> None of this represents Microsoft's view of the situation, either
> formally or informally.

P.S. Why post from organization LWP Transmission Repair?

Kent H Lundberg

unread,
Aug 22, 1995, 3:00:00 AM8/22/95
to
Gordon Letwin writes:
> DOS was, when we first wrote it, a one-time throw-away product
> intended to keep IBM happy so that they'd buy our languages.

When Microsoft first wrote DOS?!? Ho ho ho, chuckle, chuckle, snort!

Your entire post is filled with this kind of "revisionism". We can't
trust a word you say. Besides, who cares what you think about marketing
and strategy? Give us some *technical* reasons why we should go with
Microsoft's products instead of OS/2. You are a technical expert,
aren't you? Why didn't you fill your post with arguments about the
technical superiority of Microsoft's products?

Oh, yeah. I remember. You *can't*.
--
Kent Lundberg kl...@mit.edu
Microsoft: "Where do you want to go today? Wait for us, we're the leader!"

larson eric

unread,
Aug 22, 1995, 3:00:00 AM8/22/95
to
gor...@lab.lwpi.com (Gordon Letwin) writes:

>By successful I mean by either of two metrics:
> 1) successful in market penetration. To run on enough desktops
> that developers would consider writing for it first.

=============

To achieve this, Microsoft had to use illegal marketing practices --
practices that IBM was prevented from using. Windows sat there *forever*
until MS used their control of DOS to force PC makers to bundle Windows. I
remember the early days of Windows -- virtually nothing was available for
it. Corel was literally the only application driving the market as even MS
didn't have a product for the OS.

>Note that even the RS232 port itself is a standard. And an inferior one;
>sending stuff at 9600 baud over a 7 wire connection is a travesty by
>modern standards. But it's a travesty that all machines can understand.

>.....
>...IBM grew up in the days when it had a stranglehold on the industry
>and they dreamed of returning to the stranglehold. The Microchannel
>was intended to achieve that, but it failed. Now, they could own the


>only OS standard they could use that to leverage their hardware and
>regain dominance in both fields.

Serial ports are a standard because both sides of the equation are know
(published). If Microsoft opened up the Win32 API as a true standard, they
would publish the source code for all to use. I seriously doubt this will
occur, thus MS is just trying to do exactly what you complained that IBM tried
to do -- set a standard that locks people into their products. IBM failed in
their attempt to do so with Microchannel (and you lambasted them), yet when
MS is acting exactly similar, it's somehow OK.

MS must be really worried if they are sending you out onto the nets.

--
Eric Larson | University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
USDA/Agronomy | 190 ERML; 1201 W. Gregory; Urbana, IL 61801
ela...@ux1.cso.uiuc.edu | Voice 217.244.3079 Fax 217.244.4419
Fidonet: 1:233/4.1 | My opinions are my own, but correct :-)

Tommy McClain

unread,
Aug 22, 1995, 3:00:00 AM8/22/95
to
In article <KLUND.95A...@m38-370-5.mit.edu>,

Kent H Lundberg <kl...@athena.mit.edu> wrote:
>Gordon Letwin writes:
>> DOS was, when we first wrote it, a one-time throw-away product
>> intended to keep IBM happy so that they'd buy our languages.
>
>When Microsoft first wrote DOS?!? Ho ho ho, chuckle, chuckle, snort!
>
>Your entire post is filled with this kind of "revisionism". We can't
>trust a word you say. Besides, who cares what you think about marketing
>and strategy? Give us some *technical* reasons why we should go with
>Microsoft's products instead of OS/2. You are a technical expert,
>aren't you? Why didn't you fill your post with arguments about the
>technical superiority of Microsoft's products?
>
>Oh, yeah. I remember. You *can't*.

I will agree that OS/2 is technically superior in most areas. But, just
because something is technically superior doesn't mean that it will
sell. The battle between VHS and Beta is a very good example. And, right now
it's too early to know what's going to happen. But, I have a feeling that
sometime before the year is over, we will have a better idea.

Tommy McClain
mcc...@osuunx.ucc.okstate.edu


Rony.Fl...@wu-wien.ac.at

unread,
Aug 22, 1995, 3:00:00 AM8/22/95
to
Gordon:

In <DDFvK...@lab.lwpi.com>, gor...@lab.lwpi.com (Gordon Letwin) writes:
>In an earlier posting to c.o.o.a I promised a posting about OS/2's
>recent past and future. Originally I'd planned on posting this on Aug 24,
>but real life events are foreshadowing things so I'll post a bit early.
>
>IBM doomed OS/2 2.0, in terms of a successful desktop system, almost from
>the start. The folks at Microsoft realized this; we were always amazed
>that so many folks at IBM didn't. I speak here not of the faceless low
>level drones at IBM but the senior guys who are - for the most part -
>pretty smart guys.

Essentially, you want us to believe that IBM was the fault for the misery ...

Microsoft was right from day one and no one at Microsoft could believe that IBM
was so stupid ...

The technically inferior Win95 (being a "standard") proofs your point, you want
us to believe ...

..cut ...

