Editor's Introduction

Wow, it's finally here.

For a long time we (and many OS/2 afficianados) had despaired that Merlin would never arrive, but it finally has. Even this initial limited beta had us worried up here in Canada that we weren't going to see it -- it was almost two weeks after the first reports hit Usenet that Merlin had been released before we finally got our hands on a copy.

In the end though, IBM may move slowly (they are a big company, after all) but they move surely.

Of course, the first thing we did here at OS/2 e-Zine! after we got our copy was install it. What a monumental wave of relief that was! After the months of FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) spread by some cynics (some of their claims were, "Merlin doesn't exist," and, "IBM will never ship it on time,") Merlin does seem to be on time and on target.

For those who have worried that IBM is forsaking the "home" market, I think Merlin gives us some signs of hope. Despite the fact that the corporate world seems to be mostly disinterested in "other" OSs with fancy interfaces, IBM has chosen to significantly chisel, draw and colour what was already a functional interface. I think that the sound themes and redrawn icons are proof that even if IBM won't publicly throw its hat in the ring, it wouldn't mind if home users elected OS/2 to manage their computers.

Oh, and if you're wondering about the latest news regarding Netscape and OS/2, well, there isn't much. Both companies are being very tight-lipped. Officials at IBM will only say that they are in Negotiations with Netscape; the folks at Netscape will say even less. For now, we'll have to cross our fingers and play with the very slightly modified WebExplorer v1.2 that ships with this version of Merlin.

And Merlin is still beta software. After a promising first day playing with the new OS, we were all but ready to declare it so good that we would start using it as our daily environment. On second thought though, maybe we were a little hasty. On day number two Merlin refused to boot at all (gremlins?) and a complete reinstall was required. There are some other worries too; in fact just when I was almost finished writing this editorial, I saved it with my text editor of choice and the file disappeared. This is "Merlin Editorial: Revision Two" so I hope I can remember all the pearls of wisdom I had jotted down before the accident. Needless to say, most people will not be using Merlin for day to day use, at least not for important tasks.

For these various reasons, as is our custom here at OS/2 e-Zine!, we will not be doing "reviews" of Merlin and its various components. This would be unfair to IBM and to our readers since things are bound to change drastically over the next 3 months as IBM tightens the bolts and polishes the paint. For now, as many on the Internet have already noted, let's say that Merlin seems a little sluggish in some situations when compared to its predecessor.

For similar reasons, this "no review" policy affects the Voice Type and Voice Dictation abilities of Merlin. While these are not quite perfect at the present time, at least one user has stated that even now it is possible to use these features on a 60Mhz Pentium. A letter from an IBM spokesperson to OS/2 e-Zine! earlier this month stated that, "When Merlin is announced later this year, an Intel Pentimum 75Mhz processor with 16 to 24MB RAM will be sufficient to utilize speech navigation and dictation features." Good news, but we'll withold our judgement.

What you will find in this Special Merlin Supplement is plenty of first looks: Dirk Terrell makes some Merlin predictions; Kevin Linfield presents his list of Merlin bugs; Chris Wright talks about the new interface; and we take a look at the updated installation procedure. And of course, we have plenty of screen shots!

So read on and don't forget to write to us with your own Merlin experiences and opinions...

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