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Apr 25 2010   7:14PM GMT

OS/2 mostly gone, but not forgotten

badarrow Barbara Darrow Profile: badarrow

If you think no one cares about IBM OS/2, the mostly defunct operating system, publish a story on it and wait for the email.

OS/2, for all its faults and foibles, still generates a ton of interest.

One early OS/2 proponent who is supremely skeptical that it will ever surface again, admits he still has his OS/2 Warp shrink wrap product “just in case.”

One reader said the world would be surprised by how many ATMs still run OS/2.  Another wanted to flog the upcoming Warpstock Europe. A featured presentation will be putting OS/2’s object-oriented Workplace Shell (WPS) on a modern system

Still others bemoaned the passing of mainstream OS/2–although some still use it in the form of eComstation. More than a few said if IBM should revive it, it should bring in a third party to market it.

What one self-proclaimed tinkerer said he loved about OS/2–which he used from 1993 to 1995–was its “frugality.”  He said it worked easily in 8 MB whereas Windows NT 3.X would “throw up its hands and fall over given anything less than 12 MB.”

Funny, my recollection is that OS/2 was slammed as a resource hog but that may have been on the PC client side.

Another correspondent sees a ton of applicability for a new-and-improved OS/2. Customers with large existing custom apps that would require huge investments to port or redevelop for other OSes, would be beneficiaries.

Some of those apps are mission-critical control systems where “failure is absolutely not an option.” In such cases, he wrote, virtualization is not viable because of the real time nature of the application.
Other OS/2 apps are embedded and tightly tied to existing hardware.

Still others said OS/2’s promised “better Windows than Windows” ability to run WIndows (and even DOS apps) lived up to the hype.

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