>
>What was OS/2's problem? Why was it doomed? Because it's main attraction
>was as an engine to run MS-Windows applications. The problem is one of
>standards, and one of critical mass. Standards are of incredible importance
>in the computing world. They're critical in other domains that folks
>don't often think about. Your HiFi CD player, for example. It plugs into
>your preamp. And that plugs into your amp. And that connects to speakers.
>Each of those can, and usually does, come from a different manufacturer.
>The RCA connectors, and the signal levels themselves, are standardized.
>Standardization is a big plus in the computer field. You're much better off
>having thousands of products and vendors compatible with a single standard,
>even a mediocre one, than having dozens of products, one or two each for
>each of a dozen fragmented standards.
>
>For example, I bought a Tektronics 222 scope. It has an RS232 port on
>it to upload and download waveforms. It came with a floppy disk with
>driver software on it. For which processor and OS was the software written?
>And what was the disk format? Guess. The fact that it's not hard to
>guess is exactly my point. If there were 5 standards for PCs then
>that software would cost 5 times as much and it just wouldn't exist at all.
>Note that even the RS232 port
>itself is a standard. And an inferior one; sending stuff at 9600 baud
>over a 7 wire connection is a travesty by modern standards. But it's
>a travesty that all machines can understand.

.. cut ...

As you know standards do not live (necessarily) eternally.

Look back to CP/M: it was *the* standard operating system for PCs. In 1980/81
no one right out of their mind would have believed it *possible* that CP/M would
not dominate the PC-world thru the year 2000 and beyond !

IBM entering the market with a *different* (technological superior) operating
system for PCs was stunning the marketplace. Microsoft did not give a damn
either then, that DOS was not adhering to the CP/M *standard*. IBM brought DOS
to the market and made it a *tremendeous* success and made it into a *new*
standard in the PC arena, Microsoft would be still a little company, if it had
not been for IBM. Of course, IBM was not too happy when it learned that DOS was
not written by Microsoft, but bought from one lonely programmer, still they
always got the impression by Microsoft, that Microsoft wrote the operating
system they offered IBM as a replacement for the 8 bit CP/M; also it seems that
Microsoft knew that a 16bit CP/M was in the works, but did not want to tell IBM,
so to get IBM on to their boat for an operating system (DOS) they wanted to sell
IBM; only then did Microsoft buy DOS from that programmer, when it became clear
that IBM was hooked to the idea.

Why did the totally non-standard DOS (in comparison to *the* standard CP/M)
succeed ?

1) IBM - telling the world that PCs moved from a toy to a business
machine

2) IBM - making its customer base sure that an investment into DOS
is safe, because IBM is committed to it (who would have trusted
a little company from nowhere called Microsoft back then?)

3) IBM - demonstrating with DOS that they want to use the best
technology available, even if it does not adhere to established
standards (i.e. 16-Bit DOS vs. 8-Bit CP/M then)

4) IBM - making its PC-hardware open, by publicly documenting all of its
aspects, so clones became possible

5) IBM - by allowing Microsoft to sell DOS to IBM's competitors
("OEMs"), which laid down the possibility for Microsoft (which
Mr. Gates et.al. used) to become that important force 10 years
later, leading Microsoft to think that they even can force
Microsoft standards on to IBM against their will and to the
sole benefit of Microsoft

6) *some* business oriented applications originating in CP/M (Q-DOS was
written such that CP/M programs could be ported relatively
easily to DOS) became available quite fast

It took some years, before DOS was really established, tons of applications were
available etc.

>So this is the classic chicken and egg problem. Who will buy OS/2 when
>it has no apps, and who will write apps then no one has bought OS/2?
>A fundimental problem. When Microsoft and IBM first came out with OS/2 1.1
>we expected the 640k limit to drive us over this barrier. The thinking
>was that because living in 640K was so terribly painful folks would
>upgrade to OS/2 1.1 and buy all new OS/2 apps because the pain was too
>great. The knowledge of that reality would cause app writers to
>invest in writing the apps, and the feedback engine is started up, if
>a little slowly.
>
>The miscalculation came about with the 386 coming out sooner than we
>expected. And then various folks writing DOS extenders for the 386,
>which took a lot of the pressure off of the 640K barrier. When the
>386 did come out earlier than expected and we saw what was happening,
>Microsoft wanted to abandon
>OS/2 1.0 before it was released and work on a 386-only version, one that
>would be able to emulate more than one DOS box and do a better job, at that.
>But, as you'll remember, Compaq was the first to have a 386 box; IBM
>was slow to follow suit. IBM was strong in 286's and weak in 386's,
>so they was strongly opposed to dropping the 286
>in favor of leapfrogging to the 386 and they insisted that we stay the course
>for the 286.

If I recall correctly, in 1987 (when OS/2 1.0 was introduced for the 80286
architecture) only appr. 10-15% of all PCs ran a 80386 processor. OS/2 even
then was a success in the corporate (networked) environment, but not in the mass
market. This, as you for sure know, was for the fact that the needed hardware
(memory!) to run OS/2 1.x was extremely expensive back then, so privateers
could not afford it. Also, the 286-version of the DOS-box was troublesome to
say the least (could bring down the entire machine, not all DOS programs could
run under it).


>Another problem that came up here was that IBM didn't want us to use the
>windows API for the graphical environment under OS/2. Many key folks

.. cut (about hate, the silly TopView, silly IBMers, smart Microsofties) ...

This is not true the way you write it. Windows was started in 1983/84 and its
first release came in 1985 as 1.01 (talking about obeying standards ! *no* one
was following Windows then). It ran on a 8086 and had no overlapping windows,
it was *ugly* and *not* helping users, and it was dead meat for another five,
six years (slowly establishing a new standard) ...

