OS / 2
|OS / 2 warp|
|developer||IBM / Microsoft (until 1991)|
|Current version||4.52 Convenience Pack 2 from April 2002|
↳ OS / 2
Development: finished in 2005; is with eComStation but continued
OS / 2 ( O perating S ystem / 2 - initially at IBM Germany also BS / 2 for operating system / 2 ) is a multitasking operating system for the PC . It was originally developed jointly by IBM and Microsoft as the successor to DOS . After Microsoft ended the cooperation in 1991 in order to devote itself instead to the further development of Windows , IBM continued to develop OS / 2 on its own. In 2005, the distribution and basic development of IBM were discontinued, under the brand name eComStation the operating system has been developed by third parties since then. As the successor to eComStation and OS / 2, " ArcaOS " from Arca Noae has been available since 2017 .
In January 1983 Microsoft began development on a version of MS-DOS that could run not just one program but several programs at the same time. This was later published under the name MS-DOS 4.0 . However, this version of MS-DOS had some limitations. Multitasking skills were limited to applications designed specifically for this version of MS-DOS; otherwise only a conventional MS-DOS application could be run. In addition, since the operating system ran completely in real mode , all applications had to share the conventional 640 KiB memory . Because of these limitations, this version of MS-DOS did not appear in stores, but was only licensed to certain OEMs .
Microsoft then developed the operating system further. To remove the limitations of the previous version, the protection mode of the 80286 processor should be exploited. Microsoft signed a contract with IBM in which both companies agreed to jointly develop the operating system, now known as CP / DOS. Towards the end of development, the operating system was renamed again and was henceforth OS / 2.
The 80286 had a big problem: although the processor could switch from real mode to protection mode, the reverse route, i.e. switching from protection mode back to real mode, was not intended. However, this was necessary in order to be able to maintain compatibility with DOS applications that can only run in real mode. This problem could only be resolved when a way was found to reset the processor so that it was back in real mode.
On April 2, 1987, Microsoft and IBM officially announced the new operating system. The first version should be text-based like DOS, a later version should then contain a graphical user interface derived from Windows called Presentation Manager . At the same time Microsoft announced a development kit for the new operating system, which should be available for 3,000 US dollars. This development kit was released two months later.
OS / 2 1.x
Earlier than announced, IBM released the first version of OS / 2 on December 4, 1987, priced at $ 325. Microsoft's version of OS / 2 was released almost two weeks later. While IBM sold OS / 2 directly, Microsoft licensed the operating system to OEMs, who delivered it with their computers and adapted it accordingly. The system requirements of the operating system, which appeared on four floppy disks, were an 80286 processor with at least 2 MiB of RAM and 5 MiB of hard disk space. The first version looked very similar to DOS due to the lack of a graphical user interface, but underneath it concealed a multitasking operating system that can manage up to 12 OS / 2 sessions at the same time and supports up to 16 MiB of RAM. OS / 2 also offered another session in which most DOS applications could be run. In July 1988, IBM released the OS / 2 Extended Edition at $ 795, which included additional database and communications programs.
However, there was also criticism. In view of the large number of computers with 80286 processors, it is understandable that OS / 2 was developed for this processor, but the 80386 had already appeared since then , offering numerous advantages over the 80286. In addition, the operating system lacks a powerful file system - OS / 2 continued to use the FAT16 file system taken over from DOS , which did not support long file names and was limited to a maximum partition size of 32 MiB in the version at that time. It was generally said that OS / 2 had no advantages over DOS as long as there was no software for the new operating system.
On October 31, 1988, version 1.1 of OS / 2 appeared, which for the first time contained the long-awaited graphical user interface. However, this wasn't the only new feature: OS / 2 now supported partitions larger than 32 MiB. One of the first applications for the new user interface was Borland's SideKick software package , which was included with the operating system from November. OS / 2 1.1, which has now grown to five floppy disks, had similar system requirements as the previous version, but required 8 MiB of hard disk space. At that time, mainly missing drivers stood in the way of widespread use of the operating system, and printer drivers in particular were only very sparse with the operating system.
