OS/2 was the originally result of a joint programming effort by Microsoft and IBM. It was intended as a sophisticated replacement for MSDOS which would be capable of running legacy MSDOS programs.

Early releases were slow, memory hungry and buggy leading to jokes such as "OS/2 = half an Operating System." Microsoft and IBM eventually went their own ways. IBM got OS/2 in the divorce. IBM went on to complete development and release usable versions in the early 1990s.

With native GUI support and multitasking support, good scripting and Windows 3 compatibility, OS/2 appeared to be a strong OS. The major user problems generally cited were a lack of hardware drivers for many devices, poor native software application support, and occasional need for complex tuning to get acceptable performance. However, few people actually used OS/2 because MSDOS/Windows 3 provided adequate support for most users. The advent of Windows 9x on the home side and NT on the business side would have required replication of a massive, poorly documented Applications Programming Interface to provide 32 bit Windows capability in OS/2. IBM opted not to provide that. General IBM support for OS/2 slowly faded and the OS was eventually allowed become largely moribund although limited support is still offered as of 2005 in order to support business users.

Return To Index Copyright 1994-2002 by Donald Kenney.