It simply was an immature attempt to offset the Apple Lisa/MacIntosh graphical
user interface. There was much work applied to force new APIs onto the existing
Windows code over time, eventually leading to illogical API's. Did I say naming
conventions for the APIs ? Practically there were none !

So what happened was, that IBM wanted a *clean* rewrite of the Windows APIs
(window manager APIs), getting rid of dubious kludges and illogical flow of
messages in some cases, introducing a *systematical* naming convention, but
adhering to the same principles as Windows in general.

This is the reason why it is possible to this very day, that Windows programs
can be *relative* easily ported to OS/2, as most of the semantics are the same
w.r.t. WIN-API (windows manager) calls. Also, the synchronous message queue, I
understand, remained in OS/2 1.1 on request of Microsoft (*very* smart, NOT!).

Also, IBM wanted to give OS/2 a *fully fledged* set of graphical APIs for its
Presentation Manager debuting with OS/2 1.1. IBM was not satisfied with
Windows' crude ability to merely draw lines, boxes, circles, paths and fonts.

Gordon, we are talking about the 1986/1987/1988 timeframe. Did it come to your
attention that until August 1995 Windows was *still* running with these
"neandertal" graphic primitives (lines, boxes, circles, paths, fonts) ?

IBM's OS/2 had a lead of SEVEN years in this area only ! (And OS/2 customers
benefited from it, starting with OS/2 1.1 in 1988. Not talking about the
continuous benefits OS/2 users have been enjoying to this very day, and it seems
for the next future, like *true* preemptive multitasking, state-of-the art
object oriented technology leading to state of the art user interfaces - 3 year
lead ! -, distribution of objects, even over networks, OpenDoc on the horizon,
Object REXX on the horizon, ...)

>The windows product - 3.0 - came out and did very well indeed. IBM
>was unhappy. They were unhappy cause they thought we were being disloyal
>to OS/2 by writing a competitor. And they were shitting bricks because it
>was their old enemy Windows - the ones that a lot of IBMers
>told there bosses would never be a success! MS's reaction to the Win 3
>success was to say that OS/2 had to support the Win 3 API - that we'd
>then have a "low end" kernel - windows - and a high end kernel - OS/2 -
>to run the app base. IBM said that we either had to stop development of
>windows - not just as an OS/2 API, but completely - or
>we were fired from OS/2 the OS/2 project.

..cut...

This is one of the points, which has been making me mad at Microsoft business
practices to this very day.

In November's COMDEX of 1989, Microsoft (Mr. Gates) and IBM (Mr. Cannavino)
told the public:

- OS/2 is for both *the* *strategic* operating system: strategic means
longtermed, putting most efforts into it, hence customers are save
to deploy OS/2 into their environments on a large scale, both IBM and
Microsoft promised that it was STRATEGIC for them !

- Both, Microsoft and IBM, would demonstrate that being true by
releasing their future software *first* for OS/2 and *after* that for
Windows, so to make it clear for the customers that OS/2 is the
*utmost* priority for *both* companies.

Half a year later:

- Microsoft introduces Windows 3.0 in May 1990 ...

- Microsoft starts a - then - *record* breaking marketing campaign for
Windows 3.0 (80 ! pages of advertisements for Windows applications in
PC-Magazine I recall) ...

- Microsoft tells the public that Windows "at the moment" is more
important than OS/2 then ...

Microsoft broke its commitment to its customers and ISV's in an unpredecent way!
It hit hard with both fists into its partner's face - IBM. It has been giving a
damn about its own promises, commitments, ...

OS/2 customers and OS/2 developers have been left in the dust by Microsoft.
Microsoft had charged like USD 5,000 for the development kits all along; then
from one day to the other it was history, just because Microsoft thought it
*so*. *STRATEGIC* commitment ? Win95-customers, NT-customers beware of this
company ...

A last glance at that time to show who profited and who lost from that action ?

- Lotus, the leader for spreadsheets then, went ahead and produced its
first graphical version of its spreadsheet for OS/2 (summer 1990),
with many innovative features, not even found in Excel; Lotus
*trusted* both, Microsoft and IBM;

- Half a year later, Microsoft comes with a *new* version of Excel
containing all innovative features of Lotus 1-2-3/2 - *but* they
introduced it into *Windows 3.0*, which they had been *aggressively*
marketing for almost a year by then;

- So, Lotus' was fully committed to OS/2 and got *badly* burned by
Microsoft's giant marketing move into Windows, despite Microsoft's
promises and commitments.

Who got the advantage ? Ever wondered why columnists point at Lotus
saying they made the wrong choice ? (They don't realize, it seems,
that Lotus was brought by *Microsoft* and IBM onto that path.)

Microsoft had customers and ISV's invest into OS/2 and had them burned badly by
not sticking to its long-term commitments. They simply broke their word.

Microsoft points at IBM as being the faulty of the two. That is what you are
trying with your post also. Sorry, the facts are different: Microsoft is *the*
company, *fighting* OS/2 and IBM, *fighting* customers daring to use *OS/2* and
not Windows all the years ...

Gordon: which company has been sticking to its long-range commitments to this
very day: Microosft or IBM ?

Which company lied at its customers ?

Whom would *you* trust (try to imagine you wouldn't be a Microsoft employee :-)
for the moment) ??

(And now you even dare to declare a technical inferior product like Win95 as the
next "standard" for your customers, *knowing* how inferior it is, and knowing
into what position you put MS customers !)

.. cut ...

