The dull outlook for the OS/2 operating system has grown so much darker in recent months that IBM is making no pretence of adhering to its not commenting on unannounced products policy, and has been discussing details of the next release of 16-bit OS/2. According to Microbytes Daily, the company says it has met last November’s commitment to reduce the base memory requirement – 3Mb in OS/2 1.2 – to 2Mb, and significantly improved performance. The new swapper is both faster and smaller, IBM said, so that Lotus 1-2-3/G running under the new OS/2 needs only 2Mb to 3Mb of main memory plus 3Mb of disk space, as against 4Mb RAM, 5Mb of disk with OS/2 1.2. IBM also claimed that new memory management facilities do a better job of recovering small segments of memory allocated to inactive tasks, by moving active tasks down into lower memory and freeing up larger amounts of free space above, which should reduce demand for virtual memory and improve performance. The loader has also been rewritten to make file and network access faster – by as much as 50% to 80% because the loader now reads data in larger blocks, so reducing the number of input-output accesses needed to complete a task. The loader also now activates the data compression capabilities that were already included in OS/2 but have not been used up to now. The next release will also include Adobe’s Type Manager, which provides scalable outline fonts that are better than the proprietary fonts currently included and should write to the screen more rapidly. And the bit depth for 8514 displays has been increased to 16 bits from 2 bits to provide 32 grey shades from just four. The new 1.3 release of OS/2 is expected by year-end – but there’s still no word on the full 32-bit version.