The California Show: Warp Expo West - by Peter Skye
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Summary: Peter Skye looks back on Warp Expo West

Hard to concentrate on just one thing when you're shooting baskets in the gym and the cheerleaders come in to practice. I didn't make a basket the whole rest of the afternoon.

It was hard to concentrate at Warp Expo West, too, with four lecture halls running in parallel, the exhibitor hall packed to the walls, and banks of Vendor100 and Stellar Frontier machines stretched out in subservience to every OS/2 patron lucky enough to walk the hallways. This was, indeed, the OS/2 promised land.

Excitement In The Gym

There sure was a lot of excitement the day before the expo, when a mid-level software developer announced he was leaving the OS/2 realm and felt that others should line up and follow him out the door.

"At the exact moment that OS/2 users everywhere were waiting for information on the future of OS/2," says Rollin White, Chairman of Warp Expo West, "we had Peter Coffee, Esther Schindler and Alan Zeichick, three of the major journalists in this industry, seated at our Roundtable in the large auditorium and providing their perspectives on IBM's control of desktops everywhere." Coffee is with PC Week, Schindler with Sm@rt Reseller, and Zeichick with Camden Associates. "Their topic, and they covered it quite fully, was how IBM was looking beyond the current desktop market and trying to dominate the desktop of the future via the Internet. IBM is using the foundation they've built with OS/2 for many of their new products and services."

Steve Schiffman, the Warp Expo West Facilities and Networking Coordinator, knows that IBM supports OS/2. Steve is the man who spoke up at the beginning of IBM Executive Stephen King's presentation and asked point blank about a new client.

King, Senior Manager for IBM's Network Computing Software Division, gave a very firm and direct answer, and the transcript of that session's videotape carries his words. "I want to mention that thru June we've generated over $50 million of revenue associated with the OS/2 product line," King says, "In fact, we have exceeded the revenue generation for 1999 for the same point in time for revenue generation for 1998."

King continues. "That says year-to-year the revenue and the business has increased for the overall OS/2 set of products. Warp 4 specifically, we've generated over $30 million to date, just for OS/2 Warp 4 client ... business ... very strong, very good ... close to $100 million associated with the product."


Schiffman then says, "Sounds good. Any expectation of Warp 4 client refresh in the future?"

And King responds, "Question about Warp 4 client refresh. We are looking closely at this. I'm on the Integrated Product Management Team, IPMT. That is the decision making body for Warp 5 client. The meeting scheduled last Thursday, a couple of days ago, was cancelled due to weather conditions on the east coast [Hurricane Floyd]. Some people think that the proposal for a Warp 5 client that was to be proposed at the IPMT was also cancelled, but that is not the true situation."

Schiffman next asks, "I saw a report from Brad Wardell that said it [the Stardock OEM client] was not approved. Is this not true since the meeting did not take place?"

King's response: "Exactly."

"I wanted to find out what the current skinny was on the new client," Schiffman recalls. "I wanted a clarification on where IBM was going with the OS/2 Warp client."

Carla Hanzlik, Webmistress for Warp Expo West, has a final observation. "Everybody at the Expo felt positive," says Carla. "The show felt good. Nobody seemed to care about the missed IBM meeting. Usually you get worn out and tired at computer shows, but not this one. At the end of the day I was still smiling, and so was everybody else."

That's One From Column A, And One From Column D

"To schedule the two auditoriums and two lecture rooms, we grouped the sessions by subject matter and experience level and then set up the schedule so the different groups wouldn't overlap," says Rollin. "That way, if you had a specific interest or were at a particular level, you wouldn't have all the sessions you were interested in at the same time, or have time slots where there was nothing for you to attend."

But there was so much to see. Jerry Rash's Multimedia sessions carefully explained how to record and play back both video and audio on OS/2. Bill Schindler's XML presentations showed what XML was, what it looked like, how to use it. There were web presentations, server presentations, programming presentations, scientific presentations, advocacy presentations, and it was hard to choose.

"I was most pleased with the XML presentations because it's a technology that has such broad implications," continues Rollin. "XML lets data identify itself. The next Smack! release will use XML, for example. We made sure we included sessions on topics like this one that are of great interest to OS/2 users, even though they aren't OS/2-specific."

"We've put the lecture materials onto the SCOUG web site," says Carla. "You can see what each lecture covered and review each lecturer's presentation."

"I really enjoyed Dennis Sposato's Pre-Execution Services session," adds Steve. Sposato is on IBM's Rapid Deployment Team. "He creates a new bootable partition, the same way Boot Manager works, and in that partition he puts the specific program or programs that need to run before the operating system starts. That's how he gets around the need for a RIPL chip on your NIC card. And the new partition can be either logical or primary, and Sposato's code can even start Boot Manager if that's what you want."

