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WHY A NEW OPERATING SYSTEM?
You may be hearing and reading about the new OS/2 operating system, and if so, you're probably receiving mixed messages. Early converts proclaim OS/2 to be the salvation of the computer industry, while the gadflies declare it a high-tech Edsel. Somewhere in the middle of these extremes lies the truth.
One thing is true: OS/2 is a classic example of good news and bad news. The good news is that running applications software, such as a spreadsheet or word processor, under OS/2 will give you more power and flexibility. The bad news is twofold. First, none of the software programs that you currently use are available in versions that take advantage of the power of OS/2. Second, even if such versions were available, you might need to upgrade your hardware before you could run them.
Why did IBM and Microsoft develop OS/2? What problems will OS/2 solve, and how well will it solve them? Will you need OS/2? And finally, what are the differences between using DOS and using OS/2? Read on for some answers to these important questions.
Personal computers on the market today fall into three categories that are distinguished by the type of microprocessor in the PC. The original IBM PCs, as well as many later models, contain a microprocessor called the 8088 (or a similar microchip called the 8086). DOS was designed to take advantage of the functionality of this chip. The next category of PCs, such as the IBM PC AT and the Compaq Deskpro 286, contains a more powerful microprocessor known as the 80286. The 80286 can run in either of two modes: "real" mode, where it emulates an 8088 chip, or protected, or "native," 80286 mode. DOS runs on an 80286 system in real mode. The third category of PCs is characterized by the 80386 microprocessor, a chip used in the IBM PS/2 Models 70 and 80 and the Compaq Deskpro 386. The most powerful of the microprocessors, the 80386 can emulate both an 8088 and an 80286 or run in native 80386 mode.
DOS can run on all of these chips. However, the key issue is that DOS, designed to run on the 8088, cannot exploit the additional memory and processing capabilities of the 80286 and 80386 microprocessors. The purpose of OS/2 is to provide an operating system that takes advantage of the enhanced memory and processing capabilities of the more powerful 80286 microprocessor.
Although OS/2 is an advanced operating system, it cannot make use of the full power of the 80386 chip. OS/2 runs on an 80386-based PC by making the 80386 microprocessor emulate the 80286 chip. We'll have to wait for the development of an operating system that can directly take advantage of the 80386.
What Problems Will It Solve?
If someone asked you what problems you encounter when using your current PC system, you might raise issues regarding speed, memory, and the inability to run more than one application at a time. OS/2 is specifically designed to address such concerns.
For some users, the speed issue centers on not wanting to wait during …