In reply to OS/2 hate mail
In response to your (Brian Clegg) reply to Charles Hopkinson (PC Week 26 November), I think that it is fair to say it is you who are a little too close to Windows 95 to question its shortcomings.
(Brian Clegg) But I wasn't reviewing Win95 - why should I be talking about its shortcomings?
I read your review last week and was astounded. It was not fair. It was not accurate. I use WindowsNT, Windows95 and OS/2 every day. I found it quite understandable that people complain to you about such articles/reviews.
It is difficult to understand why you seem so eager to put down a perfectly good product. The fact that it isn't in as widespread useage as Windows95 is irrelevant: comparisons with NT aren't quite so clear cut.
(BC) Are you really suggesting that it's not a disadvantage to be using a minority product now on the decline? I was in my time a Betamax and an Amiga user, both more technically advanced than their competition, but I still wouldn't have recommended anyone else to use them by the time they were obviously on the wane. The purpose of the PC Week review is to suggest a sensible approach to products for corporates, not to recommend something because it's technically great but strategically risky. Ask a company like British Airways, a long term OS/2 user, why it is moving away from OS/2.
Honestly, Brian, if you don't recognise that you're not presenting a balanced view of a product then carry on, by all means.
(BC) If by "being balanced" you mean pseudo-objectivity, we've never claimed that for the PC Week review. It has always been intended to be a subjective, informed opinion - if you like, the Barry Norman school of reviewing.
But don't besurprised when other people who are knowledgeable about OS/2 (in my experience most of them also have a lot of experience of the Windows family of products), get annoyed by what you write. Some of them like OS/2 and prefer it to Windows95. Not just because of misplaced OS snobbery, but because OS/2 is a tremendously innovative product: MS obviously thought so since it copied large chunks of the OS/2 user interface when developing Chicago.
(BC) They certainly did copy some, though they made it look better.
They also copied several other user interfaces. But then, as Picasso said, good artists copy, great artists steal. Many of them, however, make their living from OS/2 development. Many companies would be far better served by OS/2 than WindowsNT (there are good operational reasons for this - management of a large user base is but one). I work in a Microsoft shop, as you probably know, but have no illusions about this.
If I depended on OS/2 for making a living I would be very annoyed about your rather one-sided coverage. It kills sales that would otherwise be made. We have seen poor products dominate the market before (DOS over the Mac or RiscOS 2/3, for example), largely because of this follow-the-flock mentality.
(BC) Is it follow the flock, or is it don't waste time crying over spilt milk, get on with the real business of computers which is applications, not operating systems?
It hasn't done the industry any favours at all. Nor has it done much for public perception of this business: the vast majority of people don't have and don't want a computer of any description.
(BC) A doubtful statement (where's the basis for this "balanced view"?).
I don't really follow the argument that using a popular OS, rather than an obscure one, has done the public perception of this business harm.
So yes, people will get worked up about this issue. Making a living (and being professional) are extremely important to a large number of people out there. I would hope you might appreciate this to be true. Or perhaps, as a journalist, you're a little bit too far removed from the real world. Just think about it for a moment before you encourage your next round of hate mail.
(BC) IT journalism is unusual in that many of us aren't journalists in the traditional sense. I have worked in IT since 1977 and continue to do so - the journalism is a sideline. I was very enthusiastic about OS/2 in the early days and even spoke at the first OS/2 User Group in support of it, but there comes a point to cut your losses. I don't think encouraging corporates to send bad money after good is particularly professional.
Let's have some accurate and balanced reviews, please. Not the jaundiced rubbish that you wrote the other week. I'd rather not feel it necessary to write to you at all: it would be nice to be able to trust your articles about other products. Unfortunately, until I see evidence that you are capable of writing accurately and reliably, then I have to take everything that you say in your articles (whatever the subject) with an extremely large block of salt. Be critical of those things that are there to be critical of (there are many such things with any product, including OS/2).
Making it up isn't really required. Nor is indulging yourself at your reader's expense (in terms of both time and money).
(BC) What really fascinates me here is that through this entire Email (and the original published in PC Week) there is not a single specific example of my inaccuracy/unreliability/making things up. What was actually incorrect, in your view?
There is life after Microsoft
The editorial in the US edition of PC Week says the Apache Web server has around 40% of the market and lots of corporates are running their Web sites on top of free operating systems such as Linux and Free BSD.
It reckons that these technologies are worth looking at. Their technical VP Bill McChrone supports the position.
Why is it that your journal doesn't recognise there is software outside Microsoft? In your last issue the article on building a Web server admits only two possibilities, IIS on NT. The last set of figures I saw gives this combination about 4.5% of the market, well behind Apple solutions and even further behind Unix solutions.
Please let us have some balance in the reporting and don't become yet another Microsoft house journal.
The Editor replies: OK. We won't.
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