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November 22, 1995

IBM PULLS OUT ALL THE STOPS TO REVIVIFY OS/2 INTEREST

By CBR Staff Writer

Recently appointed general manager for IBM Corp’s Personal Software Products division, John Thompson tried to convince those at Comdex that IBM remained committed to OS/2 and that the future of the operating system remained bright even in the wake of Windows95 and Windows NT. Quoting analysts, he said that both OS/2 Warp and LAN Server had seen significant growth in corporate markets with 4m copies of Warp sold, outstripping total Unix shipments by nine times. Similarly, shipments of LAN Server were double those of Windows NT in the server market, he said. However, as these figures were skewed towards OS/2 because it has been shipping for a longer period, more realistic figures for the first half of 1995 were quoted as being OS/2 shipments at 24% of the network operating systems market and Windows NT a close second at 22%. Focusing on IBM’s plans for Lotus SmartSuite, Thompson said that it was currently developing a whole series of Windows products for SmartSuite that would ship next year under OS/2. This will start with WordPro 96 and Freelance Graphics for OS/2. It would also incorporate 32-bit OS/2 versions of Approach and Organiser, he said. IBM has 100 software titles available for OS/2 and Thompson said that OS/2 and related sales now accounted for $1,000m of business and this figure was growing at a compound growth rate of around 40%. However, to increase sales further, he said that IBM planned to enhance both client and server versions of Warp. On the client side IBM chose Comdex to demonstrate user interface prototypes of Merlin, the next version of the OS/2 Warp client, which it claims will have improved multimedia and games facilities and an easier to use user interface. The Merlin interface is said to bear a remarkable resemblance to Windows95 and incorporates some of Lotus’s Infobox technology. Merlin will include IBM’s DIVE Direct Interactive Video Extension application programming interfaces, an MS-DOS-Warp toggling feature called Trap Door, support for Windows95 file allocation table that will enable Warp users to work with long file names, and support for Object REXX and PowerSOM. There is suggestion that IBM is also trying to include other multimedia features in Merlin to make it more competitive with Microsoft’s Windows, including CD autoplay, Win/TV applet support, and real-time Musical Instrument Digital Interface support.

C-2 security extension

Merlin will also include Upgrade Advisor, a utility in the Just Add OS/2 Warp kit which simplifies the installation process and an updated version of BonusPak. It will also include C-2 security extension and improved input-output queue performance for corporate users. Developer application program interface extensions are also planned to make it easier for software developers to write Windows95 and OS/2 applications at the same time. Merlin will also include integrated OpenDoc run-time support enabling developers to use OpenDoc components in their applications and embed OLE 2.0 information in OS/2 Warp documents. IBM is also rumoured to be considering adding two-way symmetric multiprocessing to Merlin. A substantial part of IBM product strategy also hinges on plans to produce a portable microkernel-based version of Warp for iAPX-86 and PowerPC processors, the first of which will ship on the PowerPC later this year, it said. Thompson said the microkernel would be the long-term structure for OS/2 and that IBM would make further enhancements to the microkernel in 1996. He said that 15 vendors had so far committed to writing applications for the kernel including Digital Equipment Corp and Bell Northern Research. IBM says it plans to to maintain the Warp server momentum by making several more server components available including a Notes user interface, Internet access, and enhanced database, systems management and transaction processing components. The components will be sold separately so users need buy only what they want. Thompson said that non-IBM components could be installed but declined to say which ones. The server will also be one operating system on which Eagle, IBM’s suite of server applications will be based. OS/2 Warp Server is expected to ship in the first quarter of 1996, followed by Directory and Security Services versions of OS/2 Warp. The first release will be iAPX-86 and not PowerPC-based which many felt was an indication of the lack of demand for PowerPC. IBM maintained that OS/2 was still the predominant Notes server in the market. The first version of Warp Connect PowerPC Edition is set to ship in December and will be sold only preloaded on PowerPC hardware; it will not have local network client support. The software will theoretically run in 16Mb but IBM recommends between 24Mb and 32Mb.

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