TODAY MARKS the 25th birthday of OS/2, which IBM announced on 2 April, 1987.
Initially intended as a protected mode successor to PC-DOS, OS/2 became the first serious PC operating system rival to Microsoft Windows. For a while, IBM and Microsoft collaborated on it, until Microsoft withdrew its support for various reasons and focused its efforts on Windows NT instead. OS/2 has never fully recovered from Microsoft's abandonment of it, nor has Windows.
However, throughout most of the 1990s, OS/2 was a much more stable, secure and reliable PC operating system than Windows. It was capable of running Windows applications and did so better than Windows. The OS/2 Desktop Shell was a masterpiece of object oriented design and programming that has never been matched by Windows or even the heavyweight Linux desktops Gnome and KDE.
Unfortunately, IBM never really understood the great potential that OS/2 had or gave it the management commitment, software development resources and marketing support to make it the formidable PC desktop competitor to Windows, Mac OS X and Linux that it could have become.
IBM dropped support for OS/2 at the end of 2006, but Serenity Systems International still sells OS/2 under the name Ecomstation. It has had a very interesting and eventful first 25 years. µ
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