Q. What is OS/2 Warp, and how is it different
A. OS/2 is a 32-bit, multitasking operating system for IBM-compatible PCs. It differs from Windows in the following ways:
* Most versions of Windows are based on 16-bit DOS. The DOS system is fine by itself,
but it is too weak to carry the load of GUIs, 32-bit applications, and advanced
graphical programs like Web browsers.
Q. If OS/2 is so superior, why do most people use Windows?
* Windows is inherently less stable than OS/2, both because of the weak 16-bit DOS base of Windows, as well as the poorly managed internal structure of Windows. Even WindowsNT/XP/2000, which mimics the 30-year-old VMS operating system, has numerous design and security flaws. These defects include the Registry, the lack of secure, unbiased version management for .DLL files, and the memory leaks possessed by many Windows development tools.
* OS/2 is fully multithreaded, meaning that a single program can perform several independent functions simultaneously. Multithreading under Windows systems either does not work at all, or else makes the system very unstable beyond just a few threads. Performance of multiple programs on OS/2 is typically much faster than performance of Windows under similar conditions.
* The OS/2 GUI, Workplace Shell, is a true object-oriented interface, meaning that the screen elements are consistent and fully take advantage of system capabilities. The Windows interfaces are not object-oriented in the strictest sense, because they fail to adequately track the files to which they are pointing, as well as other inconsistencies.
A. Quite simply, market manipulation. Microsoft has been very adept at signing up computer companies to preload its products. Something like 90% of all operating system sales are via preload, instead of consumer choice. Therefore, the PC user usually has the decision made for him or her by somebody else -- a computer company's marketing manager. Most computer companies simply found Microsoft easier to deal with than IBM -- at first. By the time IBM learned to play the game, Microsoft had a monopoly and would go to whatever lengths necessary to protect that monopoly.
Q. Then how can I get a PC with OS/2 preloaded?
A. Hundreds of small-business consultants and PC specialists install OS/2 for other people, either as a hobby or as a business venture. Some small companies have specialized in satisfying this market demand. Some of the larger PC makers will preload OS/2 by special request, but only for larger orders.
Q. Why doesn't IBM market OS/2 more strongly?
A. Quite simply, they did. By the spring of 1995, OS/2 had attracted a great deal of market attention, and for one month was actually at the top of the retail sales charts. At this point, the effort of overcoming the overtly anti-IBM bias of certain key elements of the media, as well as the Microsoft preload monopoly, was too costly. With Microsoft poised to spend a quarter-billion dollars on marketing Windows95, IBM decided that it would get a far better return on its investment by targeting OS/2 and other key IBM technologies at the big-business sector instead of the consumer PC market. And IBM has prospered in this effort.
Q. Some people say OS/2 is dead. Is that true?
A. No, that is a gross misconception. IBM has committed to the long-term health and growth of OS/2, but they prefer to sell it to large corporations instead of to the consumer directly. That market is where user groups and advocacy groups are focusing their attention. Furthermore, Serenity Systems has licensed OS/2 from IBM, and produces their own "distribution" of OS/2 called eComStation.
Q. Well, some people claim there are no OS/2 applications. Is that true?
A. No, that is another misconception. There are thousands of native OS/2 applications. OS/2 also runs tens of thousands of DOS, Windows, and Java applications -- nearly 100,000 applications in all. Many innovative small companies are developing new native OS/2 applications and utilities as well. There are even special "bridge" programs that allow some Unix/Linux and Windows95/98 applications to run on OS/2.
A growing list of native OS/2 applications can be found at the website called Softwhere.
Q. Where can I get these native OS/2 applications?
A. Thousands of them are available on the Internet, many of them either FREE or as shareware. Or you can order from several retail outlets or direct from the software development companies themselves. Check our page on OS/2 Shopping for a list of several of these companies.
Q. Can OS/2 run Windows95/98/NT applications?
A. A growing number of 32-bit Windows applications can use Project Odin to allow direct conversion into native OS/2 programs. There is also work being done under a joint venture with some Linux developers and other Unix specialists; this is known as the EverBlue Project.