OS / 2 1.2 followed in September 1989. This version offered the possibility of so-called installable file systems for the first time ; which, like device drivers, are loaded when the system is started and, in principle, can enable access to any file system. One of these installable file systems, HPFS , is included with OS / 2 1.2: HPFS is more efficient than the previous FAT file system, and it also supports long file names and partitions larger than 2 gibibytes . Any data, so-called extended attributes , can also be attached to files. However, there is no backward compatibility; DOS cannot access HPFS partitions and files that use long filenames are not visible to DOS and older OS / 2 applications. OS / 2 1.2 also includes a revised user interface and some additional applications.
Version 1.3 of OS / 2 came out in November 1990. This contained hardly any innovations, but was only an improved version of OS / 2 1.2, which had lower system requirements and contained more drivers. However, the response to this version was low.
Separation of the two development partners
The relationship between the two companies was strained from the start. IBM and Microsoft were two different companies with different goals. Microsoft wanted to make OS / 2, similar to DOS and Windows, available as a software platform for many different PCs, while IBM wanted to use OS / 2 to boost sales of its own computers, especially the PS / 2 product range. The developers of both companies were also often involved in mutual conflicts. IBM used lines of code as a measure of developer productivity; Microsoft's developers, on the other hand, wrote short and efficient code and were therefore considered unproductive from IBM's point of view. Microsoft's developers, in turn, complained about the bureaucracy on the part of IBM. Microsoft wanted to quickly adapt OS / 2 to the 80386 processor, but because of customer promises, IBM held against it and continued to propagate the 80286 version.
The tension finally discharged when Windows 3.0 came out and became a huge hit. OS / 2 only sold 300,000 copies within four years, while Windows 3.0 had already sold 3 million copies after one year. Initially, it was said that IBM would take sole responsibility for the next version of OS / 2, version 2.0, while Microsoft was developing version 3.0, the one after that. Eventually Microsoft gave up OS / 2 development entirely and used the resources to develop a new operating system called Windows NT .
OS / 2 2.x
Accompanied by a large advertising campaign, the now independent IBM released OS / 2 2.0 on April 1, 1992. The company described OS / 2 as “ a better DOS than DOS and a better Windows than Windows ” (German: “a better DOS than DOS and a better Windows than Windows ”). OS / 2 was now a 32-bit operating system that took advantage of the capabilities of the 80386 , although the operating system still contained large chunks of 16-bit code. For the first time, the operating system was able to run several DOS applications in parallel and also offered the possibility of starting Windows applications in a special Win-OS / 2 environment , either directly embedded as a window in the OS / 2 environment or in full-screen mode could be executed. Full-screen mode was faster, but limited to 640 × 480 and 16 colors due to the lack of support for graphics card drivers. In addition, the Win-OS / 2 environment only supported the standard mode, which excluded applications that required the 386 extended mode.
OS / 2 2.0 replaced the Presentation Manager with the new Workplace Shell . The concept of the workplace shell follows the paradigm that everything is an object, such as icons, windows or even the desktop background, and can be adjusted using methods such as drag and drop . The user interface was considered extremely flexible, but at the same time difficult to learn. The Workplace Shell also remembered the open applications when shutdown and started them again as soon as the operating system started up again.
Version 2.1 of OS / 2 followed on May 18, 1993. This version offered multimedia support for the first time as well as numerous drivers, especially for SCSI devices, graphics cards, CD-ROM drives and PCMCIA devices. In addition, the Win-OS / 2 environment has been brought up to the status of Windows 3.1 and, in contrast to OS / 2 2.0, supports the 386 enhanced mode. Through various optimizations, above all the porting of the graphics functions to 32 bit, the performance could be increased significantly compared to version 2.0. In January 1994 OS / 2 for Windows followed , a version of OS / 2 that lacked the Win-OS / 2 environment and instead used Windows 3.1 already installed on the computer to run Windows programs within OS / 2. At $ 149, this version was cheaper than the regular OS / 2, which cost $ 249, and could in principle also be used without Windows - but then without support for Windows programs. In July 1994, OS / 2 2.11 SMP was released, the first version of OS / 2 to support multiprocessor systems with up to 16 processors.
