Changes and Shake-ups

By now, everyone in the OS/2 community has heard that OS/2 Magazine, long running Miller Freeman publication, will cease publishing after January, 1997. There has been a lot of talk on the Internet regarding this news and its meaning. Some feel it proves that OS/2 is doomed, others maintain the news reflects only on the direction OS/2 Magazine had taken in the past year(s).

Those who know me are already aware of my opinions on OS/2 Magazine 's closure but for those who don't, let me say officially and personally I am very sad to see them go. While I obviously believe in the power of electronic media, I strongly believe that traditional print magazines bring unique and indisputable benefits to their readers.

Last month, I had the opportunity to discuss the closure with well known OS/2 Magazine REXX columnist, Dick Goran. When he heard the news that January's would be the last column he sent to OS/2 Magazine, Mr. Goran intended to include a "goodbye" message to his readers in his column. For various reasons though, that message will not make it in January's issue. So, to be even more timely, I offered to give him a forum here to say thank you to his readers:

It has been my pleasure to write for OS/2 Magazine for the past three years. I'm sorry to say that this is my final column. Our WWW site and FTP server will remain active. I will continue to post utilities as well as other REXX-related information there for all to access anonymously. My REXX and OS/2 advocacy will continue as will my REXX training and consulting. The new edition of our REXX Reference Summary Handbook, with all of the Warp Version 4 updates, is available and full details can be found on our Web site.

On a more positive note, one notable OS/2 software vendor has announced plans to jump into the print OS/2 magazine arena, and of course, there are still high quality OS/2 print magazines being published in languages other than English. Oh, and OS/2 e-Zine! has no intention of going off the air!

Since we're going to be around for some time, I spent a while last month playing with the browser that most of you will probably be viewing us with in the near future: Netscape and IBM's much needed second beta of Netscape Navigator 2.02 for OS/2.

While the newer version works much better than the original beta (the fact that it works is an improvement for some), it still doesn't thrill me.

Some time ago I wrote a Rant about how, although I liked WebEx, I wished for all the gee-whiz features of Netscape Navigator. Now that I have them, I'm wondering what this wish might cost me.

The new beta of Navigator, as I've said is a vast improvement over the initial beta but it still has a lot of little "features" that I'm not so sure are beta problems. Graphics and fonts don't seem to be displayed as crisply as with WebEx; the default borders around graphical links are not nearly as nice as WebEx's; the darn thing insists on redrawing each button on the button bar every time my screen redraws...

I suppose some of these things will turn out to be growing pains that will eventually be fixed but I'm starting to worry that I'll end up writing a Rant in a few months pining for the days when we only had to worry about how OS/2 e-Zine! displayed on good old WebEx.

Be careful what you wish for, I guess.

Despite my personal disappointments with Netscape's progress on their browser, I did have some good news last month. I was happy and relieved to hear that IBM, first in the US and then in Canada, has announced Academic pricing on OS/2 Warp 4.

This welcome news first came from the US when Indelible Blue announced that (through the efforts of OS/2 customers) IBM had acknowledged the demand for Warp 4 in Universities and Colleges. Indelible Blue started taking pre-orders and is now shipping Warp 4 Academic to qualified students, faculty and staff for US$85. This version does not include microphones but the new price has relieved many cash-starved students.

Not to be outdone, at the end of November, IBM Canada announced that by December 3rd they would also have an academic version of Warp 4 available. Like their US counterpart, they are shipping non - microphone - containing boxes but again the price is substantially less than the full version price. Canadian OS/2-only distributor House of Technology expects it to hit the campuses in Canada (via H.O.T.'s distributors across the country) at around the Cdn$127 mark. We have no word yet whether IBM will spread this practice (or if they already have) in other countries.

IBM may not be overly interested in consumer-level marketing these days, but at least they still realize the value of grass-roots academic sales.

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