March 1999

Windows98 is doomed.

Well, isn't that obvious? Haven't we known for months now that Microsoft will sooner or later discontinue Windows98, relegating it to the place it so richly deserves? (That is, the dustbin of history, of course!)

But Windows98 is not just doomed by a Microsoft-generated timetable. Windows98 is doomed by a universal timetable called the calendar.

According to a recent article on the NandoTimes News website at,1643,22223-36252-265429-0,00.html,
Windows98 has failed the French government's official Year2000 testing process. The French ministry in charge of promoting marketplace competition and preventing fraud tested some Microsoft products and found several of them to be non-compliant, despite the assurances of Microsoft and the openly-displayed claim that appears on one of the Windows98 screens during installation. This seems to be classified by the French government as a case of consumer fraud, and it apparently will be prosecuted as such.

Reports of Year2000 compliance problems with WindowsNT are also circulating. Despite serious compatibility and reliability problems with SP4 (Service Pack #4), Microsoft now claims that SP4 is vital to ensure compliance. With a false show of bravado and gushing with overconfidence, they previously claimed that SP3 was sufficient to ensure Year2000 readiness. Is any of it true? Not even Microsoft knows for sure. Their designs are shoddy, their coding process is barbaric, their debugging is self-described as "triage." That means "Fix a handful of showstoppers and run the compiler again."

It has been the firm, unwavering position of this column that Microsoft operating systems will not be fully compliant and fully ready for work across the Millennium boundary. This is one of the main reasons why OS/2 Headquarters seemingly "went out on a limb" and predicted late last year that American small businesses will be deeply scarred by Y2K problems and many of them will end up in bankruptcy. I pegged the odds of that scenario at 60%. I am standing by that assessment.

In addition, this column postulated that Microsoft top management may actually cash in their chips and make a run for the border -- the Communist Chinese border. The odds of a Microsoft disappearing act were placed at 30%. Given the recent failure of Microsoft's courtroom antics in the DOJ antitrust trial, that probability is looking higher every day. Although I am tempted to increment that number to 40%, I will sit on 30% for a little while longer. Possibly an appeals court may fail to understand the importance of a free market for personal computer products and let the crooked grifters off the hook.

What should you be recommending to your customers, then, if Microsoft products are obsolete by design and doomed to a Year2000 grave? While IBM seems to have become totally absorbed in Year2000 preparation at the enterprise level, this has left the OS/2 alternative in a holding pattern. OS/2 is too good to die and too small to feed, according to the current market conditions. But this is no excuse to go on a wild-goose chase looking for something else. Certainly Linux can avoid the Y2K fiasco, but this is not the time to recommend a radical shift to a new and untested platform. With only a scant few months left in most governmental and corporate fiscal-year calendars, now is the time to push ahead with marketing OS/2 Warp 4.0 and the new OS/2 Warp Server as the ultimate Y2K solutions.

Sure, it's not politically correct to do that. Obviously a few people will snicker and roar at the suggestion. But these are the same folks who will come to your door groveling next January, begging to be added to your backlogged list of customers. These are the same people who will wonder how they could have been so narrow-minded and gullible as to believe the Rasputin of Redmond. These are the people who will go into a cold sweat sometime early next year as they realize that their entire business enterprise is on the verge of permanent collapse due to a piece of software they probably did not even pay for.

Will you show them mercy? Of course you will. OS/2 users do not gloat over the disasters that decent, normal people suffer. We only gloat over the disastrous demise of criminal enterprises that hoodwink entire nations into trusting them. We only cheer the end of despotism, corruption, and deceit.

It is quite possible that in less than twelve months, you will be impossibly busy fixing Y2K problems for your friends, your neighbors, and your customers. You may need to practice a little "triage" yourself. How will you do it? Will you focus on your elite customer base, your most prosperous friends, and your most trusted associates? Or will you choose to specialize in a particular area of expertise such as desktop publishing, accounting, or some vertical market? If you use and recommend OS/2, you will have some hard choices ahead. Now is the time to plan your response to the expected deluge of stunned, crestfallen Windows users anxious to put their computers back on course for the future. Think about it.

Your Year2000 preparation should begin right now.

Most recent revision: April 28, 1999
Copyright © 1999, Tom Nadeau
All Rights Reserved.