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  1. Technology
June 1, 1994


By CBR Staff Writer

At the OS/2 Technical Interchange at the end of April, One Up Corp formally introduced SMART, its conversion tool designed primarily to help migration of 16-bit Windows applications to 32-bit OS/2. IBM attaches such importance to the product that it has signed a deal with the Dallas-based company to promote the product, on the grounds that applications sell operating systems. However Microsoft Corp is beginning to move the goalposts as it encourages developers to use the various Win32 applications programming interfaces. Even One Up itself doubts that Smart can provide a long-term solution. Instead, IBM will have to support the Win32 interfaces within OS/2 – assuming, of course, that the new Microsoft programming interface takes off. Smart consists of two parts: an Analysis and Reporting Tool, and a Source Migration Tool. The former trundles through the application source code and presents the developer with an indication of the size of the conversion effort. The Migration tool, by contrast does the migration work. Or at least the easy parts. The company claims that it can convert up to 70% of the applications programming interface and message code – the rest is up to the programmer. One Up president Richard Dews says there are around 4,721 differences between Windows and OS/2, not counting the changes needed for conversion from 16-bit to 32-bit code, or the use of third-party libraries. In the next few months, the company will issue an additional code-drop to developers that will tackle converting Win32s-compliant Windows code. And if you thought Win16 was bad, Win32s sounds positively nightmarish. Dews says that so far, the company is about halfway through analysing the differences between OS/2 and Win32s and it has already identified about 15,000 places where the two diverge.

Mistake for IBM to chase Bill

Dews is confident of Smart’s ability to manage Win32s, but says quite openly that the approach has a limited life span: Smart has a lifetime of a year or two… It would be a mistake for IBM to chase Bill [Gates] with Smart says Dews, who believes that a much more feasible approach would be for IBM to support the core Win32 applications programming interfaces within OS/2. People are going to have to make a choice in the next nine to 18 months as to the applications programming interfaces they want to develop for, he believes; it will not be feasible to support dual code bases across the two systems. Is he optimistic about OS/2’s ability to dominate the desktop? It’s too early to say, Chicago isn’t out into the market yet, he says. As it stands, there are few Win32s applications on the market. However, in certain niches, their prevalence is enough to get OS/2 users hopping. The National Computing Support Agency’s new version of Windows Mosaic, the popular browser for the Worldwide Web, has gone 32-bit, much to the chagrin of OS/2 users who can’t run it any more. Similarly, a number of public domain MPEG movie players have made the jump. The authors of these utilities all have the perfect rationale for using the 32-bit applications programming interfaces – it makes coding easier, they say. Meanwhile, IBM is not making any commitments to supporting the Microsoft applications programming interfaces. The twin messages coming from IBM are ‘don’t worry, we could certainly support Win32 if we wanted to’ and ‘we won’t support it until there is sufficient demand.’ The company has a point. Many developers are still trying to decide which applications programming interfaces to go for after the big Microsoft reshuffle officially merged Win32s, Win32c and Win32, and IBM doesn’t want to go to the trouble of implementing something that will prove a niche, or transient standard. As for One Up, the company is already working on its next, even more ambitious product. Dews describes ‘Commander’ as building on Smart to produce a general purpose source code massaging tool which will aid the programmer in doing radical things like converting old Cobol programs into C, or turning monolithic applications into multi-threaded offe

rings. Sounds too good to be true? It will appear in beta form in July, says Dew, so you will be able to judge for yourself. – Chris Rose

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