OS/2 Issues Update

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Following is a list of current issues surrounding OS/2 in the market today, and attached below are comments about those issues.

  1. OS/2 Quality
  2. OEM
  3. Performance
  4. 1992 Product Plans
  5. Response to MS Win 3.1 vs OS/2 Document
  6. Preload



To produce the best possible quality product, a new development process was instituted for OS/2 2.0. This new process included small, empowered development teams and an unprecedented beta test program involving 30,000 users.

Our objective was a 5 times quality improvement over our previous best version, OS/2 1.3 We're proud to say that we have met those objectives.


OS/2 2.0 consists of about 3.5 million lines of code. Since we began shipping, fewer than 10% of our users have called the OS/2 Support Line. More than 75% of these calls are usage, installation, and setup questions. Only about 7% have turned out to be related to substantive product problems. We have identified approximately 50 issues that are causing these calls. (Not all are bugs. Some are for specific device support that we did not intend to include until later releases, but we're now working due to customer interest.)

Of these, 5 are significant impact problems -- such as failure to install on a certain configuration or intermittent traps on certain systems. These are associated with specific configurations that affect a small percentage of our users. Two of these five have been fixed, and there are temporary workarounds for the other three.

About 20 can cause a major function to be impacted, but the system continues to work, albeit with an inconvenient workaround.

The remaining 25 or so are inconveniences which affect enough customers that we have made them a priority. An example is failing to recognize that a window has been closed prior to Shutdown. Upon reboot, the window is open and the user would have to click the mouse button twice to close it again.


We are continuing to work these problems in priority sequence and have posted a number of fixes on COMPUSERVE, OS/2 BBS, and Internet. Users who have a problem not yet fixed can call the OS/2 Support Line to get registered for future fixes. We will notify them when it is available.

In the fall there will be a Performance and Service Pack which will include all available fixes plus some performance enhancements. The Pack will be available either electronically or on diskettes for a nominal charge (materials and handling).



  • Can't install MFM/RLL (older family 1) disk drives
  • If the swapper file expands to a partition boundary, it won't shrink again until system reboot
  • Some Western Digital chip sets can hang during system install
  • Some Tseng chip sets in SVGA mode experience display corruption going to and from a full screen Virtual DOS Machine
  • Intermittent trap in the Win OS/2 session after exiting WIN-OS/2 on 4MB systems.


Now available on the bulletin boards: a new version of the OS/2 Tips and Techniques document. It includes answers to the most commonly asked questions on the support line.


The great majority (maybe as much as 80%) are from home users. This percentage is no doubt skewed by the fact that home users don't have IBM SEs or corporate help desks. However, we view this as a positive indication of OS/2's acceptance in a market segment not commonly associated with OS/2.


In addition to the 50 substantive issues previousely mentioned, there are a number of other items reported on the Support Line that we have logged for consideration for future OS/2 releases. These items, which account for the remaining 18% of the Support Line calls, fall into two categories.

The first category consists of relatively innocuous bugs that have an easy workaround. For example, icons in the Minimized Window Viewer are not lined up. (The user can always handle this by selecting Arrange from the popoup menu.) The second category items are not bugs at all, but are product suggestions or requirements -- for example, an alternate method of performing a function.

There are also some reported problems that we have decided not include as priority items for fixing. These involve very unique configurations, often of multiple devices of uncommon brands doing strange things like daisy-chaining a tape drive onto a diskette controller.


We are committed to ensuring OS/2's widest possible acceptance in the industry, across all computer manufacturers. To that end, we have been testing OEM machines to verify compatibility with OS/2. To date, more than 222 OEM machines have passed compatibility testing on OS/2.

In addition, we are aggressively pursuing a program to sign contract with OEM vendors to preload and/or resell OS/2 with their equipment. Larry Rojas, the director of OEM business development in Boca Raton, has a group of field marketing reps calling on OEMs for the purpose of gaining these commitments. To date, they have signed contracts with Scandic Products in Sweden and Reply in the U.S. Negotiations are in progress with Olivetti, Dell, Compaq, ICL, AST, NEC, CompuAdd, and Northgate.


The Microsoft advertisement on Windows 3.1 vs OS/2 performance is misleading. The scenarios in the ad are a narrow subset of the kinds of work that a user might perform. It is true that when running Windows applications one at a time with nothing else on the system, OS/2 will run about 20 to 25% slower.

However, DOS apps run faster on OS/2.

And when more than one task is being done, OS/2's performance advantage becomes evident. Because of OS/2's superior multitasking, it can run background tasks -- such as file copying, communications, or spreadsheet recalculation -- with no visible impact on foreground work. With Windows, the cursor movement can lag behind the mouse movement, and displaying of characters can lag behind keyboarding to the point where system becomes almost unusable until the background job is done.

