What Can You Do To Support OS/2

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by Colin Hildinger

What's all this about?

This is a short list of ways you personally can support OS/2. It has become apparent in recent months that IBM will continue developing OS/2 for some time (at least another 10 years), as they have large customers which depend on OS/2 solutions. What does not seem to be apparent is the future of OS/2 support from IBM for us, the consumers. Will IBM ever run another OS/2 advertisement aimed at the consumer market? Will OS/2 Warp v5 be available in your local computer software stores when it is released in early 1998? IBM has not given us a commitment on issues such as these. For this reason, it is up to US, OS/2 users, to insure that our platform of choice continues to grow and succeed.

For years, OS/2 users have been responsible for almost all growth in the OS/2 market. As the userbase grew, we users have become less organized. Once upon a time, Team OS/2 was responsible for large amounts of effort that went on at major trade shows such as COMDEX. The "Pink Ninjas," as they were called, were everywhere, helping hardware vendors demonstrate their hardware's OS/2 capabilities by helping them get OS/2 systems up and running on the trade show floors. Unfortunately Team OS/2 fell into disarray. The membership was always loose at best, and the lack of organization finally caught up with it. It's no longer the force it once was.

Fortunately, OS/2 is actually doing better now than ever. "Really?" you say. Sure. There is more OS/2 software and hardware support right now than there has ever been. It is up to OS/2 users to make sure that things continue to improve.

But what can I do?

There are TONS of things that you can do to support OS/2. I will divide this up into 3 categories:

  • Things you can do monetarily.
  • Things you can do with your time.
  • Things that don't take much money or time to do.

The first category: Things you can do monetarily

====Buy OS/2 software This is probably the most important thing you can do. There is almost no category of software which doesn't have an OS/2 solution. If you're using OS/2 to run DOS and Windows programs, consider investing in native OS/2 programs. For example, many people run Word or WordPerfect in Win-OS/2 sessions as their word processor. There are a variety of native OS/2 solutions which provide more features than the Windows 3.1 versions of these programs.

Give OS/2 and OS/2 software as a gift

If you're looking for a gift for a computer-owning friend, consider the gift of OS/2, Boot Manager, and an OS/2 software package. I gave a copy of Galactic Civilizations II to my nephew last Christmas and he thoroughly enjoys it. Remember, OS/2 alone contains all most people need a computer for, in the form of IBM Works.

Support OS/2 organizations/publications

Become a member of VOICE and Team OS/2. Join your local OS/2 Users Group. Support OS/2 publications like OS/2 e-Zine!. Support OS/2 archives and web pages like Hobbes and the OS/2 Supersite. A few hundred people spending $50 a year each would insure that these organizations are able to continue their work. They all like to provide services to OS/2 users, but remember, web hosting, mailing lists, and time all cost money. Even though most time in these organizations is volunteer or near volunteer, wouldn't you like to see that change? How much more could these people do if they were able to justify devoting more time to their efforts?

Help advertise

That's right, just because IBM won't target the consumer market, it doesn't mean we can't. An example of how you could help advertise OS/2 is Timur Tabi's excellent web page designed to convince people to switch to OS/2. His page advertises using the Internet Link Exchange, which means that it displays banner ads for other web pages to earn the opportunity to advertise his web page. His current ad is targeted at convincing Windows 3.1 users to switch to OS/2. "OK," you ask, "That's neat and all, but how could I possibly help?" Well, ILE also lets you purchase credits which allow you to get shows on other web pages. Called the Friends Program, for $50 you get 4000 "shows." Currently about 1 in 100 shows is resulting in someone taking a look at Timur's page. That means in 4000 shows about 40 people take the time to see that OS/2 is better than Windows.

I am thinking of starting a user-based advertising campaign, which may prove to be much more effective. I have some ideas, so we'll see what we can do...

The second category: Things you can do with your time

Help out one of the many OS/2 web pages

Let's face it, there are plenty of OS/2 web pages, but not always enough time to keep them all up to date. If there's a certain web page or resource that you think is useful, and you think you might be able to add to it or lend a hand to keep it running, offer your services to its maintainer(s). You'll be helping scads of OS/2 users all at once.

Help your local OS/2 users group promote OS/2

If your UG doesn't already have an outreach program, maybe you can help start one. Make up flyers before your next meeting and pass them out outside the local CompUSA or Computer City. Think about planning an OS/2 presentation at a local computer show.

Help other OS/2 users

Spend a little time helping other OS/2 users solve their problems in the comp.os.os2.* Usenet news groups. You might just learn some things yourself. The more knowledge we as OS/2 users have about our operating system, the easier it is for us to tell other people good things about it. (At the same time, the more we'll be able to see where OS/2 could use improvement, thereby allowing us to do something about it)

The third category: Things that don't take much money or time to do

Run the RC5 client for Team Warped

Every person who runs RC5 for OS/2 increases the chance of an OS/2 machine being the one that breaks RC5's encryption somewhere down the road. If an OS/2 user breaks the code, it means more publicity for OS/2, which might encourage people to want to know more about the OS and what it can do for them.

Try to mention OS/2 in a positive light around your Windows-using friends

You know, say things like, "In OS/2 you can just... and it does what you're trying to do." Or maybe, "That never seems to happen in OS/2, must be a Windows thing..." Eventually they'll either switch or admit that they should but they just don't feel like it.

This list is by no means all of the ways to support OS/2, but it's a start. If you have other good ideas about how OS/2 users can help their operating system thrive, let us know!