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warp expowest
Pictures from Sept. 1999

The views expressed in articles on this site are those of their authors.

SCOUG was there!

Copyright 1998-2024, Southern California OS/2 User Group. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

SCOUG, Warp Expo West, and Warpfest are trademarks of the Southern California OS/2 User Group. OS/2, Workplace Shell, and IBM are registered trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation. All other trademarks remain the property of their respective owners.

The Southern California OS/2 User Group
A Future Vision

Warpstock is the Tomorrow of OS/2

by Peter Skye

TASCA --- In these unsettling times of operating system wars we watch for any indication at all of how the battles go.  We search out and linger on each information tidbit:  Which vendor hasn't announced a new version of their OS/2 application?  What hardware isn't yet supported on OS/2?  How many desktops at IBM are running on NT?

           These are today's questions about today's happenings.  We want to know the situation as it is right now, this very hour, so we can celebrate a small victory or be ready for the next surprise.

           And for the past we reminisce.  Did you ever install from 5¼" diskette?  Ever on a 386?  The astounding success of The OS/2 Museum, that traveling agglomeration of IBM boxes, press releases and vendor dreams, shows that we take pride in this precious thing, this crop we've planted and tilled on family soil, this adopted child we've loved and nurtured as it grew.  This labor is ours.  We want it to succeed.

           Push the present aside, and give up the past.  It's time to look to the future.


           And where, for that future, do we look?  It's not forthcoming from IBM.  "The future of OS/2?" might the Press Relations Officer ask.  "Let me check with the other 18 divisions and I'll get right back to you."  Or on the front pages of Warpcast, OS/2 e-Zine! and the OS/2 SuperSite?  No, those are today's happenings; you won't find the future there.

           There's only one place, one venue, one teeming two-day metropolis where you can feel the winds and taste the future.

           Chicago.  Warpstock.  October 17 and 18, 1998.

Finding The Future

           There's a road map already in place for OS/2, and it's a healthy one.  Believe it.  That's why about 500 wearers of the OS/2 cloth are getting together to discuss the future, and why people like Stan Sidlov, the Event Chair for Warpstock, and Mark Abramowitz, a member of the Warpstock Steering Committee, are taking their valuable time to bring off this techie confab on a pseudo Max Yasgur farm in Itasca.

           Planning an event like Warpstock is a phone-juggling, email-hammering, schedule-reblocking experience, and personally I'd rather massage a porcupine.  Still, it's impossible for those in charge of Warpstock to talk to the presenters, the vendors, the registrants, even the non-participants, and not feel the future that these others see.

           "Stan," I ask as he hangs up after speaking with John Hebert, Warpstock's Facilities Coordinator, "what's cookin'?"

Cookin' Big Blue

           "IBM," says Stan.  "This constant fear that people have, that IBM won't update, that there won't be any more releases, that there won't be any support, it's ridiculous.  First and foremost, IBM absolutely must have OS/2 to support their customers' networks.  NT Server can realistically support no more than 200 connections; past that, it bogs down.  OS/2 and Unix can both support 500 to 1,000.  If a corporate customer wants a small network and doesn't want expandability in the future, then sure, NT Server works for them.  But corporate customers have needs that surpass that.  I've got 1,150 connections right now on a one-node OS/2 server."

           "IBM knows what the competition can't do and is carefully and strategically putting more OS/2 pieces onto the landscape.  WorkSpace On-Demand, Aurora Server, Netscape 4, Java 1.1.6, these all show IBM's commitment."

           "Further," says Stan, "the non-corporate OS/2 users, the current OS/2 client base of small and home office users, are the direct recipients of the technology that corporate America is using.  Look at the LS-120 and other removable hardware support.  Look at USB and DVD non-multimedia support.  This is the direct result of IBM addressing the needs of corporate America."

International OS/2

           "And international corporations as well," adds Mark.  "We had great international attendance for Warpstock '97 last year, and this year will be the same.  The Netherlands, Australia, Spain, Italy, Canada, countries around the globe are all being represented.  OS/2 is very much alive outside the United States."

           Mark is correct.  OS/2 has corporate customers throughout the world.  IBM, an international corporation itself, takes this very seriously.

           And Stan's not done yet:  "Plus, consider the vagueness of when NT 5 will be released.  These customers are large corporations that need computing power now.  They can't wait a year or two years.  It's like a delivery truck.  If you need it, you need it now.  You can't wait a year to make your deliveries.  And NT isn't third party certified yet for Y2K compliance.  Corporate America wants such certification, must have such certification.  Fannie Mae and HUD, for example, both require that banks be Y2K compliant by December 1, 1998.  That's in three months.  I have to laugh when I read quotes from people in the trade press saying that NT 5.0 is going to save them from a Y2K screw-up."

