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The Top 10 Stories to Come in 1999 - by Chris Wenham
OS/2 e-Zine!

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Summary: Chris Wenham makes some predictions for the year of 1999 on what the top stories for OS/2 will be.

10. It becomes cool to run OS/2 again

In 1999 we predict no more cringing from friends and colleagues, no more embarrassment or shyness when you tell them what you run. They'll think that if you're still using it after the mainstream press has claimed "OS/2 Is Dead" all through 1995 and onwards, then you must know some special secret that they don't. The good news is, there is something of substance to that "special secret", so it's not as if you'll be faking it.

9. Norton AntiVirus

IBM sold their AntiVirus division to Symantec, but as part of the deal the company will be producing an OS/2 version of their popular Norton AntiVirus tool. Already in beta testing, it should be released in early 1999. Even better news is that there are still a pathetically small number of viruses designed to infect OS/2, we don't predict that this will increase by any noticeable amount in 1999. But we do suggest you get an antivirus tool anyway, to be certain, and to protect against viruses that infest your DOS and WinOS/2 programs.

8. Opera

While Opera's web site says that very little progress has been made in the OS/2 port of the slim web browser, 1999 might be the year when a working version actually ships. Don't expect it to make much of a splash, though. We think it's already too late for it to compete with the new browser in town, which is...

7. Warpzilla

Sometime in 1999 you should be able to download a version of Warpzilla - the OS/2 port of the open-sourced Netscape browser - that's ready enough for prime time, or at least good enough to serve as a full replacement for Communicator. Warpzilla is exciting not just because it's a new browser, but because it's a fantastic new browser. Mozilla, the proper name for the browser from which "Warpzilla" is derived and ported from, is rapidly advancing and showcasing some of the hottest technology in web publishing. The "Next Generation" layout engine is not only slim and fast, negating many of the reasons for wanting Opera, it's also considerably more flexible. Warpzilla will probably end up being our access portal to the new world of "Web Applications" too - or programs that work through platform-agnostic HTML interfaces rather than using an OS/2 or Windows API.

6. Sci-Tech Display Doctor

GRADD nearly cut the mustard, but IBM has been too slow in getting it ready for prime time. A clear surprise to all of us was when Sci-Tech announced they were porting their display driver technology to OS/2. This should clean up the driver crisis in a big, beautiful bang. To make you salivate, proper support for 3D accelerated cards should be included too.

5. More Warp users switch to.... Not Windows.

The defection continues as more and more users find they can't keep going with OS/2 anymore and make the switch, not to Windows, but to Linux. Those OS/2 users who weren't in it for the "we hate Microsoft" reason or the "we like better technology" reason have already switched to Windows during '97 and early '98. What we have left are technology loving, solution oriented, Microsoft disliking people who are now being courted by other technology rich platforms like BeOS, FreeBSD and Linux. How many drop OS/2 cold turkey, or find a way to keep a little on the side with the help of Boot Manager or second PCs is anybody's guess.

4. Open Source Software becomes critical to OS/2's survival

If there's no profit to be made anymore, where else is software going to come from than people who don't care about profit anyway? In 1998 we saw the open source software movement make headlines, and in 1999 we'll see the OS/2 world wake up to the fact that this is where its next major apps are coming from. What are a few good names to drop? GIMP - the Photoshop-level graphics tool, Warpzilla - the next generation web browser that shows Internet Explorer how it's done, SANE/2 - the answer to all our scanner driver dreams, Apache - the web server of the masses, and MySQL - the enterprise-worthy database back-end.

Yet while it seems that nearly every day you hear about another major program being released into the open-source domain (especially games, such as Doom, Hexen, Heretic, Descent etc.), there's little benefit to OS/2 users if there aren't enough programmers around to port them all. The shortage of potential applications may disappear, leaving us with another shortage problem: programming talent. Expect to see teeth grind in 1999 as the mountain of desirable, but un-ported open-source software grows.

3. Warpstock 99

Where will it be? How will it go? What surprises are in store? Note to developers and vendors: You've got about 9 months to come up with something incredible. Good luck!

2. Warp Client 5

If the rumors are true, Stardock Systems might be handed the crown opportunity to be the marketing force behind a new OS/2 client. The idea is simple: Code by IBM, consumer push by Stardock. Let the debates fly on whether Stardock is the right choice, but as for now this is still all hot air. We contacted Brad Wardell of Stardock Systems after the rumor was exposed to the big-time in a Ziff Davis UK publication, but all he wants to say right now is that ZD's article has "some inaccuracies" and he still wants to talk with IBM before saying more.

1. Y2K

If your power utility doesn't fail you, this will be a time to sit back and laugh. Windows still isn't fully Y2K compliant, but OS/2 is. Rated as story #1 not because it has special importance to OS/2 users, but because it's going to be drummed ad-nauseum in the media in the year of 1999. Prepare to have lots of water-cooler conversations that center around this topic.

In the coming months we'll be helping you make double sure you're safe though, with tutorials that help you get your system ready. Plus we'll have tests of dozens of OS/2 applications, showing you what will work in "twenty oh oh" and what won't.

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So what are your predictions? Have some insider info that might shed light on what the next big thing for OS/2 is going to be in 1999? Let us know in our interactive forum.

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Copyright © 1999 - Falcon Networking ISSN 1203-5696
January 16, 1999