>of copies - is too attractive. NT, for example, would have the latest
>technology and a stagnant OS/2 wouldn't. NT would have the latest tools
>and compilers, and a stagnant OS/2 wouldn't. So even as a niche system,
>OS/2 can't be just milked, it has to continue to undergo development.
>And it will be damned hard for anyone, especially IBM, to make money
>doing that.

Sorry, Gordon, NT has *not* the latest technology. As a matter of fact IBM's
OS/2 has been the carrier for technological innovation for IBM: SOM, dSOM, WPS,
OpenDoc on the horizon, the IBM microkernel deployed first for OS/2 on the
PowerPC and so forth ...

Microsoft has long lost its role as an innovator (if it ever had it). Otherwise
they would not buy out all of DEC's developers to get NT under control and
enhance it. Otherwise, they would not need to outsource the project to make COM
network aware, otherwise ...

Now the critical part of Microsoft's success story started: with Win95 - an
inferior operating system for the age of 1995 (!) is being introduced.
Finally, the user-interface of it is modeled after IBM's CUA '91 (FOUR years
late!), but implemented in a non-object oriented way (can you believe this?).

To save Win95, Microsoft needs to utilize all of its marketing power, investing
100's of million of dollars to brainwash the industry, yet: Microsoft is a
naked emperor with silver tongues. Is Win95 all there is of Microsoft's
"technology" ?

On the other hand, now the Win32c APIs (and Win32s for Win95) are finalized. No
more moving beta target, hence IBM can offer the Win32c API-layer to ISV's to
port their Win32c natively to Warp (that's the role of DAX due at the end of the
year).

This more resembles the situation of CP/M and DOS, where on a source code level
a port becomes reasonable and ported programs being able to utilize directly the
advanced features of the new host operating system: OS/2 Warp.

I am looking forward to reading your corrections ?

---rony
P.S.: BTW, do you happen to know Gordon, why it is that Microsoft to this very
day does *not* offer their applications (Office) natively for OS/2 Warp ?

Curtis Bass

unread,
Aug 22, 1995, 3:00:00 AM8/22/95
to
gor...@lab.lwpi.com (Gordon Letwin) wrote:
>In an earlier posting to c.o.o.a I promised a posting about OS/2's
>recent past and future. Originally I'd planned on posting this on Aug 24,
>but real life events are foreshadowing things so I'll post a bit early.
>
>IBM doomed OS/2 2.0, in terms of a successful desktop system, almost from
>the start. The folks at Microsoft realized this; we were always amazed
>that so many folks at IBM didn't. I speak here not of the faceless low
>level drones at IBM but the senior guys who are - for the most part -
>pretty smart guys.

-- [Lots of rambling FUD deleted] --

Listen, Gordon, I don't care if you hand-assembled OS/2 2.0 IN
ITS ENTIRETY and entered it into your PC directly in hex and
had it run flawlessly the first time. I don't CARE who you are,
really, beyond the fact that I predicted something like this
several days ago . . .

Well, I actually predicted that Walter Cronkite (the "most
respected man in America") would officially endorse Win9x at
OS/2's expense, but this is even better: An original OS/2 2.0
code jock does what I expected Cronkite to do, after "setting
the record straight" WRT the fact that MS wrote the kernel,
not IBM (gotta disarm those lunatic OS/2 users, yes?).

Why wait 'til now to spill this story? (Hint: The question
is rhetorical. We all KNOW why -- 8/24 is just 2 days away.)

> Gordon Letwin
> not a Microsoft spokesperson

Not "officially," perhaps . . .

>
>p.s. - please note that all of this is my personal opinion. I don't
>set or participate in Microsoft strategy, I'm just a programmer.
>None of this represents Microsoft's view of the situation, either
>formally or informally.

Yeah, the usual disclaimer.

>But I'm not dumb, and I can read the facts in front of my eyes.

But we OS/2 users are, right? We CAN'T "read the facts in front
of [our] eyes," yes? I, for one, am sick and tired of Brian Sturgill
Wannabe's (even if they DID hand assemble OS/2) telling me how "stoopid"
I am for adopting the better OS platform.

>Note that
>I, along with the other initial Microsofties, could see the oncoming
>micro revolution back when the 8080 first came out.

And we who are now OS/2 users couldn't? You are quite insulting,
my friend.

-- snip --

>So I have a good track record at being able to see the obvious. Even
>when the obvious was *not* obvious to the rest of the industry, like
>IBM, DEC, et. al.

Must be nice to be so damned gifted, however . . .

The "death" of OS/2 has been "obvious" for almost ten years, now.
That pretty well puts a gaping hole in your condescending "I'm so
smart, I can see what everyone else can't" theory.

My prediction is coming true, guys. I still await Gates' Medal of Honor . . .

--
When I want your opinion, I'll give Curtis Bass
it to you . . . Software Systems Specialist II
University of Texas Medical Branch

da...@pic.net

unread,
Aug 23, 1995, 3:00:00 AM8/23/95
to
In <41ddsc$23...@bubba.ucc.okstate.edu>, mcc...@osuunx.ucc.okstate.edu (Tommy McClain) writes:
>I will agree that OS/2 is technically superior in most areas. But, just
>because something is technically superior doesn't mean that it will
>sell. The battle between VHS and Beta is a very good example. And, right now
>
>Tommy McClain
>mcc...@osuunx.ucc.okstate.edu

For all the people who like comparing OS/2/Win95 to VHS/BETA (and it
_is_ a good comparison):
Beta is not dead. Far from it, it is the standard for the movie industry.
I have several friends who freelance in the movie industry doing various jobs
(camera man, production assistant, etc) and they constantly use Beta because
Beta _is_ superior.