The release of OS / 2 2.1 was dominated by the growing competition, especially from Windows NT, which is currently being developed by competitor Microsoft, but also from graphical Unix systems. OS / 2 2.x had the time advantage because it had already been on the market for a year and could therefore come up with 32-bit applications. However, the operating system only ran on the x86 processor and showed considerable deficits in both security and networking.
OS / 2 3.x
IBM announced to work on a new version of OS / 2 under the name Personal OS / 2 . This should have a lower memory consumption and so compete directly with Windows 3.1. Personal OS / 2 became OS / 2 3.0 and in October 1994 the operating system appeared under the name OS / 2 Warp . OS / 2 Warp initially appeared in two versions, similar to OS / 2 2.1 before, which were also called Blue Spine and Red Spine because of their packaging : Blue Spine contained the Win-OS / 2 environment, as in previous versions, while Red Spine was using an already installed Windows.
OS / 2 Warp mainly contained a few improvements to the graphical user interface, including the LaunchPad for faster program start- ups . The biggest innovation, however, was the accompanying BonusPak , with which IBM countered the lack of applications for OS / 2. These included, for example, IBM Works , a collection of office applications similar to its competitor Microsoft Works, as well as a collection of Internet programs that offered a simple way of dialing into the Internet via a modem and using the included programs such as a web browser . OS / 2 Warp Connect followed in May 1995, which, like the normal version of OS / 2 Warp, appeared as Blue Spine and Red Spine . This version of OS / 2 offered additional network functions compared to the normal version of OS / 2, such as TCP / IP support, a Netware client, file and printer sharing and a remote client similar to the Remote Access Service under Windows.
On February 26, 1996, OS / 2 Warp Server 4.0 appeared - despite its name, a version of OS / 2 Warp 3.0 - and succeeded the previously separate product LAN Server . Among other things, this offers a DHCP server and dynamic DNS . In addition, IBM integrated numerous products into the operating system that previously had to be purchased separately. These include, for example, the system administration program SystemView , with which both the server and the connected clients can be managed, a backup solution called Personally Safe and Sound , and a replication service for laptops. OS / 2 Warp Server 4.0 was released in both a normal version at a price of 629 US dollars and an advanced version for 1299 US dollars; the latter supported more clients, the HPFS386 file system , software RAID and disk quotas . In September 1996 a version of OS / 2 Warp Server 4.0 Advanced followed with SMP support.
In 1995, IBM sold 5.4 million copies of OS / 2, of which 2.1 million were with IBM computers, 2.2 million were commercially available and 1.1 million were through OEMs.
OS / 2 4.x
In September 1995, IBM announced a new version of OS / 2, code-named Merlin , which was due to appear in March 1996. However, this date was delayed and so IBM did not start the beta test of Merlin until June 13, during which a previous version of the operating system was released to 10,000 testers. At times, IBM planned to implement support for 32-bit Windows applications in Merlin, but refrained from doing so. After another beta test in August, IBM released OS / 2 Warp 4.0 on September 25, 1996. OS / 2 Warp 4.0 contained a completely redesigned user interface. Via the WarpCenter , which replaces the LaunchPad , programs can be started via a drop-down menu, similar to the Start menu in Windows 95 . With the VoiceType function , the operating system can be controlled via voice input. The operating system also contained a Java runtime and the associated Java Development Kit . OS / 2 Warp 4.0 implemented OpenGL for the first time and also contained Open32 , which should simplify the porting of 32-bit Windows applications to OS / 2. In contrast to the previous version, there were no different flavors of OS / 2 Warp 4.0; the operating system contained both the network functions and the Win-OS / 2 environment.
Companies in particular criticized this version of OS / 2. The new functions of this version of OS / 2 are mainly of interest to home users, for companies they only mean additional training costs. When OS / 2 Warp 4 was released, most companies were still using version 2.11, and some had just finished migrating to the predecessor OS / 2 Warp. At the same time, there were increasing signs that IBM would give up its commitment to OS / 2, even if the company promised to support the operating system for at least ten years. In November 1997, WorkSpace on-demand, an OS / 2-based thin client solution, appeared.
