Here we can see, “What Was IBM’s OS/2, and Why Did It Lose to Windows?”
IBM’s OS/2 OS, first released in 1987, occupies a weird place in PC lore. If you were around some time past, you almost certainly heard that it had been once better than Windows, yet few people used it. So, what was the effect of OS/2? Let’s find out!
OS/2 Was Intended to Replace DOS
OS/2 (Operating System/2) debuted in 1987 with the IBM PS/2 line. This line was designed to require IBM’s PC series to new heights with new standards, like VGA, the PS/2 mouse and keyboard interface, and therefore the Micro Channel Architecture (MCA) bus. Therefore, it made sense to possess a replacement OS, and OS/2 fit the bill.
(Ironically, the best-selling lower-end models of the PS/2 line didn’t have the cutting-edge hardware features and ran PC-DOS with Windows, instead.)
The development of OS/2 started in 1985 as a joint project between IBM and Microsoft, which developed the PC-DOS OS that shipped with IBM machines. The partners intended to exchange DOS with a complicated 32-bit protected mode OS to provide the software framework for advanced future applications.
For a time, Microsoft primarily developed OS/2 and even released its private-label version called, unsurprisingly, “Microsoft OS/2.” However, after the huge success of Windows 3.0 in 1990, the partnership between IBM and Microsoft ended. IBM developed future versions of OS/2 on its own, and therefore the line diverged significantly from Windows.
Still, OS/2 remained notable during the early-to-mid ’90s for being a 32-bit protected mode OS (starting with version 2.0) for IBM PC compatibles. This allowed preemptive multitasking of multiple OS/2, DOS, or Windows apps simultaneously in a rock-solid way.
It also did this at a time when Microsoft’s MS-DOS and Windows ecosystem was, generally, less stable and less full-featured. Those capabilities won OS/2 many fans, but it still never had an equivalent market impact as Windows.
Notable Versions of OS/2
From 1987-96, IBM released the subsequent major versions of OS/2 (some with notable revisions) and continued to update it with bug fixes until 2001:
- OS/2 1. x (1987-90): almost like MS-DOS, the primary version (1.0) was command-line only. But version 1.1 (1988) included a graphical window interface, almost like Windows 3.0, later.
- OS/2 2. x (1991-94): the primary 32-bit version developed without Microsoft (although legacy code was used). It had also been the primary version to incorporate the Workspace Shell GUI.
- OS/2 Warp 3. x (1994-95): Warp was an effort at a cool marketing angle for IBM. This version streamlined OS performance by reducing memory usage. It also included internet connectivity components for the primary time.
- OS/2 Warp 4 (1996-01): This release further integrated internet support, updated the Workspace Shell appearance, and included support for technologies like Java and OpenGL. the essential framework of Warp 4 still receives updates and software support from third-party vendors.
OS/2 vs. Windows: A Fierce Battle
So, why did Microsoft win? Opinions on this are varied and controversial. But, consistent with IBM veterans (like Dave Whittle during this detailed answer), Windows undermined OS/2 through a mixture of intense marketing, dirty tricks, and unwavering support of lower-cost, low-end machines.
A deciding think about the battle came with the near-simultaneous releases of OS/2 2.0 ($195) and Windows 3.1 ($150) in 1992. Consumers perceived OS/2 as a product specifically for IBM machines (which were generally costlier than clones). Windows 3.1, however, could run on cheaper, mass-market machines.
Also, OS/2 had a chicken-and-egg problem. Its best point was its compatibility with MS-DOS and Windows applications. However, this meant few developers took the time to write down OS/2-native apps. So, why run OS/2 at all?
Microsoft also developed best-selling productivity apps, like Word and Excel, that (suspiciously) appeared to run better on Windows than OS/2.
Still, IBM didn’t hand it over. In ’94, when OS/2 Warp was released, the general public battle between the 2 firms became quite heated. Veterans of that era might recall how bitter OS/2 advocates were when Microsoft’s supposedly “inferior” products won the day.
This opinion remains common among those that used OS/2.
OS/2 Lives on!
The success of Windows didn’t immediately spell the top for OS/2. IBM continued to support it until 2001. it had been heavily utilized in ATMs and other embedded applications thanks to its stability.
Even today, OS/2 is employed widely enough to live on via OS/2-based operating systems sold and supported by vendors like eComStation and Arca Noae. The ny Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) still uses OS/2 to power elements of the latest York City’s famous subway system. A project called Warpzilla also maintains ports of semi-modern web browsers for OS/2.
If you think about OS/2’s stability and longevity, IBM must have done something right, albeit Microsoft’s marketing muscle had overshadowed it. So instead of considering it just an “also-ran,” perhaps it’s time OS/2 got touch respect.
I hope you found this guide useful. If you’ve got any questions or comments, don’t hesitate to use the shape below.
- Why did IBM lose to Microsoft?
Consumers perceived OS/2 as a product specifically for IBM machines (which were generally costlier than clones). Windows 3.1, however, could run on cheaper, mass-market machines. Also, OS/2 had a chicken-and-egg problem. Its best point was its compatibility with MS-DOS and Windows applications.
- Who made OS 2?
IBM OS/2, fully International Business Machines Operating System/2, an OS introduced in 1987 by IBM and the Microsoft Corporation to work the second-generation line of IBM personal computers, the PS/2 (Personal System/2).
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As Microsoft has released Windows 11 on 24th June 2021, Windows 10 and Windows 7 users want to upgrade their Windows 11. Windows 11 may be a free upgrade, and everybody can upgrade from Windows 10 to Windows 11 for free of charge. However, you ought to have some basic knowledge while upgrading your windows.
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