Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
about IBM OS/2 Warp

Q. What is OS/2 Warp, and how is it different from Windows?

A. OS/2 is a 32-bit, multitasking operating system for IBM-compatible PCs. It differs from Windows in the following ways:

* Most versions of Windows are based on 16-bit DOS. The DOS system is fine by itself, but it is too weak to carry the load of GUIs, 32-bit applications, and advanced graphical programs like Web browsers.

* Windows is inherently less stable than OS/2, both because of the weak 16-bit DOS base of Windows, as well as the poorly managed internal structure of Windows (including Windows NT). These flaws include the Registry, the lack of version management for .DLL files, and the memory leaks possessed by most Windows development tools.

* OS/2 is fully multithreaded, meaning that a single program can perform several independent functions simultaneously. Multithreading under Windows systems either does not work at all, or else makes the system very unstable beyond just a few threads.

* The OS/2 GUI, Workplace Shell, is a true object-oriented interface, meaning that the screen elements are consistent and fully take advantage of system capabilities. The Windows interfaces are not object-oriented in the strictest sense, because they fail to adequately track the files to which they are pointing, as well as other inconsistencies.
Q. If OS/2 is so superior, why do most people use Windows?

A. Quite simply, market manipulation. Microsoft has been very adept at signing up computer companies to preload its products. Something like 90% of all operating system sales are via preload, instead of customer choice. Therefore, the PC user usually has the decision made for him or her by somebody else -- a computer company's marketing manager. Most computer companies have simply found Microsoft easier to deal with than IBM -- at first. By the time IBM learned to play the game, Microsoft had a monopoly and would go to whatever lengths necessary to protect that monopoly.

Q. Then how can I get a PC with OS/2 preloaded?

A. First of all, hundreds of small-business consultants (such as the owner of this Website) specialize in loading OS/2 for other people, either as a hobby or as a business venture. Some companies have specialized in satisfying this market demand, including the following:
Indelible Blue
Lueck Data Systems
Simply Intelligent
Some of the major PC makers will preload OS/2 by special request, if you need a brand-name machine.

Q. Why doesn't IBM market OS/2 more strongly?

A. Quite simply, they did. By the spring of 1995, OS/2 had attracted a great deal of market attention, and for one month was actually at the top of the retail sales charts. At this point, the effort of overcoming the overtly anti-IBM bias of certain key elements of the media, as well as the Microsoft preload monopoly, was too costly. With Microsoft poised to spend a quarter-billion dollars on marketing Windows95, IBM decided that it would get a far better return on its investment by targeting OS/2 and other key IBM technologies at the big-business sector instead of the consumer PC market. And IBM has prospered in this effort.

Q. Why do some people say OS/2 is dead?

A. No, that is a gross misconception. IBM has committed to the long-term health and growth of OS/2, but they prefer to sell it to large corporations instead of to the consumer directly. That market is where user groups and advocacy groups are focusing their attention. A growing list of major corporations who use OS/2 can be found at the Large OS/2 Client website.

Q. Well, some people claim there are no OS/2 applications. Is that true?

A. No, that is another misconception. There are thousands of native OS/2 applications. OS/2 also runs tens of thousands of DOS, Windows, and Java applications -- nearly 100,000 applications in all. Many innovative small companies are developing new native OS/2 applications as well. A growing list of native OS/2 applications can be found at the website called The OS/2 Alternative.

Q. Where can I get these native OS/2 applications?

A. Thousands of them are available on the Internet, many of them either FREE or as shareware. Or you can order from several retail outlets or direct from the software development companies themselves. Check our page on OS/2 Software Developers and Vendors for more details.

Q. Can OS/2 run Windows95/NT applications?

A. Not yet. The Win32OS2 Project will soon allow direct conversion of many such applications into native OS/2 programs.


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Most recent revision: May 31, 1998
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