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Making an attempt out Microsoft’s pre-release OS/2 2.0 • The Register

Making an attempt out Microsoft’s pre-release OS/2 2.0 • The Register

2024-03-12 05:50:42

The earliest identified launch of Microsoft’s 32-bit model of OS/2 is now on the market, and intrepid code archeologists have it operating. It is a glimpse into an alternatve computing universe.

The long-lost Microsoft OS/2 2 – BNIB, as they say on certain popular online auction sites.

The long-lost Microsoft OS/2 2 – BNIB, as they are saying on sure standard on-line public sale websites (click on to enlarge)

Final month we lined the information of the discovery and purchase of the one identified surviving copy of 32-bit OS/2 from Microsoft – versus the IBM model, the one which grew to become a retail product and a descendant of which is still around today.

Reg reader Brian Ledbetter purchased it, opened the still-sealed field, imaged the disks, and even managed to put in it and take a number of screenshots. Now, two of the web’s consultants in getting early PC working methods operating as we speak have managed to fireside it up, and you may see the outcomes.

Why such curiosity on this almost third-of-a-century previous, unreleased OS? As a result of that is the way in which the PC trade very almost went. This SDK got here out in June 1990, only one month after Home windows 3.0. If 32-bit OS/2 had launched as deliberate, Home windows 3 would have been the final model earlier than it was absorbed into OS/2 and disappeared. There would by no means have been any 32-bit variations: no Home windows NT, no Home windows 95; no Explorer, no Begin menu or taskbars. That, in flip, would possibly nicely have killed off Apple as nicely. No iPod, no iPhone, no fondleslabs. Twenty-first century computer systems can be unimaginably totally different.

The shock right here is that we will see a glimpse of this world that by no means occurred. The invention of this pre-release OS reveals how very almost prepared it was in 1990. IBM did not launch its solo model until April 1992, the identical month as Home windows 3.1 – however now, we will see it was almost prepared two years earlier.

This is a version message nobody has seen in over a third of a century.

This can be a model message no person has seen in over a 3rd of a century

That is why Michal Nečásek of the OS/2 Museum referred to as his look The Future That Never Was. He uncovered a few important bugs, however extra impressively, he discovered workarounds for each, and acquired each options working high quality.

OS/2 2 may run a number of DOS VMs without delay, however within the preview, they would not open – due to make use of of an undocumented instruction which Intel did implement within the Pentium MMX and later processors. Secondly, the bundled community consumer would not set up – however eradicating a single file acquired that working high quality. That alone is a major distinction between Microsoft’s OS/2 2.0 and IBM’s model: Huge Blue did not embrace networking till Warp Connect 3 in 1995.

His verdict?

Over at Nearly Enjoyable, Neozeed additionally took an actual look at Microsoft OS/2 2.0, fastidiously recreating that screenshot from PC Magazine in May 1990. He even managed to get some Home windows 2 packages operating, though this preview launch didn’t but have a Home windows subsystem.

The preview release has the Desktop Manager and File Manager UI of OS/2 1.x – and Windows 3.x

The preview launch has the Desktop Supervisor and File Supervisor UI of OS/2 1.x – and Home windows 3.x (click on to enlarge)

On his Internet Archive page, he has disk pictures and downloadable digital machines so that you could run this your self beneath VMware or 86Box.

The opposite leg of the Trousers of Time

If we attempt to put this in historic context, it could assist to elucidate why persons are so on this. IBM invented the PC, but it surely did not develop the machine’s OS. Neither did Microsoft: it licensed it in from Seattle Laptop Merchandise, as we described in January when the oldest known version was rediscovered.

In 1987, IBM announced the second generation of the PC platform and its working system. The {hardware} half was the PS/2 vary of computer systems, whose legacy contains PS/2 mouse and keyboard ports, the VGA graphics normal and monitor plug, and three.5 inch 1.4MB floppies. The software program half was OS/2: the deliberate way forward for PC working methods, co-developed with Microsoft.

OS/2 was designed and planned to overcome all the most important limitations of MS-DOS: only one program operating at a time, restricted to 1MB of RAM (much less various area for ROMs, I/O ports and issues), a most of 32MB per disk partition, 8.3-character filenames, and no built-in networking or normal GUI.

The issue was, nonetheless, that OS/2 model 1.x focused 80286 computer systems. The 16-bit 80286 processor, launched in 1982, had many limitations in comparison with the 80386, which was released in 1985 – two years before OS/2 1.0. It wasn’t that the 80386DX may handle an inconceivable 4GB of RAM, 256 occasions greater than the 80286. The important thing function was that the ‘386 may multitask a number of DOS digital machines. In 1987, Microsoft had already demonstrated an OS/2 prototype codenamed FOOTBALL which may multitask a number of DOS apps. You’ll be able to even try it in your browser.

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When OS/2 launched, virtually anybody who may afford computer systems for work ran DOS. All the important thing enterprise packages on the planet had been DOS apps. OS/2 1.x’s fancy multitasking was nugatory, as a result of it did not work with the software program already on the market. It is usually believed that focusing on OS/2 1 on the ‘286 was on the insistence of IBM, which had sold a lot of expensive 80286-based PS/2s. It had promised these prospects OS/2.

On the time, the Reg FOSS desk was a callow younger software-support bod for an IBM reseller, labored on loads of Model 50 and Model 60 PS/2s, and might attest that the majority of these prospects neither knew nor cared. Anybody selecting IBM equipment was not a price-sensitive purchaser.

OS/2 1 flopped.

For a 3rd of a century, the way in which the historical past has been advised is that an inside skunkworks undertaking at Microsoft grew to become Home windows 3.0, it was a shock hit, and consequently, Microsoft dropped out of the OS/2 undertaking to pursue Home windows as a substitute. IBM continued by itself, first, and arguably fatally, putting out OS/2 1.3, then ending OS/2 2.0 and releasing it a lot later, in 1992 – when it was too little, too late.

This unfinished preview launch of OS/2 2.0 reveals that the story wasn’t so easy. IBM did not heroically battle on alone for 2 extra years to finish OS/2 2. Getting construct 6.78 operating reveals that the 12 months Microsoft launched Home windows 3.0, it already had a working 32-bit OS/2 2.0, virtually able to go.

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In our earlier story, we did not spell this half out clearly sufficient and a few readers missed it: what turned up on eBay was Microsoft’s pre-release 32-bit OS/2 software program improvement equipment – however together with the SDK’s compilers and so forth got here a preview launch of the OS itself. Other versions of the SDK are on the market, however they do not comprise the precise OS, which for 34 years was only known from a number of historic screenshots.

What Mr Ledbetter purchased is Preview Launch 2. As that quantity implies, there was a Preview Launch 1 of Microsoft’s OS/2 2 SDK, and the OS/2 Museum has a copy of the new release from December 29, 1989. Sadly, although, that could be misplaced endlessly. ®

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