OS/2 Warp FAQ List (20 Feb 95) Section 0101

(1.1) What is OS/2 Warp?

What is OS/2 Warp?

OS/2 Warp is an advanced operating system for PCs with an 80386 processor or better. It was developed by IBM as the successor to DOS, the operating system developed for the original IBM PC.

OS/2 started as a joint project between IBM and Microsoft in the mid 1980s and was first released in late 1987 (at that time designed for the IBM PC/AT and other 80286-based systems). Microsoft was a public and vocal supporter of OS/2 for years, issuing several of its own releases and promoting OS/2 application development. Bill Gates, for example, stated that, "...OS/2 is the platform of the '90s." However, OS/2 versions from 1.3 onward have been the responsibility of IBM.

OS/2 Warp was designed from the ground up with preemptive multitasking and multithreading in mind. "Preemptive multitasking" means that the operating system is responsible for allocating processor time to the one or more applications which are running. (Cooperative multitasking, as found in Microsoft Windows or the Macintosh's System 7, requires that each application surrender the processor after a certain amount of time. If one application refuses to yield, all the other applications stop running.) "Multithreading" means that programs can start subtasks which will then be executed by the operating system in the background. For example, a word processor may create a separate thread (subtask) to handle printing or saving to disk. When the user asks the word processor to perform one of these tasks, the word processor creates a new thread and control returns to the word processor (and the user) immediately. The subtask is executed by the operating system in the background. The user is then free to ask the word processor to perform another task without waiting for the thread to complete. Applications which utilitize multithreading can be much more responsive to the user.

OS/2 Warp also protects applications from one another (a single misbehaved program will not typically disrupt the entire system), supports all addressable physical RAM, and supplies virtual memory to applications as requested, breaking DOS's 640K barrier.

An OS/2 Warp demonstration diskette (which will run on any PC with VGA or better, and DOS or OS/2) is available from IBM by calling 800-3-IBM-OS2. The OS/2 Warp demo diskette may also be downloaded; see (3.2) Shareware and Freeware Sources.

Related information:

(1.2)  Differences Between Versions
(1.3)  DOS and Windows Compatibility
(1.6)  Why Choose OS/2 Warp?
(3.2)  Shareware and Freeware Sources
(3.10) Extended Services
(6.3)  What is IBM?

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