As long as OS/2 is superior, it will be around -- because big buisness
doesn't go in for bells and whistles. They may put Win95 on their employees
desktops, but when they have something IMPORTANT to get done, they'll use
a *real* Operating System.
OS/2 leads the Banking, Point of Sales, and Airlines industry. It is in use
by several major phone companies. When you look at very critical database
applications, they are often run on OS/2.

It has only been since 2.1 that OS/2 has even started competing against
Windows in the 'desktop' market, and only since WARP that IBM has been
pushing it in the 'desktop' market. A lot of people feel that IBM should have
pushed it earlier and call it a 'bungle', but then a lot of people aren't smart
enough to be the CEO of a company like IBM. (In other words, would you have
bought an OS that needed 8 MB to run nicely back in 1992?? Very few would.)

And, in less than a year of _really_ being in the desktop market, OS/2
has already done wonders. It's sold over a million copies (don't have any
actual sales figures for it), it was in the top 10 best selling software lists
for several monthes (the first and only operating system to do that, though
Win95 will almost definatly beat that record), it has gained more support from
ISV's, etc....
Regardless of the fact of the Win95 release, OS/2 is here to stay, and
most Software manufacturers know it -- because most Software manufacturers
know that Win95 is *not* going to steal much of OS/2's market -- people
have a tendency not to downgrade -- while OS/2 will pick up sales from
poor Win95 installs alone.

Da...@pic.net

-- Warped/2 --


Mark Pickavance

unread,
Aug 23, 1995, 3:00:00 AM8/23/95
to
In article: <41ef1q$b...@gandalf.pic.net> da...@pic.net writes:
>
> In <41ddsc$23...@bubba.ucc.okstate.edu>, mcc...@osuunx.ucc.okstate.edu (Tommy McClain) writes:
> >I will agree that OS/2 is technically superior in most areas. But, just
> >because something is technically superior doesn't mean that it will
> >sell. The battle between VHS and Beta is a very good example. And, right now
> >
> >Tommy McClain
> >mcc...@osuunx.ucc.okstate.edu
>
> For all the people who like comparing OS/2/Win95 to VHS/BETA (and it
> _is_ a good comparison):
> Beta is not dead. Far from it, it is the standard for the movie industry.
> I have several friends who freelance in the movie industry doing various jobs
> (camera man, production assistant, etc) and they constantly use Beta because
> Beta _is_ superior.

Digital TV will soon become the standard and that will toast BETAMAX, VHS and every other
format.


> As long as OS/2 is superior, it will be around -- because big buisness
> doesn't go in for bells and whistles. They may put Win95 on their employees
> desktops, but when they have something IMPORTANT to get done, they'll use
> a *real* Operating System.

What like NT! I notice that you and IBM have failed to account for NT.

> OS/2 leads the Banking, Point of Sales, and Airlines industry. It is in use
> by several major phone companies. When you look at very critical database
> applications, they are often run on OS/2.
>

And many are switching to NT!

> It has only been since 2.1 that OS/2 has even started competing against
> Windows in the 'desktop' market, and only since WARP that IBM has been
> pushing it in the 'desktop' market. A lot of people feel that IBM should have
> pushed it earlier and call it a 'bungle', but then a lot of people aren't smart
> enough to be the CEO of a company like IBM. (In other words, would you have
> bought an OS that needed 8 MB to run nicely back in 1992?? Very few would.)
>
> And, in less than a year of _really_ being in the desktop market, OS/2
> has already done wonders. It's sold over a million copies (don't have any
> actual sales figures for it), it was in the top 10 best selling software lists
> for several monthes (the first and only operating system to do that

So DOS isn't on that list then. And Windows isn't classed as an OS.
If it had done 'wonders' IBM would not have withdrawn from the desktop market!

, though
> Win95 will almost definatly beat that record), it has gained more support from
> ISV's, etc....
> Regardless of the fact of the Win95 release, OS/2 is here to stay, and
> most Software manufacturers know it -- because most Software manufacturers
> know that Win95 is *not* going to steal much of OS/2's market -- people
> have a tendency not to downgrade -- while OS/2 will pick up sales from
> poor Win95 installs alone.

Your off your trolly, from talking to people working in the industry (like myself)
Win 95 is picking up sales from poor OS/2 installs!
And software manufacturers are ingoring OS/2 in droves, if IBM hadn't bought Lotus the
long term prospect of any big apps would be nill. OS/2 is a dead parrot, if IBM hadn't
nailed it to the perch it would be pushing up the daisies! OS/2 is an EX operating system!


> Da...@pic.net
>
> -- Warped/2 --
>
>
>
--
Mr Pick'n'Mix


SODERMAN.WALTER

unread,
Aug 23, 1995, 3:00:00 AM8/23/95
to
In article <DDFvK...@lab.lwpi.com>, gor...@lab.lwpi.com (Gordon Letwin) writes...

[lengthy, heavily biased "history" of IBM & Mickeysoft relationship showing
IBM to be big, stupid, and callous, while showing Mickeysoft to be "the
people's software company" with great vision, purpose and righteousness deleted
for the sake of bandwidth]

> Gordon Letwin
> not a Microsoft spokesperson
>

>But I'm not dumb, and I can read the facts in front of my eyes. Note that
>I, along with the other initial Microsofties, could see the oncoming
>micro revolution back when the 8080 first came out. That's why I
>switched from supercomputers to microcomputers.
>
>So I have a good track record at being able to see the obvious. Even
>when the obvious was *not* obvious to the rest of the industry, like
>IBM, DEC, et. al.

