Merlin: Some Predictions- by Dr. Dirk Terrell

I've used OS/2 since 1992 when version 2.0 was first released. Those were the dark days of being an OS/2 user for sure. If you could get it running on your hardware, it was quite an improvement over Windows. But that was the tricky part -- finding device drivers, if they even existed.

Version 2.1 was greatly improved in the device driver area, and in terms of speed and stability. Warp came with even more extensive hardware support and simple Internet access. I've watched OS/2 grow more powerful and more popular over the last few years, and now comes the latest incarnation -- OS/2 Warp 4.0, codename Merlin.

Merlin sports a crisper-looking GUI that will hopefully silence the critics of Warp's more industrial look (on installation). Most noticeable is the WarpCenter, a replacement for the Launchpad which allows you to drop objects onto it for one or two click access. The Merlin beta ships with a second CD packed with device drivers. Hopefully, the days of hunting down device drivers are over. If you do need to go looking, I installed Merlin on a machine with no network card and connected to my ISP with a US Robotics Sportster 28.8 without any problems.

Perhaps the most exciting new features in Merlin though, are Voice Type Navigation (VTN) and Voice Type Dictation (VTD). VTN allows you to navigate the system with voice commands rather than having to use the keyboard or mouse. VTD, which is much more resource intensive, allows you to dictate to the machine rather than having to type. There are obviously some very useful applications of this kind of technology. The naysayers are out in force, though, claiming that the voice technology is Merlin is no big deal. I am reminded of a comment in comp.os.os2.advocacy a couple of years ago by an ardent OS/2 detractor when OS/2 supporters were pointing out the built-in Internet access of Warp:

That's the mistake IBM is making. They think Internet access is a killer application. It isn't. To Joe and Jane 30Million Users, the Internet is just more geek crap like modems and BBSes.
Everyday I see more and more ads, commercials, etc with these http://... addresses. There sure are a lot of geeks out there.

Now the same people are saying that VTN and VTD are just "more geek crap." Mark my words -- two years from now, these will have become "must have" features. And once again, OS/2 leads the way.


Dr. Dirk Terrell is an astronomer at the University of Florida specializing in interacting binary stars. His hobbies include cave diving, martial arts, painting and writing OS/2 software such as HTML Wizard.

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