OS/2: Coulda, woulda, shoulda
So IBM finally decided to kill off OS/2. What a surprise! As a colleague put it to me, it's like your mother-in-law dying and you decide to leave the body in the recliner for 10 years instead of dealing with the cadaver.
Oddly enough, OS/2 was a better product than Windows when it first came off the line. For a time IBM even had Microsoft's development cooperation. But Microsoft's attentions soon shifted to Windows as the product's popularity climbed. Microsoft eventually unleashed its full marketing fury against OS/2 in what came to be known as the operating system wars.
This was during the pre-Gerstner era, mind you, and Big Blue had no idea how to battle back. By the middle of the 1990s, the struggle was over in all but name with OS/2 reduced to the status of expensive albatross.
Would the outcome have been any different had Lou Gerstner been running the show instead of John Akers? My guess is that Big Lou would never have made the investment. IBM was inviting a collision with Microsoft on what basically was Microsoft's home turf. You won't see that ever again. It was an expensive lesson -- but a lesson learned nonetheless.Charles is an executive editor with CNET News. He has covered technology and business for more than 25 years. A graduate of Queens College and Columbia University, Cooper began his career in journalism at the Associated Press before moving to technology coverage. Before joining CNET News, he worked at Computer & Software News , Computer Shopper , PC Week , and ZDNet. He received the Excellence in Journalism award from the Northern California branch of the Society for Professional Journalists for column writing. In addition to his blogging and podcast appearances, he is a co-host of the CNET News Daily Debrief. E-mail Charlie .