19 July 2005 IBM is to end sales of the last two remaining products of the OS/2 family in 2006, marking the final chapter of the turbulent history of its operating system that was meant to rival Microsoft’s Windows.
IBM confirmed that the withdrawal of the OS/2 Warp 4 and OS/2 Warp Server range will be effective from 23 December 2006. Continuing support will be available on a service contract basis.
Although a number of mission-critical systems are still running on the OS/2 operating system, IBM is encouraging remaining customers to migrate to the Linux platform.
IBM initially built its first 32-bit Intel-based multitasking operating system, designed for PCs, in conjunction with Microsoft. Indeed most market watchers believed it offered better performance than early versions of Windows.
But the partnership soon dissolved, and the Microsoft went on to dominate to PC market with its Windows 3x and 95 versions of its operating system.
The battle between the operating systems has only recently ended. Following a US court ruling that IBM’s OS/2 had been adversely impacted by Microsoft’s unfair business practices, Microsoft eventually reached agreement to pay IBM $850 million.
The demise of the OS/2 brand is hardly unexpected: IBM has not released new versions for nine years. But the decision is a poignant end to IBM’s involvement in the PC business it helped create. Earlier this year, IBM sold off its PC manufacturing business to Chinese company Lenovo.