OS/2's Actuarial Table

           Nothing lasts forever.  Leaded gas, daisy wheel printers, everything leads to something better.  What is the life expectancy of OS/2?  What is the life expectancy of its competition?  What is OS/2's true future?

           How many years of life are left in OS/2?

           "Ten years or more," says Mark.  "You might see some name changes for marketing reasons, but it'll still be OS/2.  There are some unknowns, of course.  Uncompetitive business practices by others, internal battles within IBM, the OS/2 independent software vendors (ISVs).  Sundial Systems, for example, produces applications which are as good as or better than the top of the line Microsoft applications.  As long as ISVs are willing to keep raising the bar, OS/2 users are going to continue to be better off than their Windows counterparts.  That's why we're having the special software demonstration area at Warpstock," Mark concludes, "to showcase the new apps that many OS/2 users haven't yet seen, the ones that they can now use in the years ahead."

           And Stan agrees.  "Five years minimum, that's a minimum, plus five years for Aurora past that, and remember that OS/2 is the underlying transport mechanism for Java and TCP/IP on the Intel-based network clients.  Generally, NT needs a 25% faster processor and more memory (64 MB instead of 32 MB, for example) for the same performance as OS/2, and NT doesn't perform well with IDE.  My own machine has both OS/2 and NT, and is noticeably slower when running NT.  These are the types of things we'll be passing along to Warpstock attendees."

More Software To Come

           And what about WorkSpace On-Demand, which runs OS/2 on an entire bank of desktops with all setup done by a central administrator?  Is it good or bad for OS/2?

           Mark, who happens to be one of the CompuServe OS/2 sysops, sees the issue very keenly.  "WorkSpace On-Demand is not for the SOHO (small office, home office) user, but look at all the collateral improvements to OS/2 that its success locks IBM into."

           "Corporate users will want even more hardware support, even better software.  This is a growth curve.  IBM's not going to license hundreds of thousands of OS/2 seats to their biggest customers and then abandon them.  When somebody says 'we want USB desktop video and audio for training', IBM will give it to them.  And the SOHO user gets the benefit.  Smart OS/2 users (and that's all of them, of course) have to stay current with WSOD."

           Stan?  What do you think?

           "Simpler and dumber desktops with centralized management and control are the future in corporate America," adds Stan.  "WorkSpace On-Demand addresses that issue.  It runs their legacy applications, and it works very well on the legacy hardware which corporate America already owns, although you would probably want at least a Pentium 75 and 32 MB.  For the most part, NT 4 and certainly NT 5 are incapable of running well on these machines because of their resource requirements; they need more RAM, more disk space, a more expensive processor.  This is what Warpstock is for --- so that those who've got WSOD experience can pass it along to others."

Java And OS/2 Share Success Together

           "Remember that IBM's figures show that desktops only comprise 40% to 45% of all computers," continues Stan.  "Java can run on all computers --- mainframes, midrange and embedded, as well as the desktop.  So IBM is committed to Java because one end-user development team can write an entire package that encompasses the desktop through the mainframe.  Java runs on OS/2.  It's simple.  IBM needs OS/2 on the desktop to convince their customers to buy IBM solutions."

           "We will definitely have Java presentations at Warpstock."

Aurora Bites NT

           The new Aurora version of Warp Server is also big news.  IBM is positioning it to take over the larger installations that NT can't handle.  Stan is looking at the future through Aurora eyes.

           "Aurora simplifies the work for LAN administrators with its ability to mix OS/2, NT, Win95/98 clients and servers."  Stan uses Warp Connect right now; he's waiting for Aurora.  "It can serve large shops that also have Windows clients.  It has the journaling file system from AIX that's a significant improvement over HPFS386 with its spanning of hard drives and back up of transactional points in a database."  AIX is an IBM version of Unix which runs on its RS/6000 machines.

           "It's for this reason," adds Mark, "that we've got some Aurora sessions planned for Warpstock.  Warp Server is more stable than NT.  This new version is worth seeing."

The Netscape Window

           Even Netscape, the lowly browser which shouldn't be any more complicated than a word processor, is getting an IBM rewrite.

           "There are other browsers," Mark patiently explains.  "Opera is on its way.  You have two other current projects using the Netscape code base.  IBM didn't have to okay the Netscape 4 project."  And Mark leans forward.  "But they did.  Why is IBM spending money on another browser?  Because corporate customers are demanding that IBM take responsibility for their OS/2 installations.  IBM sees the recent sales figures.  40,000 OS/2 seats to Boeing in Seattle.  15,000 seats to HSBC in China.  30,000 seats to BBV in Spain.  14,000 seats to the Bank of Montreal.  40,000 seats to AGIE's Industrial Machines in Switzerland.  10,000 seats to GAD in Germany.  20,000 seats to Lufthansa Airlines.  Almost 40,000 seats to NationsBank, with 110,000 seats planned.  These are just some of the sales in the past three months.  You want me to go on?  These buyers want an IBM-sanctioned browser.  That's why we're working so hard on getting a complete Netscape 4 demonstration at this year's Warpstock."

