Fare thee well, goodnight, and goodbye to my friend, OS/2

The Register: IBM has finally brought the Great Rebellion [OS/2] to a close.
The Register was the only online obituary that mentioned eComStation, a third-party OS/2 derivative that everyone forgets about. Interestingly, the product literature never mentions OS/2 by name, only bragging about its technology licensed from IBM.

The Reg also talked about OS/2 version 3 being positioned as a gamer’s OS. Maybe that’s ironic, coming from the suits at IBM, and that wasn’t how I saw it–I switched from Windows 3.1 to OS/2 because, coming from an Amiga, I was used to being able to multitask freely without a lot of crashes. Windows 3.1 crashed pretty much every day if I tried to do that. OS/2 knocked that number down to about once a year, and usually those lockups happened when I was running Windows apps.

Even though I never really thought of it that way, OS/2 was great for games. Since it used virtual DOS machines, each environment had its own memory management, so you could fine-tune it and avoid shuffling around boot disks or struggling to master the DOS 6.0 boot menus. Pretty much no matter what you did, you got 600K or more of conventional memory to work with, and with some fine-tuning, you could bring that total much higher than you could usually attain with DOS. Since 600K was almost always adequate, most games just ran, no sweat.

The other thing I remember is the speed at which DOS games ran. Generally, running it under OS/2 gained you a speed grade. A game running under OS/2 on a DX2/50 felt like a DX2/66 running under DOS would feel. An OS/2 wizard could usually squeeze yet more performance out of the game with some tweaking.

I have fond memories of playing Railroad Tycoon, Civilization, and Tony LaRussa Baseball 2 on my Compaq 486 running OS/2 v3.

And there was another really nice thing about OS/2. When I bought a shiny new Pentium-75 motherboard and CPU and a new case, I pulled the hard drive out of the Compaq and dropped it into the Pentium. It just worked. All I had to do was load drivers for my new video card, since it used a different chipset than my 486.

And the cult of OS/2 won’t go away just yet. The talk over at os2voice.org has me almost ready to install OS/2 again.

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