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So farewell then, OS/2 – Windowed to death, finally

'Better Windows than Windows' Losedows

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Hats off to PC Magazine's John C Dvorak for noting that last Tuesday IBM finally pulled the plugs on OS/2. With a long and characteristically detailed death notice, years after the shooting died down (this is also characteristic), IBM has finally brought the Great Rebellion to a close.

We at The Register enjoyed it while it lasted, and we're sure John C did as well, even as the good guys were losing.

Yes, those were the days. The Win32 ambush that undermined the 2.0 rollout, with years of crocked Microsoft operating systems a small price to pay for that. IBM's benighted counterstrike that attempted, weirdly, to position OS/2 Warp as a games OS, and rather more plausibly as an Internet-enabled one. And what passed for an OEM sales team at IBM PSP confidently confiding in The Reg that victory was assured, while we shouted 'for god's sake, will you just leave Dos alone and go for the jugular? These Microsoft sales guys are barracudas!"

Note that our prescient remarks about Microsoft's sales team were uttered well before the trial documentation, or indeed the trial, existed. We just knew.

OS/2, the better OS, lost to the worse one because IBM's sales people did not have the skills, the clout or the customer base to go up against Microsoft's, so they were unable to transition the PC OEMs from Dos to OS/2, and stop them going from Dos to Windows. They were also hamstrung on price, because in addition to the Windows licence that had to ship with most versions of OS/2 (there was a 'Warp for Windows' version that was an exception), Microsoft owned swathes of the code, and the price could therefore never be competitive.

Although it's now gone from the IBM books, it still exists in the form of eComStation, but the price problem is still all too visible if you look here, where you'll see you're talking €/$360 a pop.

John C points out that the Microsoft ownership issue effectively made open sourcing OS/2 a non-starter, which is a great pity, because it would have been fun and could have been a contender. But that issue had a lot to do with it losing in the first place, before it got to the point that IBM might has well have given it away, if it could have.

Did we mention the Workplace OS? No we didn't, and we're not going to. Suffice to say IBM did ship this, sort of, at the same time as cancelling further development. The Reg even managed to extract a copy from them to run on our OEM-badged IBM PowerPC 601 workstation. These barely shipped as well, and the OS code turned out to have a PowerPC 604 minimum requirement. Happy days, indeed. ®

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