In May 1999, IBM released OS / 2 Warp Server for e-business . This version of OS / 2, which like the previous version supports symmetric multiprocessing with up to four processors, includes a new, more stable file system called the Journaled File System , support for the year 2000 and the euro sign. In terms of the network, the operating system offers porting of the Apache Web Server under the name Domino Go and WebSphere , an application server with support for JavaServer Pages . With a price of 1699 US dollars, this version of OS / 2 was considered to be very overpriced and at the very most interesting for existing OS / 2 users.
In 2000, IBM announced that it would release a convenience pack for both Warp 4 and Warp Server. This convenience pack included a bootable installation CD with all of the updates that have appeared so far. This should simplify the installation of OS / 2, especially on newer systems, which previously required the time-consuming installation of fix packs, device drivers and the latest software. The Convenience Pack was only available through a subscription from IBM. At the same time, the company Serenity Systems worked on a further development of OS / 2 Warp 4 under the name eComStation , the first version of which was available in 2001.
Finally, in 2005, IBM announced that it would end support for OS / 2 by the end of 2006. The company recommended that customers switch to Linux . The eComStation, developed under the leadership of Serenity Systems, is still supported today. Events for developers and users are still taking place, such as Warpstock 2014 in October 2014 in St. Louis (USA), and an Austrian company presented a port from OpenOffice to OS / 2 in January 2015 .
OS / 2 for PowerPC
In 1991, IBM planned a new project called Workplace OS . Based on the Mach kernel , the Workplace OS should be able to run multiple operating systems, such as OS / 2, AIX and Mac OS , on the basis of the PowerPC processor , and that on different devices such as desktop PCs or PDAs . But Apple dropped out of development and porting AIX to Workplace OS turned out to be impractical, as the operating system would fall behind the competing products SunOS and HP-UX due to lower performance . Although IBM continued to work on Workplace OS, the company discontinued the product in October 1995 after it became aware of serious shortcomings in the PowerPC 620 processor.
Instead, IBM began porting OS / 2 to the PowerPC processor independently of Workplace OS. In 1994 the company announced that it would complete OS / 2 for PowerPC by the end of the year. Like the x86 version of OS / 2, the PowerPC version would support DOS and Windows programs, but would not be compatible with old 16-bit OS / 2 applications. At the end of the year, IBM released a first preliminary version of the product. The release date had to be postponed several times, and it wasn't until two years later, in January 1996, that IBM offered OS / 2 for PowerPC, but only on request for customers who wanted to test the product before its release. The product was very incomplete; although it was officially called OS / 2 Warp Connect, PowerPC edition , there was no network functionality whatsoever. Just a month later, IBM decided to stop developing OS / 2 for PowerPC and not sell the product commercially.
Using the Operating System Today
In the meantime, OS / 2 is hardly used in the home sector because of the limited supply of current software, and its use is also declining at banks , insurance companies and airlines . New installations are mostly realized with the ArcaOS distribution. It is also still used in home and security technology. It also fills a niche in the manufacturing industry.
So far, OS / 2 and the eComStation (eCS) have been practically spared from dangers such as viruses , Trojan horses and worms . However, this is less due to the system architecture than more to the low market share.
Windows and OS / 2
In addition to programs specially developed for OS / 2, OS / 2 could also run MS-DOS programs in several virtual machines and, using WinOS / 2, Windows 3.1 programs. With Win32s, and especially the Odin project , it is possible to use some Win32 programs within the OS / 2 environment. About Virtual PC that was available prior to the acquisition of Connectix by Microsoft for OS / 2, or Bochs also complete Win32 environment can be launched.
The Open32 interface is available for the simple transfer from Windows to OS / 2 applications . There are also libraries and development tools that support porting Unix applications.
The operating system failed in the PC market and brought huge economic losses not only to IBM, but also to most of the companies that supported IBM and developed applications for OS / 2.
In the end, IBM lost its dominance in the PC market due to the failure of OS / 2, among other things, and had to cede this market, once established by the company, to the competition as far as possible.
The failure of OS / 2 1.x
Despite the great interest in the new operating system, OS / 2 turned out to be a failure at first.
