|Successful Operating Systems
|- by Paul Muir
The life blood of an operating system is not the operating system's features but the applications that are available to utilize those features. If you have a technically excellent OS but nobody writes applications for it, then nobody is going to buy it.
Poor operating systems can often survive and prosper if they have developer support -- the applications "work around" the inefficiencies or deficiencies in the base OS. More than any other reason, this is why I believe that Microsoft's Windows 3.x was successful at a time when OS/2 was available. I do not believe that even the most diehard supporter of Windows would argue that OS/2 with its multitasking, multithreading architecture was a poorer technical choice than Windows 3.x and yet Windows maintained its market dominance.
Based on the above, if OS/2 (Warp or Merlin) is going to be a popular OS with general "Joe Public" acceptance rather than just with power users and specialists who appreciate a high powered OS, the applications must be available. So, for the record here is my "wish list" of applications that I consider to be essential for a successful OS, broken down into general categories with comments where I believe OS/2 is ahead or behind the pack:
Personally speaking, I have not yet found the perfect file manager although several shareware and commercial applications come close to this. As far as the other utilities go most of these needs are satisfied by shareware and commercial applications but they tend to be scattered. What is really needed is one single package with a consistent interface. A classic example of this kind of package is PC Tools for Windows by Symantec which bundled some simple and some complex functions into one product.
OS/2 has been sorely lacking in this field but the new Lotus SmartSuite promises to not only rectify this, but to take OS/2 to a very advanced level. The one button access to web sites should be relatively easy to incorporate if it is not already there and Warp's automatic software downloading and installation procedure exists and could easily be adapted and expanded to these applications.
OS/2 appears to be doing reasonably well in this field, ahead in some areas and behind in others, especially with the various shareware offerings around as alternatives to the IBM provided applications (outside of the web browser).
Generally, OS/2 appears to be reasonably well equipped although I believe that much more can be done to integrate the applications together. For example, when the phone rings let's have software (rather than hardware) that detects whether it is a voice call for the answering machine, a fax or a data transfer. Several applications are under development for Windows 95 which start to address this communications integration but I have not yet seen any for OS/2.
One area where I have found OS/2 very lacking is in the file transfer arena. Yes, I have purchased Kopy Kat and I have downloaded trial copies of other similar applications but none of them come anywhere near Traveling Software's Laplink for Windows in terms of functionality and ease of use. This is one area where tremendous potential exists for a developer -- if anybody is working on this please let me know!
OS/2 goes some way to meeting this requirement but seems to fall short when it comes to the glamorous stuff. If you ever compare the Microsoft Intellipoint and Intellitype features with OS/2 you will see what I mean -- accelerated pointers, snap to pointers and keyboards that sound like typewriters are all within the capabilities of OS/2. It's just that nobody has created them (yes, I have tried BocaSoft Sounds and it is a start, but it needs more bells and whistles).
On the games side, OS/2 is starting to catch up with some very sophisticated and highly acclaimed applications but the choice appears to be limited. For example, I haven't seen any good flight or car simulations on the market yet. Anybody know if Microprose or similar is working on any ports to OS/2?
And please, do not shoot the messenger. I am just a typical user who likes OS/2 and respects its technical merits.
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Copyright © 1996 - Falcon Networking