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Wicked IBM execs bayonet ailing OS/2

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At the last minute, IBM has torpedoed plans for a new OS/2 client from Stardock Systems, despite apparently having no plans for a new client of its own. The decision, made by IBM last Thursday, comes after six months of negotiation and an agreement in principle, so it looks suspiciously like IBM corporate would prefer to see OS/2 dead sooner rather than later. According to Stardock Object Desktop product manager Brad Wardell his company had approached IBM in 1998,suggesting that Stardock license OS/2 technology on an OEM basis and make a new client available. Stardock's proposal won support from OS/2 partisans within IBM, and six months were spent thrashing out the details of the product: "everything from potential names down to which minute components would or would not be included," says Wardell. The culmination of this process took place last week, where the IBMers in favour of the deal made their pitch at executive level - and were told "nope." Says Wardell: "The call has been made -- there will be no new client from Stardock and IBM has indicated that they have no plans for an OS/2 based client of their own... they have decided that it is currently not in IBM's or their customer's interests to license any current OS/2 technology on an OEM-basis... IBM has simply finally made the decision that a new OS/2 client would be in conflict with their strategic directions." So far, we can only speculate as to why the existence of what would inevitably be a relatively small number of updated OS/2 clients would conflict with IBM's strategic directions. IBM has made its intention of moving OS/2 users over onto thin clients and then magically disappearing them pretty clear for some years now, so maybe having OS/2 fat clients staying viable is seen as conflicting with this. Or then again there might be an outside chance that IBM doesn't want to do an OEM licensing deal because it intends to open source OS/2. We confidently predict this will happen one day - but we can't help noticing that IBM doesn't generally get around to giving stuff away until it's too old for most people to care. It's the Smithsonian approach to open source... ®

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