IBM posts funeral notice for OS/2

IBM reaffirmed its intent to soon end support for OS/2, releasing an official road map for the software's demise.

IBM is measuring OS/2 for its coffin. The company reaffirmed its intent to end support for the storied operating system soon, releasing an official roadmap for the software's demise.

IBM hasn't been actively developing OS/2 for close to a decade, although it has continued releasing maintenance fixes and updates. Last week, the company formalised its support withdrawal dates and released a long list of components it will cease marketing in December.

Limited support for new IBM hardware systems will continue through December 31 at which point IBM will stop releasing new device drivers. One year later, in December 2006, IBM will stop providing defect support and will remove fix packs from its website.

Die-hard OS/2 users will still be able to contract with IBM Global Services for specialised OS/2 support. IBM is urging users to migrate elsewhere, though. Echoing suggestions it began making several years ago, the company recommends Linux as a good alternative.

IBM and Microsoft initially worked together to develop OS/2, which was briefly positioned to grab the baton from Windows as the operating system for the future.

In the early 1990s, though, the partnership between the two companies unravelled as Microsoft pulled out of OS/2 development to focus its attention on Windows. IBM never managed to find a broad market for the system. However, OS/2 was for many years the operating system standard for automated teller machines.

A number of OS/2 devotees would love to see the technology given over to enthusiasts. At, a petition signed by more than 8000 visitors urged IBM to release OS/2, or as much of it as is legally possible, as open-source software.

An IBM spokesperson said that was highly unlikely.

"It received some consideration, but it won't be open sourced," he said. "A number of third parties participated in OS/2 development. There would be significant legal and technical obstacles involved."

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Stacy Cowley

IDG News Service
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