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IBM and Microsoft Set Future DOS And OS/2 Directions

by Lloyd Borrett
Technical Cornucopia, February 1990

At COMDEX in Las Vegas in November 1989, IBM and Microsoft broadened the scope of their development partnership and agreed to develop jointly a consistent, full range of systems software offerings for the 1990s. These software offerings will include enhancements to DOS, OS/2 and Local Area Network products.

Platform for the '90s

Together, IBM and Microsoft described the "platform for the '90s" as hardware systems with Intel 386 or i486 microprocessors, 4 MBytes of memory and 60 Mbyte fixed disk drives with OS/2 and the Presentation Manager graphical user interface.

To reaffirm this, IBM and Microsoft indicated the majority of their application and systems development resources will be applied to OS/2 solutions. Beginning in the second half of 1990, IBM and Microsoft plan to make their graphical applications available first on OS/2.

Specifically, the companies jointly announced:

  • Their intent to deliver a version of OS/2 that exploits the advanced capabilities of the Intel 386 and i486 in 1990. This version will have advanced features such as demand paging and the ability to run multiple DOS applications concurrently. It also will allow applications to exploit the 32-bit flat memory model. Today's emerging Presentation Manager applications will run unmodified on the new version of OS/2.
  • Availability of early development support for this new OS/2 version by year-end 1989 with a common development toolkit. Software developers starting new high performance or server applications targeted towards 386SX based systems with 4 MBytes or larger systems should build directly on the advanced APIs of this forthcoming 32-bit version of OS/2.

IBM and Microsoft suggested that the current OS/2 1.2 is recommended for systems with at least 3 MBytes of memory and 30 MByte fixed disk drives.

IBM and Microsoft committed to continue to expand the range of OS/2 capable systems. As a first step, the companies announced that the over 512 KBytes of memory used by the OS/2 "DOS Compatibility Box" also will be usable by OS/2 applications when the DOS program is inactive. This capability will be available this year.

Both IBM and Microsoft are making a concerted effort to enable OS/2 for 2 MByte entry systems. It was suggested that users should plan to use Microsoft Windows to implement graphical applications on platforms with less than 2 MByte of memory.

On systems with 4 MBytes of memory, IBM and Microsoft suggested users can take full advantage of advanced system features such as the new High Performance File System, expanded LAN client features and advanced applications. OS/2 is currently best suited for users running or building database applications, needing full multi-application and background processing support or using distributed processing solutions requiring full LAN client support.

OS/2 is also recommended for all server applications. The new 32-bit version of OS/2 will be further enhanced for server requirements. In addition, certain advanced operating system features such as security, full object-oriented capabilities and symmetrical multi-processing, will be available only in future releases of 32-bit OS/2.

DOS and Windows platform

DOS and Windows are recommended for systems with 1-2 MBytes of memory or fixed disk drives smaller that 30 MBytes. For these users, Windows is an easy installation upgrade to DOS; allows the user to run existing DOS or Windows applications; enables limited multi-application support; and provides function for a basic LAN client and, as such, is an excellent entry graphical workstation. While Windows will provide the Systems Application Architecture (SAA) user interface, it is not planned to include the full range of SAA support that OS/2 will provide.

Microsoft stated that Windows is not intended to be used as a server, nor will future releases contain advanced OS/2 features such as distributed processing, the 32-bit flat memory model, threads, or long file names. OS/2 is the recommended operating system environment for new or existing 286/386 systems with 3 MBytes or more of memory.

IBM and Microsoft believe users with OS/2 capable systems and software developers with Windows applications will want to migrate to OS/2. IBM and Microsoft intend to provide support through tools, seminars and technical assistance to help with that migration.

In addition to the announcements focused on the desktop environments, IBM and Microsoft also announced:

  • The two companies will work together to make the Database Manager, Communications Manager and LAN Requester and Server functions of IBM's OS/2 Extended Edition available to all OS/2 users. These functions of OS/2 Extended Edition continue to be primary participants in the IBM SAA strategy.
  • For local area networks, the two companies intend to converge IBM's OS/2 LAN Server and Microsoft's LAN Manager to be identical over time. These LAN products will be designed to run on the base OS/2 operating system in both client and server configurations, like LAN Manager does today, and will exploit Intel 386 and i486 functions.

In summary, IBM and Microsoft have reaffirmed their commitment to provide a graphical user interface on all platforms and significantly extending the functions of OS/2 to provide a consistent systems software base for the hardware platforms of the '90s. They have given us all clear indications of what they believe will be the hardware platform of the '90s.

Last modified: Saturday, 15 October 2011


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