           "With Netscape 4," adds Stan, "users get support for the newer HTML format, plus the same interface they've become used to elsewhere."

And Win32-OS/2

           Warpstock will showcase the future from other angles too, of course.  The Win32-OS/2 project will get center stage with Timur Tabi at the helm, showing the latest version of the Windows95-to-OS/2 converter.

           Mark sees Win32-OS/2 as a strong incentive for desktops to switch to OS/2.  "It will breathe some serious life into the OS/2 market when Windows 95 users realize that they can run all their favorite software on a faster, more flexible operating system.  Win32-OS/2 will completely explode the operating system market; Win95 apps will run faster and with more stability, and with the OS/2 advantages that are unavailable to Windows users."

           Stan's a little more coy, perhaps because he's already spoken with Timur.  "Just come to Warpstock and see Timur Tabi demonstrate the software," says Stan.  "Timur promises some surprises."

The Job Fair And The Party

           There will be an OS/2 Job Fair incorporated into this year's event, plus evening festivities on Saturday.  And the event directors have added a shareware/freeware demonstration area.

           But Mark summarizes, quite nicely, the future of OS/2 being a permeating force at Warpstock.

           "This event is a celebration of OS/2," says Mark.  "You'll learn things that never show up on the newsgroups, you'll meet people you've communicated with for years, you'll buy software you didn't know existed, and at the special Warpstock prices."

           "Warpstock is a permanent event.  We're incorporating.  We'll be back next year, and the year after that.  We anticipate accepting bids for the best locations from Phoenix, New York, Dallas, Quebec, St. Louis, perhaps back in Los Angeles."

           "At last year's Warpstock people were energized, excited, and when they left they had new ideas and dreams.  In the past year we've seen new development by those people.  This year we'll have that same energizing, exciting event where people can enjoy the magic of the OS/2 community.  We'll have an even better vendor turnout.  We're at a tremendous hotel and at a phenomenal rate."

           "Warpstock is designed and developed for the SOHO user.  These are the people who know that OS/2 does it better, quicker and with more stability than virtually anything else available, and it does it the way you want to do it.  It's more flexible than Windows; you can do virtually anything five different ways.  The marketing machine that the competition runs keeps telling people until they believe it, 'Windows is the future, everybody uses Windows, there are no OS/2 applications, OS/2 is dead.' But the numbers tell us otherwise.  Some people buy quality; smart buyers want quality.  OS/2 is quality.  And that's the future."


           I'm going to Warpstock.  I'm staying at the Wyndham hotel where Warpstock is being held because I know there'll be a lot of OS/2 activity before and after each day's events.  I don't want to miss anything.

           Stan and Mark are going to Warpstock.  They're going because they're professionals and they can see the future.  The future is wide open, and OS/2 is sitting plump and happy in the driver's seat.  They'll be staying at the Wyndham as well, because that's where the after-hours OS/2 action will double the value of the trip.

           The people who write your OS/2 software are going to Warpstock.  They'll be giving lectures to pass along what they've learned, and they'll be attending presentations to pick up new ideas and "raise the bar", as Mark says.  And they'll be selling their wares at discount.

           "I know exactly where I'm going," one OS/2 software writer told me recently.  "I'm going to learn even more about OS/2, and come back and write a new release that will knock off your socks.  I'm going to demonstrate what I've got now, and I'm going to write code that Windows won't ever touch."

           "I know where the OS/2 smart guys are going to be, and I'm going to be there with them."

           "I'm going to Warpstock."

           As of September 1, less than 40 rooms were still available at the Wyndham Hotel at the special $99/night Warpstock rate.  The special rate is good through September 16 only.



Stan Sidlov,

Mark Abramowitz,

OS/2 e-Zine!,

The OS/2 Museum, email to both curators:,

The OS/2 SuperSite,


Wyndham Hotel Northwest Chicago, 800-996-3426 national reservations, 630-773-4000 hotel switchboard,

Section List

Finding The Future
Cookin' Big Blue
International OS/2
OS/2's Actuarial Table
More Software To Come
Java And OS/2 Share Success Together
Aurora Bites NT
The Netscape Window
And Win32-OS/2
The Job Fair And The Party

The Southern California OS/2 User Group
P.O. Box 26904
Santa Ana, CA 92799-6904, USA

Copyright 1998 the Southern California OS/2 User Group. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

SCOUG is a trademark of the Southern California OS/2 User Group.
OS/2, Workplace Shell, and IBM are registered trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation.
All other trademarks remain the property of their respective owners.