Microsoft Trial Reveals OS/2 Squeeze

By: Walter Metcalf
Date: 11/25/98

One set of facts emerging from the current Microsoft trial sheds additional light on why OS/2 failed to grab a substantial portion of the market. According to John Soyring, director of network computing services for IBM, Microsoft did their best to make sure there were few applications for OS/2, which is one of the prime reasons OS/2 failed to compete.

Here are some highlights:

  • IBM Exec Recounts OS/2 Wars
    '"Microsoft agreements have made it difficult for application developers to port or adapt applications developed for Windows to OS/2, said Soyring. He said Microsoft has agreements in which it licenses application development tools to independent software vendors that restrict the use of the tools for Windows development. Microsoft has also set restrictions on the use of some code for OS/2, said Soyring. "These circumstances have resulted in OS/2 being caught in a vicious cycle," said Soyring. The limited number of OS/2 applications has limited demand for the operating system and, as a result, relatively few PCs are shipped with it, he testified.' The Industry Standard, Nov. 17, 1998.

  • People not using Windows because it is better.
    Soyring said that people are using Windows because there are few shrink-wrapped applications for OS/2. From The Industry Standard, Nov. 17, 1998

  • Microsoft Feared Java and Tried to Pollute it.
    'According to another Microsoft email message, the overall strategy, which at times sparked internal division among Microsoft executives, included letting the "Java [developer tools] space fragment so that 'write once, run anywhere' does not happen," referring to Sun's slogan for Java. While cross-platform Java products faltered, Microsoft hoped to drive its Windows-dependent Java products "to a broad installed base."' From C|Net News., "Microsoft's holy war on Java", Sept. 23, 1998.

  • Microsoft Used Anticompetitive Strategies To Prevent Porting.
    MS anticompetitive restrictions on ISV meant in order to port an application, they had to rewrite it from scratch. From C|Net News.

  • Few OS/2 Software Developers: Soyring
    Soyring said OS/2 was technically superior to Windows but was "caught in a vicious cycle'' because few software developers wrote programs for it. That, in turn, limited consumer interest. The Washington Post, Nov. 18, 1998

For further reading:

Microsoft Trial in Court and Media, The Washington Post, Nov. 17, 1998.

Microsoft Trial Archive, The Washington Post

Judge Rules in Favor of Sun, Microsoft Watch

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