A big mistake by IBM was the initially missing graphical user interface. Since the success of the Macintosh in 1984, interest in graphical user interfaces has grown rapidly; Command line-based operating systems were considered out of date. Even before that, IBM failed with TopView when attempting to establish a command line-based operating system on the market. The development of the graphical user interface of OS / 2 was delayed because IBM decided to implement the Systems Application Architecture in order to standardize the development of applications for the entire portfolio of IBM computers, from mainframes to PCs. The concept ultimately failed and the delays ensured that the graphical user interface could only be completed at a later point in time and that the operating system was initially only equipped with a command line-based interface. So the company repeated exactly the same mistake.
The name "OS / 2" turned out to be extremely unfavorable because many potential customers thought the operating system would only run on PS / 2 computers. In addition, IBM's pricing policy deterred potential customers. OS / 2 was far more expensive than DOS and Windows, so that few bought the operating system in stores. The price of the development kit of US $ 3,000 was too expensive for many smaller development companies and was out of proportion to comparable development kits for Windows or the Macintosh.
IBM had no influence on another factor: Exactly when OS / 2 was released, there was a delivery bottleneck for memory modules due to production difficulties, which caused the price of memory to increase fourfold. This price level was maintained for two years. This made upgrading a PC for OS / 2 an extremely expensive undertaking.
When it became clear that Windows would be a great success, there were some plans by IBM developers to stop Microsoft after all. One of these plans was to buy the GEOS graphical user interface from GeoWorks. GEOS was very resource-efficient and ran at an acceptable speed even on the original IBM PC. Another plan was to port the Presentation Manager to DOS and thus do without the OS / 2 substructure. However, the company decided to dismiss these plans and instead go on full confrontation with Microsoft, threatening to stop marketing and supporting Windows unless Microsoft surrendered its rights to Windows to IBM. Bill Gates chose not to act on the threat, and so IBM lost its last hold on Microsoft.
Development from OS / 2 2.0
With OS / 2 2.0, IBM tried alone to fight against the superiority of Microsoft and its Windows operating system. The operating system continued to suffer from a shortage of application programs as IBM made no effort to recruit or endorse developers. A decision made in this light was Win-OS / 2, with which Windows applications could also run on OS / 2. Although this gave OS / 2 an advantage in the short term, it reduced the incentive for developers to develop special OS / 2 applications in the long term, since Windows applications could also run on OS / 2 anyway.
One of the biggest problems was that IBM now had to try to market the operating system itself. As a typical large company, IBM marketed a large part of its products to other companies and thus knew how to survive in the B2B sector . However, IBM had no experience selling products to end users and it made a number of big mistakes. For years, IBM sponsored the Fiesta Bowl of American college football with most of the advertising costs estimated for OS / 2, without there being any discernible connection between college football fans and the operating system.
With OS / 2 Warp, IBM tried a new marketing campaign. The company had previously used terms from the Star Trek universe as code names, and so IBM wanted to officially publish the operating system with the help of actors from the series. However, the company forgot to secure the necessary rights from Paramount Pictures . Paramount threatened with a lawsuit and so IBM had to drop the planned advertising campaign. The company was able to continue to use the term “warp”, but only in one of its other meanings that cast a rather poor light on the product.
When IBM noticed that the first developers were developing games for the operating system and these were generating a great response, the company took the decision to promote Warp for teenage geeks. With this, however, IBM was in conflict with the previous customers of the operating system, most of whom were companies and made completely different demands on the operating system. In addition, there were the promotional videos, which were broadcast mainly in the USA and were heavily criticized from all sides, which did not show the strengths of the operating system at all, including a promotional video showing nuns in a Czech monastery. In particular, the technical support was not prepared for the onslaught of end customers, so that IBM had to spend large sums of money to solve trivial problems for end customers, despite the operating system's margin, which was low mainly due to license payments to Microsoft.
There was a high fluctuation within the development team at IBM, so that in the end there were only a few developers who were familiar with the source code of OS / 2, which was largely still written in assembly language. As a result, numerous errors in the operating system remained unsolved until the very end. The best known is a conceptual problem of the Presentation Manager, which only had a single synchronous input queue . As a result, a faulty program could block the entire graphical user interface and make the operating system unusable.
