Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 25th Nov 2013 17:32 UTC, submitted by toralux
OS/2 and eComStation

It was now 1984, and IBM had a different problem: DOS was pretty much still a quick and dirty hack. The only real new thing that had been added to it was directory support so that files could be organized a bit better on the IBM PC/AT’s new hard disk. And thanks to the deal that IBM signed in 1980, the cloners could get the exact same copy of DOS and run exactly the same software. IBM needed to design a brand new operating system to differentiate the company from the clones. Committees were formed and meetings were held, and the new operating system was graced with a name: OS/2.

Fantastic article at Ars Technica about the rise and demise of IBM's OS/2. OS/2 is one of those big 'what-ifs' of the technology world, along the lines of 'what if Apple had purchased Be instead of NEXT' or 'what if Nokia had opted for Android' (sorry). Our technology world could've been a lot different had OS/2 won over Windows 3.x/95.

I reviewed OS/2 as it exists today (eComStation) six years ago.

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IBM couldn't have it all...
by xfce_fanboy on Sat 30th Nov 2013 19:48 UTC
xfce_fanboy
Member since:
2013-04-09

The downfall of IBM's personal computer division is that it wanted to dominate the industry from both the hardware and software aspects. This is just impossible. Microsoft came close to dominance with over 90% control of the OS market at one point, but MS was wise enough to stay out of hardware (until now, with largely-disappointing results in the PC/mobile market.)

OS/2 and PS/2 might have been able to succeed if IBM had released them together as inseparable aspects of a superior computing experience. The PC clone market was ripe for a new OS during the latter half of the 80's. It wasn't until Win3.0 in 1990 that the PC experience could measure up to the Mac (and the PC didn't really measure up to Amiga until Win95 came out!)

IBM should have realized that they might be able to control about 7-10% of the hardware market if they concentrated on making the entire PS/2 experience superior to the beige-box clones, and made OS/2 an exclusive but inseparable part of that experience. Instead they overreached, lost the OS battle with former partner Microsoft, and eventually declined as a PC maker until they sold out to Lenovo.

Of course, it's hard to tell if the courts of the late 80's or early 90's would have allowed IBM to use the restrictive licensing terms which have made it possible for Apple to make OS X exclusive to their machines in more recent times...

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