An illustrative scenario from National Software Testing Laboratories (NSTL): To load MS Word for Windows on a Mod 57 with nothing else running takes 7.2 seconds with Windows 3.1 and 9.3 seconds with OS/2 2.0. If you do the same load with an XCOPY in the background, Windows load time jumps to 41.1 seconds, compared with 15.3 seconds for OS/2.

In addition, we're continually working to improve performance. In the fall, we're planning to improve performance for all systems, but especially those with the minimum configuration of 4MB RAM.



  • An objective performance tester would question the methodology.
  • The results published are for very small subtasks
  • The test scenarios appear to be Microsoft's own, not that of an objective third party. They say the scenarios are "like PC World's", but what does that mean?
  • They have not identified the vendor performing the test
  • They did not indicate the specific configuration. This makes it difficult for another party to replicate and validate the tests.


As applications become available that take advantage of OS/2's capabilities, e.g. multithreading and 32 bit, OS/2 performance can be expected to get even better.

1992 OS/2 Product Plans

There will be a lot happening in the OS/2 product line through the remainder of 1992.


In the fall: 32-bit graphics engine; Windows 3.1; device drivers to support XGA, SVGA, and 8514 displays in seamless mode.


We're continually working to improve performance. In the fall,we're planning to improve performance for all systems, but especially those with the minimum configuration of 4MB RAM.


In the fall, OS/2 will be available in a package containing 2 diskettes and a CD.


Available in June, the Multimedia Presentation Manager/2 extensions and a toolkit. IBM OS/2 Pen Extensions and a toolkit are planned for availability in late '92 or early '93.


OS/2 is already the Integrating Platform on the desktop. These new announcements will build upon OS/2's networking capability to extend that integration to another dimension - the Integrated Enterprise Network.


Device Adaptation Kits to aid in the development of device drivers for SCSI devices (June), displays (in the fall), and printers (fall). A Developers Migration Kit for migrating Windows 3.0 applications to OS/2 will be available this summer.


We'll package up the available fixes to known OS/2 problems together with the performance improvements and make them available in the fall in a Performance and Service Pack.


In the fall, we plan to offer a package of approximately 200 productivity applications, tools, utilities, games, and bitmaps.



Available to installed customers for a nominal fee (media and handling). Free (except for connect time) via electronic download.


The focus will be on improving performance in those tasks and functions in which the user interacts with the screen (as opposed to background processing).


Expect to see us continue to make use of CD packaging in the future. The added capacity of the CD makes it easy to bundle other programs with OS/2, allowing us to get creative in promotions with application software vendors, as well as in bundling our own offerings.


MMPM/2 adds audio and limited image capabilities to the OS/2 2.0 32-bit base. It exploits the features required to make multimedia effective that OS/2 delivers. This includes multitasking and the flat memory model - required for handling data objects many megabytes in size.

The MMPM/2 architecture enables new functions, devices, and multimedia data types and formats to be added as technology advances.


The IBM OS/2 Pen Extensions provides OS/2 2.0 support with special features for pen-based personal systems. The software allows the user to annotate images online, use gesture commands to invoke fastpath operations, soft keyboards for quick updates to spreadsheets and notes, as well as use of freehand drawing, handwriting/ink capture, and character recognition for limited data entry. Included are utilities for a pop-up keyboard which allows customization of the soft keyboard.


Coming this fall are a new release of LAN Server, enhancements to Communications Manager, a Developers Toolkit for Distributed System Services, Lotus Notes, and LAN Enabler 2.1. The CID (Configuration/Installation/Distribution) product will greatly enhance the ease of installation of OS/2 and other products across networks, by offering automated and unattended configuring, distribution and installation.


This kit will make it possible to port applications and drivers with little or no code changes. The developer can generate applications and drivers for Windows 3.0 and OS/2 2.0 from a single source. The kit includes * Conversion utilities for resource files, definition files, icons, cursors. Bitmaps and help files.

  • MIRRORS.DLL (debug)
  • Headers, libraries, samples
  • Documentation


Available to installed customers for a nominal fee (media and handling). Free (except for connect time) via electronic download.


We're currently in the process of selecting these applets from the many submitted by software vendors and IBMers, so we can't mention any specifics, but stay tuned to this space. We'll probably offer a CD version of this also.

Response to MS Win 3.1 vs OS/2 Document

There is so much misleading information in this document that it is hard to know where to start. Following are some brief responses to individual items.