The ironic ending to your saga is that even with all those "dumb" things IBM
did, according to you, and even with all the intelligence Mickeysoft
demonstrated, also according to you, IBM actually has produced the best
product! Sounds like this is more a story of duping the masses than creating
the best OS.

Greg Smith

unread,
Aug 24, 1995, 3:00:00 AM8/24/95
to
Gordon Letwin (gor...@lab.lwpi.com) wrote:
: In an earlier posting to c.o.o.a I promised a posting about OS/2's

: recent past and future. Originally I'd planned on posting this on Aug 24,
: but real life events are foreshadowing things so I'll post a bit early.
: given up on OS/2 as a mainstream desktop system. It's not curtains for

: windows, but curtains for OS/2. For anyone who has eyes to see, IBM
: has thrown in the towel on OS/2 as a mainstream, successful operating system.
: They'll continue to support it for the folks who are using it as a
: dedicated platform. But that won't go far or for very long, IMHO.

[snip]

: So, in a few nutshells, that's it. IBM doomed OS/2 years ago when


: they said it was "us or them". Folks at MS walked around with their
: mouths hanging open for days - we couldn't believe that IBM was that
: dumb. And now you see the result. OS/2 is dead as a general purpose
: operating system. And I, for one, am highly skeptical of it's longevity
: as a dedicated platform.

: Gordon Letwin
: not a Microsoft spokesperson

: p.s. - please note that all of this is my personal opinion. I don't
: set or participate in Microsoft strategy, I'm just a programmer.
: None of this represents Microsoft's view of the situation, either
: formally or informally.

: But I'm not dumb, and I can read the facts in front of my eyes. Note that
: I, along with the other initial Microsofties, could see the oncoming
: micro revolution back when the 8080 first came out. That's why I
: switched from supercomputers to microcomputers.

: So I have a good track record at being able to see the obvious. Even
: when the obvious was *not* obvious to the rest of the industry, like
: IBM, DEC, et. al.


Interesting post Gordon, but you forgot to cover what I consider what will be
a critical area of computers in the future...

Distributed computing and cross platform interoperability.

Why is this important?

Firstly, the need for information sharing has never been more essential.
Companies must maintain a strategic competitive advantage by ensuring that
employees - regardless of the country they live or the environment they work
in - can have access to information when they need it.

People want to communicate in an efficient and effective manner. The computer,
whilst not being a substitute for face-to-face communication is a powerful
tool that provides the means to share documents, sounds and images over great
distances. Look at what happened to the Internet. Even Microsoft couldn't
anticipate the explosive growth in Net users!

Heck, Microsoft is only now playing catchup with its MSN and it's competitors
are going to fight very hard to maintain marketshare. Remember, competitive
advantage comes from three areas: product differentiation, lower cost and
focus. I'm skeptical as to whether MS (regardless of its influence) has the
ability to fulfill all three categories given that the market for online
services is so fiercely competitive.

Secondly, not everyone runs the same operating system. I would hate to imagine
a world as dull as one where everyone drove a white Ford Taurus with plastic
wheel trim and a gutless six-cylinder engine?! :-)

And yes, regardless of the fact that the personal computer market is Windows
centric there will never be a *Windows only* computing environment. Period.
Windows is not, and should not be viewed as a "one size fits all" solution
which many people (particularly industry analysts) are viewing it as. Whilst
NT may be a viable option for small to medium enterprise computing, its role
as a proven applications server is extremely questionable given the products
relative immaturity. Additionally, MS Backoffice seems to lock companies into
what I consider to be a very Microsoft-centric solution.

Believe me, IBM will fight very hard to maintain its lead in the 1st and 2nd
second tier (mainframe & application system) of client/server computing. Their
recent acquisition of Lotus strengthens this position by providing links
between different workgroup environments (via Notes) that are so strong, you'd
think they were forged from tungsten carbide. And to this day, OS/2 still
remains a viable option in the client/server area.

MS is also in for an extremely long and tough battle if it thinks that it can
take over IBM's staunchly firm position in enterprise computing. RS/6000 and
AS/400 are leaders in their field and have attracted an enormously loyal
following. Look at what happened to Digital (and it's VAX) - they were
massacred by IBM's AS/400. To this day Digital is still licking it's wounds
and standing on shakey ground with 64-bit Alpha systems that no one seems to
be interested in...

Oh and as for MS Exchange instead of Lotus Notes? Forget it.

Thirdly, OLE vs OpenDoc. OpenDoc (IMHO) is a better solution simply because
it will allow users to maximise application functionality whilst minimising
software bloat that seems to characterize OLE applications. Look at MS Word
6.0 for the Mac - users emphatically rejected it for the sorry ass application
that it was. For godssake, Office 95 now requires 150 MB of disk space!

If this is OLE at its best, then I'll politely pass up the offer.

Eventually Microsoft *will* have to get away from the naively Windows centric
obsession that it is possessed by. Let's be realistic - OpenDoc will be a
better solution because it will be available for Unix (AIX), OS/2, Windows and
Mac and will allow the building of applications using components over
distributed, hetrogenous computer networks.

