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Reprinted from PC Magazine, October 10, 1995, pp. 89.

Illustration by Warren Gebert
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As PC Magazine’s token OS/2 booster, I think I qualify as someone who can objectively comment on the two operating systems – and why I’m sticking with OS/2 while I sit back and watch Windows 95 take over the market.

Don’t get me wrong: Microsoft Windows 95 is a wonderful operating system, but it has several annoying qualities. You should note that I am not a typical user, because I file all my writing electronically as pure ASCII text. Microsoft has never satisfied me with their cavalier attitude regarding ASCII.

Here are a few examples: When you do a file conversion from Microsoft Word for Windows to ASCII format in Word, you can end up losing text and getting weird non-ASCII complications. It’s as though the company hates ASCII, or nobody there ever makes these conversions. Here’s another thing: I create a lot of files with names such as PC17 or PC17.95 (the name of this column). I don’t think I should be queried by Windows 95 when I double-click on the PC17 icon as to what program should be used to open it. It’s obviously a plain ASCII file, and WinPad should automatically open it. In OS/2, the enhanced Editor opens these files automatically.

Overall, OS/2 seems smarter to me. I will say this, though: Windows 95 is a heck of a lot smarter than Windows 3.1 in every way. The key to the success of all versions of Windows over OS/2 was simply Microsoft going the extra inch to support the users, the developers, and the press.

I’m no booster of Microsoft, and Bill Gates has at times complained about my attitude. Still, I got the Gold Windows 95 CD as soon as it shipped in the middle of July. The company has never cut me off, despite my known support for OS/2.

As an aside, here’s another key to Microsoft’s strategy: Bill Gates puts every employee in an office with a door and becomes the richest man in the world. Coincidence? IBM is a cubicle company. Have you ever visited anyone in a cubicle office? You can’t express yourself freely, out of concern that everyone is listening. Get a clue, Corporate America!

Back to the point: OS/2 has superior characteristics and better multitasking than Windows 95, although Windows 95 isn’t as bad as OS/2’s loudest adherents would want you to believe. And I’m disappointed in the quirks I’ve run into since installing OS/2 Warp Connect. For one thing, it crashes more than it should, and keyboard lockups are common when you frequently change from full screen to window to full screen. Windows 95 actually seems to crash less. I will say, though, that when Windows 95 does crash, it’s a horrible mess.

Anyway, the key to success is applications, and OS/2 has few. Developers seeking a pot of gold will write programs for Windows 95. Microsoft does something IBM doesn’t grasp: It promises riches to everyone. Developers will get rich. Employees will get rich. Shareholders will get rich. And guess what? They do. There are a reported 3,000-plus millionaires working at Microsoft – plus three billionaires. Who gets rich at IBM? Nobody except the top boss. And who gets rich doing third-party development for IBM?

Then there are the overt foul-ups IBM makes. An IBMer tries to install OS/2 on a newspaper columnist’s machine and can’t manage it, and then claims he personally plans to use Windows 95. Then Louis Gerstner lets it slip that he will dump OS/2 if it doesn’t perk up. Before that he asked his executives to call their friends and persuade them to develop for OS/2. This assumed that any of his executives know anyone in the development community in the first place. Hint: They don’t.

There are a few of us power users who will stick with OS/2. Without a doubt, changing from OS/2 to Windows 95 isn’t that hard, but it’s a baby step backward. So, for now, I’m sticking with OS/2 Warp.

John C. Dvorak

Page added on 12th December 2004.

Copyright © 2002-2006 Marcin Wichary, unless stated otherwise.