On The Web

"The web site made the Expo real and gave people focus," says Webmistress Carla. "I especially liked putting together the Front Page and creating the little animated icons for the Presentations page. Dealing wth the graphics is always fun." And Carla also went out on the Internet to retrieve the information for the Warp Expo West lecturers, vendors and supporters pages. "I visited everyone's web site to get their logos and descriptions. It gave me a chance to see all the other interesting OS/2 web sites and places."

"Plus, Rollin has put together a wonderful Vendor100 web presence with descriptions of every Vendor100 product and the links so you can visit them. It's not just a link page - there's a description for everything. And every product in the Exhibitor hall and in Vendor100 has a demo on the Warp Expo West CD. Many people haven't realized that yet." (The new Vendor100 web page is at http://www.scoug.com/warpexpowest/v100/)

The Exhibitor Hall

Armin Schwarz, the creator of the House/2 home automation software, summarizes it nicely. "I met a lot of people with remarkable technical knowledge. One of the attendees sent me the protocol for a new X-10 controller so I will be able to support it without having to do much reverse engineering." The vendors at Warp Expo West found people who appreciated what they were doing and wanted more in the future.

"We received some wonderful after-expo messages," says Rollin. "Julien Pierre, the owner of Theta Band Software and developer of WarpCharge for online ordering at your web site and MMPack for OS/2 multimedia, sent us this one." Julien's message reads, "We sold more software at Warp Expo West than we normally do in a month."

"And IBM's Jim Williams sent this one," continues Rollin. "Thanks for making IBM feel right at home," Jim's message says.

At the IBM booth, an occasional software package was seen handed for free to various attendees. Michael Steinberg from Lotus demonstrated SmartSuite and promised a bright OS/2 future for the package. "Lotus wouldn't be here if they didn't have something new planned for OS/2," commented one guest.

Sundial Systems demonstrated new features for their full line of products - Mesa 2, DBExpert, Relish, Rover Pack and Clearlook - and discussed a brand new product that will be released in October. Serenity Systems promoted WiseManager, which runs OS/2 on diskless workstations.

A steady stream of visitors stopped at the combined VOICE and SCOUG Internet SIG booth where Dave Watson had IRC machines running. Terry Warren ran the SCOUG table, and Craig Greenwood ran one for POSSI. Demand Systems, the OS/2 preinstaller, had a number of offerings and the live full-motion video feed server was set up in their area so everyone could see how it worked.

Morcott Financials (no known URL) was there with their Quicken-like Java-based bookkeeping and accounting software, and NetZero showcased the OS/2 software for their free Internet access and email services. The Institute of Advanced Development Strategies was busy showing Project Planning and OS/2-to-Mainframe products. Auto VoiceSystems and Active Voice had OS/2-based telephone systems. Klassic Specialties had inkjet printer products. MSR attended with BackMaster.

"A man from London extended his business trip just so he could come to Warp Expo West," says Carla. "I showed him how to use Relish at the Sundial table. And I met an old friend from San Francisco, whom I've known since we were both using OS/2 1.2. And I met the owner of a restaurant chain who flew in with a business associate just to attend the show."

Big Saturday

"Any problems putting on the Expo?" I ask. "Anything you wish you'd done differently?"

"This was a big event," replies Rollin. "We interfaced behind-the-scenes with more people than we had ever dealt with in the past. But we've done this before and there weren't any communications breakdowns. It went quite smoothly."

"Yes, but we went 20% over estimate on the number of attendees," laughs Steve, "and at lunch time even the cafeteria manager had to go to work flipping burgers and serving guests. Success has its price!"

"I kept trying to point people at what they might find most important," adds Carla, "but they kept deciding that everything was important. The day was great, and I really enjoyed the Warp Expo West dinner in the evening."

Lasting Thoughts

"We did this Expo for free, thanks to SCOUG," says Steve, "and the OS/2 community came through with great lecturers, great exhibitors, great special presentations, and an incredibly enthusiastic crowd. We've made an impact on IBM and other organizations and we've shown them that there is still a strong interest in a quantity-one user of the OS/2 Warp client. We know that what we've done will be considered in IBM's future plans. Warp Expo West was definitely a success, and we hope to see everybody and more in future years."

"We made this a show of all things for all people," says Carla. "The impact of Warp Expo West on OS/2 has been so very positive. It was great that there were IBM people there to see so many OS/2 users and to field the OS/2 questions that people had, to see the interest, to see the grassroots support, to see the intelligence of the users. And it was busy. Nobody can say they didn't have much to do."

"When you have something that people consider so precious, which is the way they feel about OS/2, you just let yourself become a part of it," concludes Rollin. "We've tried to support that feeling, and I think we've been successful. OS/2 isn't 'just another operating system'. There's something about it, something about the design or the look and feel or something we're not yet really aware of, that bonds with us and joins us in what we want to do. OS/2 is more than a tool, it's an extension of ourselves. It gives us power and brings our dreams closer, and Warp Expo West has brought all of this again to the OS/2 community."

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Copyright © 1999 - Falcon Networking ISSN 1203-5696 November 1, 1999