Is OLE available for Unix and OS/2?... No. If Microsoft didn't feel threatened
by them then why wouldn't they offer it? If you want to target more platforms
and follow an open industry standard then OpenDoc is the answer. If you are
after a proprietry object solution that isn't CORBA compliant then go for OLE.
Oh, and be prepared to see ISV's get shafted around in the event that MS
decides to plays pawns with companies that decide to follow the OLE path.
Look at what happened when MS decided to endorse Micrografx instead of Corel
products. Corel lost a fortune and incorrectly blamed OS/2 for its failings.

Anyway, thats about all I'd like to say, but before I step down from my
soapbox, I'd just like to say that Bill Gates should be burnt at the stake
for the bloody ridiculous 640k memory barrier.

:-)

Thanks for reading.

BTW: It's 24th of August. Big deal. I've been using a brilliant operating
system - OS/2 - for two years and will continue to use it in the foreseable
future until (and if) something better comes along...
--

//-------------------------------------------------------------------
// Greg Smith - Christchurch, NZ | "In a Formula 1 car, there is
// gr...@avonhead.equinox.gen.nz | very little possiblity for you
// gr...@southern.co.nz | to play with your body."
// smi...@kaka.lincoln.ac.nz | - Michael Schumacher


JOE FITZPATRICK

unread,
Aug 24, 1995, 3:00:00 AM8/24/95
to
In a message about Re: What's happening to O, DANN wrote:

D> For all the people who like comparing OS/2/Win95 to VHS/BETA (and
D>it _is_ a good comparison):
D> Beta is not dead. Far from it, it is the standard for the movie
D>industry. I have several friends who freelance in the movie industry
D>doing various jobs (camera man, production assistant, etc) and they
D>constantly use Beta because Beta _is_ superior.

These use BetaCam format which is very different from the old consumer
version of Beta. This is old technology though, most progressive makers
are moving to Hi8.

D> As long as OS/2 is superior, it will be around --

Bye OS/2!

D>buisness doesn't go in for bells and whistles. They may put Win95 on
D>their employees desktops, but when they have something IMPORTANT to
D>get done, they'll use a *real* Operating System.

Windows NT or UNIX is the choice most businesses make.

D>then a lot of people aren't smart enough to be the CEO of a company
D>like IBM.

Going from total domination of an industry to a bit player - smart?

D> And, in less than a year of _really_ being in the desktop market,
D>OS/2 has already done wonders. It's sold over a million copies (don't
D>have any actual sales figures for it), it was in the top 10 best
D>selling software lists for several monthes (the first and only
D>operating system to do that,

Except for MS-DOS 5 and MS-DOS 6.

D> Regardless of the fact of the Win95 release, OS/2 is here to stay,
D>and most Software manufacturers know it --

IBM has not sent out any clear signals to that effect, just the
opposite. That is one of the very many reasons it is not receiving any
support.

D>manufacturers know that Win95 is *not* going to steal much of OS/2's
D>market -- people have a tendency not to downgrade -- while OS/2 will
D>pick up sales from poor Win95 installs alone.

If they can't get Win 95 to install they stand a snowball's chance in
Hell with OS/2 Warp.

-- joe --

internet>> joe.fit...@compudata.com

ş CMPQwk 1.42 9017 şApathists of the world...ahh, forget it.

John Howard

unread,
Aug 26, 1995, 3:00:00 AM8/26/95
to

That is a superb rebuttal to the revisionist. You've obviously been in
the computer industry awhile. I started as a hobbyist around 1977.

Around 1989, I began to appreciate the Apple Mac II from the view of both
a user and programmer but they were too expensive and largely specialized
for the desktop publishing niche. If I couldn't afford the system
without going into debt then I figured it would have a small general
audience.

Then Windows v3.0 came along cheap. It had lousy performance
characteristics but it was the first step towards a Mac desktop clone
targeted for a mass audience. The best reason for why I commited to
programming for Windows v3.x was because Borland began (and continued) to
provide inexpensive tools allowing us DOS programmers to migrate onto a
'universal' graphical user interface (GUI).

I switched to OS/2 when Warp for Intel was released since it provided
pre-emptive 32-bit multitasking and it could run all my existing tools and
custom programs. As an independent programmer I maintained an increasing
investment in tools for DOS, DPMI, and Windows software development.

I was led to believe that Windows NT was the end of the line for Windows
operating systems. So I anxiously awaited the arrival of NT for desktop
use. When NT finally arrived, the "New Technology" had nothing to do
with multimedia or a super advanced user interface. I expected the
operating system to become a baseline to build more intuitive
applications intended for voice/handwriting recognition and digital signal
processing. My reason was because Windows v3.1 kept promising Pen for
Windows and failed to deliver something viable. And the v3.1 sound and
multimedia system was simply adequate for general users. Windows could
not effectively multitask and so faster CPU's and more RAM was required
to compensate. As we now know, the NT has remained targeted for network
Client or Server applications on a variety of hardware platforms. The NT
replacement for Windows95 is years away if they even stick with it.

I did not give OS/2 a fair shot since I incorrectly assumed IBM intended
OS/2 to take a closed system approach as was attempted with the IBM
MicroChannel fiasco. But it is Microsoft which has tried to lock out
competition via pre-loading and now by the affiliation of microsoftie
developers aligned against OS/2. OS/2 Warp is not even acknowleged as
competition to Windows95 by the microsofties. It is because Warp is
superior technology and represents a genuine threat. Windows95
represents designed-in obsolescence as demonstrated by its dependence
upon 16-bit Real mode. Thunk.. thunk.. thunk. It really is a kludge of
yesterdays technology. Yet Windows95 is still an improvement over v3.1
and so it will have a sizable user base initially.

