1998 in Review

By: Walter Metcalf
Date: 12/30/98

1998 has been quite a year! Politically, there has been the U.S. President Clinton scandal, and the U.N missile attacks on Iraq. On the environmental front, there were the terrible storms and hurricanes in the West Indies, Mexico, and the U.S. as well the ice storms and unusually warm summers in Canada.

1998 was no less an extraordinary year for OS/2. As the year opened, OS/2 was part of the new Network Software Division which had absorbed the old Personal System Products division (PSP) that had given birth to OS/2, but now didn't seem to know what to do with this magnificent piece of technology.
Here are the major OS/2 events during the past year.

  1. In January, Donn Atkins took over as IBM General Manager for OS/2 and WorkSpace On-Demand products. (As is usual with IBM, Mr. Atkins assured us nothing would really change.)

  2. In February:

    • Mr. Atkins was replaced by Richard Seibt. (Managing OS/2 was getting to be risky business.) Mr. Seibt had been PSP business leader in Germany and Vice-President of Sales and Marketing in IBM North America.

    • Mr. Seibt made it clear in an interview that IBM would continue to develop software (including OS/2) solely for the medium and large scale business. Enterprise became a sort of codename for this target group.

  3. In March, Lotus SmartSuite for OS/2 Warp was released. SmartSuite for OS/2 Warp contains the following 5 applications, all written in native OS/2:

    • Word Pro
    • 1-2-3
    • Approach
    • Organizer
    • Freelance Graphics

  4. In April:

    • Yet another reorganization took place within IBM. Several groups involved with Java and network-related activities, including the Network Software Division, were merged to form the Network Computing Software Services.

    • IBM and Sun signed an agreement to create a Java operating system to be called JavaOS for Business. The Wall Street Journal called this partnership a "a rare example of cooperation for the competing computer makers".

    • Netscape began giving away the source code for Netscape Communicator 5.0. This was done to counter Microsoft's decision to give away the executable version of Internet Explorer.

    • A group headed by Bill Law began the Warpzilla project whose goal was to port the now freely available Netscape Communicator code to OS/2.

    • Fortify for Netscape on OS/2 was released to provide strong (128-bit) encryption for Netscape Navigator throughout the world.

    • IBM finalized plans to release Communicator for OS/2 Warp in 4Q98.

  5. In May:

    • IBM announced new releases of both OS/2 Warp Server and WorkPlace on Demand. The former, codenamed Aurora, became one of the hottest topics in OS/2 circles.

    • U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and 20 states sued Microsoft for antitrust activities in the matter of Internet browsers.

    • On a personal note, my first feature went online as I became your Guide.

  6. In June:

    • Richard B. Seibt left IBM, reportedly because IBM was pressuring him not to be so aggressive with OS/2. (Managing OS/2 has now become downright dangerous.) His position was taken over by Patricia Sueltz, formerly head of the Java unit.

    • Ralph Nader urged Lou Gerstner to give away OS/2 to help break Microsoft stranglehold.

  7. In September a movement began, spearheaded by Martin Alfredsson, to pressure IBM to release a client version of OS/2, originally to be called Warp 5. The plan was to collect enough pre-orders that IBM would see how much money they were losing by NOT releasing a new OS/2 client.

  8. In October:

    • Second annual Warpstock conference, a community event conceived to benefit OS/2 users, developers and other technical support people took place from October 17 - 18, 1998.

    • DOJ and 20 states vs. Microsoft trial began.

    • WorkSpace On-Demand 2.0 released.

    • OS/2 Server for e-Business (formerly Aurora) entered large-scale beta testing.

    • Netscape Communicator for OS/2 4.04 released in both standard (40-bit) and strong (128-bit) encryption versions.

    • Indelible Blue posts a poll indicating that an IBM group in Austin would like to know how many people would be willing to purchase an "Aurora Client Pak" and how much they would be willing to pay for it.

    • Mensys begins collecting "pre-orders" for Warp 5 (i.e. a new client version of Warp) at US $100 each.

  9. In November:

    • America Online announced it would acquire Netscape Communications, Inc.

    • Sun and AOL formed strategic alliance to write the next generation of AOL software in Java. This deal combined with the Netscape deal said to threaten Microsoft.

    • StarDivision released StarOffice 5.0 free for individual, non-commercial use.

  10. In December:

As you can see, a great deal happened to alter the OS/2 landscape during the past year. I believe 1999 promises to be equally exciting. Stay tuned to this site for events as they happen.

Happy New Year!

Unless otherwise noted, all content on this site is Copyright © 2004, VOICE