Finally, the failure of OS / 2 for PowerPC also contributed to the demise of the operating system. The success of the project depended on the PowerPC processors all along, and after they did not perform as expected and were barely better than comparable Intel processors, OS / 2 was doomed for PowerPC. The project tied up valuable resources that could have been better used to improve the x86 version , especially in view of Windows 95 , which is currently under development . A much more fatal consequence, however, was that IBM lost its trust in the OS / 2 development team and took more resources away from them because they were unable to complete OS / 2 for PowerPC on time.
But Microsoft also made attempts to prevent the spread of OS / 2. When the German computer dealers Vobis and Escom announced that they would preinstall OS / 2 on their PCs in the future and only offer Windows for an extra charge, Microsoft put massive pressure on the two computer dealers. Microsoft excluded Vobis from the Windows 95 beta program, only offered Windows licenses for the future at much worse conditions and tried to force Vobis to sign a confidentiality agreement. Likewise, Microsoft initially refused to license Windows 95 to IBM and demanded that the company discontinue OS / 2 immediately in order to obtain licenses for Windows 95. It was not until the day Windows 95 was released that IBM received the licenses from Microsoft.
The final blow hit OS / 2 when Lou Gerstner , the CEO of IBM, announced in an interview that OS / 2 was fighting its final battle and that it was too late for IBM. Many developers interpreted this to mean that IBM would give up the OS / 2 operating system. An IBM spokesperson later announced that he would install Windows 95 at home; he compared OS / 2 in this context with Sony's Betamax , which hit the public opinion of OS / 2 additionally. IBM did nothing to correct these statements, and many developers and customers turned their backs on OS / 2. At that moment, OS / 2 was considered a failure and IBM had no clear plan for OS / 2 Warp 4, so this version could barely gain market share.
- IBM BS / 2 1.0
- IBM BS / 2 1.1
- IBM OS / 2 1.2
- IBM OS / 2 1.3
- Standard version - November 1990
- Extended version - February 1991
- Microsoft (OEM)
- Microsoft OS / 2 1.0 - November 1987
- Microsoft OS / 2 1.1 - October 1988, with Presentation Manager
- Microsoft OS / 2 1.2 - November 1989, support for HPFS
- Microsoft OS / 2 1.3 - November 1990, basis for MS LAN Manager 2.1, already with HPFS386
- IBM OS / 2 2.0 Limited Edition - 1991 pre-release
- IBM OS / 2 2.0 - March 31, 1992, 32-bit, i386 -based
- IBM OS / 2 2.1 - May 1993
- IBM OS / 2 2.1 for Windows - December 1993, an OS / 2 2.1, 3.0 warp without Windows 3.1 emulation. The original Windows 3.1 / 3.11 installation was integrated. The same applies to OS / 2 Warp 3.0 for Windows.
- IBM OS / 2 2.11 - February 1994
- IBM OS / 2 Warp 3.0 - September 1994
- IBM OS / 2 Warp 3.0 for Windows - October 1994
- IBM OS / 2 2.11 SMP - December 1994, supports SMP up to 16 processors
- IBM OS / 2 Warp Connect 3.0 - 1995
- IBM OS / 2 Warp Server 4.0 Aurora - 1996, the basic system was OS / 2 Warp 3.0 Connect with the latest bug fixes and the latest version of the TCP / IP stack. There was a standard and an advanced version. The latter contained more network tools and the HPFS386 file system.
- IBM OS / 2 Warp 4 Merlin - September 1996, OpenGL support
- IBM WorkSpace on-Demand 1.0 - 1997
- IBM WorkSpace on-Demand 2.0 - 1999
- IBM OS / 2 Warp Server for e-Business (4.50) - 1999
- IBM OS / 2 Warp 4.51 Convenience Package 1 - December 2000
- IBM OS / 2 Warp 4.52 Convenience Package 2 - January 2002
- under license from XEU.com BV (formerly Serenity Systems and Mensys BV)
- eComStation 1.0 - 2001
- eComStation 1.1 - 2003
- eComStation 1.2 - 2004 (revision: eComStation 1.2R - 2006)
- eComStation 2.0 - 2010
- eComStation 2.1 - 2011
- under license from ArcaNoae
- ArcaOS 5.0 - 2017
- ArcaOS 5.01 - 2017
- ArcaOS 5.02 - 2018
- ArcaOS 5.03 - 2018
- ArcaOS 5.04 - 2019
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