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August 18, 1988

MICROSOFT SETS POSIX COMPATIBILITY PLAN TO RESCUE OS/2…

By CBR Staff Writer

The OS/2 operating system has joined the 9370 and RT on IBM’s list of intended-to-be-strategic products that need urgent attention if they are to be rescued from the dismal fate that befell the 8100 and the Series 1 – and Microsoft Corp’s Bill Gates revealed that a key move to save OS/2 will be a development effort to add Posix compatibility to the operating system. Posix, the Portable Unix standard, can either run native, in which case it is little different from Unix System V, or hosted, in which case it sits above the native operating system, but crucially provides an Applications Programming Interface, the promise being that if developers write to this interface, their applications will run with little or no modification on any Posix-compliant system. Commenting on the Microsoft plan, Dominic Dunlop of Sphinx Ltd declared that DEC’s VMS – for which Posix compatibility is promised, is a much better starting piont than OS/2, aspects of terminal device control being particularly fraught in the context of putting Posix on top of OS/2. According to the West German weekly Computerwoche, OS/2 Extended Edition is generating far less interest than its proponents had hoped, with software houses and dealers describing demand as derisory. A freqently-aired criticism is that the operating system is simply too big and much too expensive: if you want to vote the IBM ticket, PS/2s ain’t cheap, the operating system is much more expensive than MS-DOS, and you need a minimum of about 6Mb memory and a 30Mb hard disk to run OS/2 Extended Edition.

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