The microsofties create incompatibility such as not offering device
drivers for OS/2 users. Borland basically abandoned OS/2 software
developers like myself who had used Borland Pascal products for years.
There are market opportunities available by serving the existing ten
million OS/2 users. I looked at the shorterm and longterm prospects and
made the switch from Borland Pascal and further Windows development.

I had found out about the Warp migration path. At the least there will
be a Warp for Intel, a Warp for PowerPC, and a Warp for SMP (symmetric
multiprocessors). The microkernal owned by IBM allows them to port OS/2
to advanced machines which can compete with the NT at the highend.

Plus OS/2 Warp has delivered already with the multitaskable handling of
multimedia. Warp for PowerPC will run seamless GUI "personalities" at
the same time and take advantage of accelerated video capabilities. By
contrast, Windows95 is limited to a single instance of GUI. Windows95
lacks the personality feature.

The WIN-OS2 personality is already available for Warp for Intel and will
be available for Warp for PowerPC. The multiple GUI personality concept
is proven now by IBM and is a fundamental asset they own and control.

IBM has the technical and financial resources to develop partnerships to
get high-tech hardware and groupware to the consumer. They are producing
their own high-density memory chips and they own other advanced
technology. They own mass storage technology, voice recognition hardware
and software, user peripherals, and digital signal processing
technology. IBM has the potential to integrate hardware and software
standards of its choosing. And the big turnaround for me is knowing that
IBM is commited to adopting the "Open" standards.

The first choice is Warp for Intel instead of hoping for a future
"personal" NT. Then the migration path is to the PowerPC Reference
Platform (PReP) shared by Apple and Motorola. Warp for PowerPC will run
(using RISC emulation of Intel processors) the same DOS and 16-bit
Windows applications that run on the Intel platform. Warp 32-bit
applications must be native to the specific platform so that they are as
fast as possible. The same application programming interfaces (API's)
are used by OS/2 Warp. Consequently migration of native Warp
applications largely amounts to a recompile. The API's are consistent
and the 32-bit OS/2 is stable and time tested. In summary, Warp is a
reliable bet. People will see why programmers are excited about Warp.

-- John Howard -- Team Ada -- Team OS/2
-- jho...@sky.net
-- Free GNU-based Ada95 compilers are at cs.nyu.edu:pub/gnat
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
"I believe OS/2 is destined to be the most important operat-
ing system, and possibly program, of all time." -- Bill Gates

Source: First sentence in forward written by Bill Gates from
"OS/2 Programmer's Guide" by Ed Iacobucci, ISBN 0-07-881300-X,
published by Osborne McGraw-Hill

ydoom...@gmail.com

unread,
Feb 9, 2013, 2:10:50 AM2/9/13
to
Hi, I'm here from the future. OS/2 easily overtook Microsoft and became the default operating system not only for IBM but Apple Mac computers as well. We take jet pills to work and sleep in memory cubes, movies are broadcast in 18-bit QuickTime VR-Holo, and books are sold on CD-ROM now.

We couldn't have done it without all of you. Thanks for keeping the faith.

JJ

unread,
Feb 10, 2013, 4:50:19 AM2/10/13
to
ydoom...@gmail.com wrote:
> Hi, I'm here from the future. OS/2 easily overtook Microsoft and
> became the default operating system not only for IBM but Apple Mac
> computers as well.

Blatant lies.

> We take
[SNIP]

Irrelevant.
Instead of making OS/2 looks bad, port popular softwares to OS/2 and add
support for major data formats ad file systems, so it can be a viable,
dedicated, alternative OS.

mart...@gmail.com

unread,
May 8, 2018, 11:01:43 AM5/8/18
to
Den tisdag 22 augusti 1995 kl. 09:00:00 UTC+2 skrev Kent H Lundberg:
> Gordon Letwin writes:
> > DOS was, when we first wrote it, a one-time throw-away product
> > intended to keep IBM happy so that they'd buy our languages.
>
> When Microsoft first wrote DOS?!? Ho ho ho, chuckle, chuckle, snort!

I think it is implicitly including consulting work and products they bought from their partners (i.e. Seattle Computer Products).

It is not uncommon in the industry. It has been practiced by Apple, Google and also including IBM.

> Your entire post is filled with this kind of "revisionism". We can't
> trust a word you say. Besides, who cares what you think about marketing

I think it was quite a good and well balanced post.

(Rather unusual for *.advocacy groups I would say.)

> and strategy? Give us some *technical* reasons why we should go with
> Microsoft's products instead of OS/2. You are a technical expert,
> aren't you? Why didn't you fill your post with arguments about the
> technical superiority of Microsoft's products?

I agree with Gordon Letwin here. As long a we live in a market economy, the success in the market (i.e. adoption by users) of a product is vital for it long term success.

This is especially important for software ecosystems we talk about here.


> Oh, yeah. I remember. You *can't*.
> --
> Kent Lundberg kl...@mit.edu
> Microsoft: "Where do you want to go today? Wait for us, we're the leader!"

I do not agree. I actually would guess that he actually very well could make some good argumentations for "OS/2 3/NT"(i.e. Win NT).

But it was not the focus of his post in this case. It was the market reality and long term prospect for OS/2 (or lack thereof).

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