  • Microsoft claims that Windows 3.1 eliminates UAEs (Unrecoverable Application Errors). It doesn't eliminate them, it renames them to GPFs (General Protection Faults). When a GPF occurs it still recommends that you reboot your system.
  • Win 3.1 still does not make use full use of the 386 hardware protection as OS/2 does.


  • MS's tables are apples to oranges comparisons
  • The tables quote system requirements for the most basic, limited-function mode of Windows' three modes. Then, when functions are compared, MS quotes the function of the mode with the largest system requirements.


  • MS quotes Infocorp as a source. Infocorp says they do not recognize the number attributed to them.
  • Infocorp says 28% of the install base is OS/2-capable
  • The majority of machines shipped today are OS/2-capable

This percentage will grow very rapidly in the next few years.

  • Microsoft's numbers for Windows-capable machines include 286s, which don't support the full Windows capability


  • MS says the OS/2 Workplace Shell requires a learning curve.
  • This depends on where you're coming from. MAC users are usually instantly productive, new users likewise learn quickly.
  • Much as DOS users had a short learning period to move to the next generation interface -- Windows, Windows users will have a short (a few hours) learning period to become familiar with the next generation object-oriented Workplace Shell.
  • Windows users who have become familiar with the WPS find the old Windows GUI to be primitive by comparison.
  • Users can always choose to have it the old Windows way and operate with menus instead of objects. They can even choose an option which gives the screen the look and feel of Windows.


  • MS says OS/2 has limited host connectivity. Unsaid is the fact that they're talking about the OS/2 base product only.
  • The connectivity is delivered in OS/2 Communications manager, the most comprehensive host connectivity tool available
  • All the DOS/Windows asynch emulation packages work on OS/2 as well


  • No company has more experience and capability in networking than IBM.
  • OS/2 is the industry's best desktop client for connecting to complex enterprise networks.


  • MS shows tables comparing the number of OS/2 graphical apps with Windows graphical apps
  • Since OS/2 runs DOS, Windows and OS/2 graphical apps, OS/2 will always have the most applications


  • MS makes a point of the difficulty of installing DOS apps on OS/2
    • configuring settings, etc.
  • Very misleading. We ship a default setting that will run most DOS apps just fine.
  • OS/2's settings capability gives you flexibility if you want it
  • In our opinion, OS/2's DOS settings dialog is easier to use than Windows' PIF editor.


  • MS tries to turn a virtue into a vice by decrying the fact that OS/2 offers the user choices in interfaces: command lines, menus, or object-oriented.
  • We believe in letting the user have it their way.

WIN 3.1 ON OS/2

  • MS says OS/2 runs a modified version of 3.0. One of the key modifications IBM made is the kind of parameter validation MS touts as a reliability improvementin 3.1.
  • Win 3.1 on OS/2 will be available in the fall.


  • It takes longer to install OS/2's 20 diskettes than Windows' 6. True. That's because you get so more with OS/2:
  • Three operating environments
  • The Workplace shell
  • Pre-emptive multitasking, Adobe Type Manager, etc.
  • In the fall, OS/2 will be available on 2 diskettes and a CD-ROM
  • In the fall, automatic, unattended installation over a network will be enabled with the CID product


  • OS/2 has a full complement of development tools.
  • Many of the leading edge tools originated on OS/2
  • OS/2 is the preferred development environment -- even for Microsoft.


  • Pen Windows appls don't exist. NT doesn't exist. Their scalability is not proven.
  • The Microsoft portability guide clearly indicates problems running DOS/ Windows apps directly on NT.


  • OS/2 print drivers support 205 printers, which address the vast majority. More are coming later this year.
  • SCSI drivers are coming in June
  • More display drivers are coming in the fall.


  • Windows uses the proprietary TrueType fonts
  • OS/2 includes Adobe Type Manager, the universally accepted industry standard.


  • OS/2 2.0 at no additional charge
  • IBM Mouse at no additional charge
  • System is ready to use right out of the box

No installation required

  • The preload version of OS/2 has some additional features:
  • Additional pre-installed information aids to help users get productive quickly
    • Welcome and Quick Tour
    • "For the DOS User" tutorial
    • Application install tutorial
    • Hardware system overview for hardware
    • Service and support information
  • Additional useful utilities
    • Uninstall utility for easy pruning of unrequired features
    • Bootable diskette and System Backup Utilities to easily allow you to backup and protect your system.
  • Additional Workplace Shell folders to better organize the additional features on your desktop
    • Welcome and Quick Tour Folder
    • Additional Tutorials Folder
    • Features Folder
    • Service and Support Folder
    • About Your System Folder
    • Applications Folder
    • Configurations Tools Folder