November 27, 1995

Hawk's flight in doubt

By Mary Jo Foley

IBM is reconsidering plans to commercially ship future versions of OS/2 for the PowerPC -- including a forthcoming Warp Server for PowerPC product, code-named Hawk, due to ship in late 1997, said sources close to the company.

The move is the latest sign that IBM, while not conceding the operating-system market to Microsoft Corp., wants to focus on its strength as a hardware and middleware provider, said IBM insiders and industry watchers.

"There are still areas where we'll compete, like the desktop, where it's Warp vs. Windows 95," said an IBM official who requested anonymity. "But it's time to quit throwing stones on the OS front. People like IBM middleware and hardware. By cooperating, both IBM and Microsoft can make money."

IBM is working more closely with Microsoft on delivering drivers for its hardware for Windows 95, said IBM officials. IBM's Software Solutions division is porting all IBM middleware, tools, and applications to a variety of operating systems, including Windows 95 and NT.

"Until now, Windows 95 was where IBM drew the line in the sand. Now, IBM is covering up the sand," said a source with a major ISV who requested anonymity.

However, IBM spokesman Joe Stunkard denied that the company has decided to shelve the PowerPC versions of OS/2. IBM remains committed to Warp on a variety of platforms, including OS/2 for the PowerPC, he said.

IBM will continue to roll out new Intel Corp.-based versions of Warp next year, including its Warp Server product in the first quarter of 1996 and Intel-based Merlin, its Warp Connect desktop follow-on, in the second quarter.

But beyond 1996, the future is less clear. "They've told the IBM developers that OS/2 for the PPC has been shelved," said an IBM insider who requested anonymity.

However, IBM still plans to ship a Warp Connect PowerPC Edition, code-named Falcon 1, just to developers before the end of 1995. The planned offering minimally satisfies IBM's promise to ship the long-delayed product. However, it will lack robust networking and device drivers, sources said.

But it is unlikely that IBM will ship any commercial versions of OS/2 for the PowerPC, claimed sources inside and outside IBM. IBM had at least two of these versions on the drawing board, including Falcon 2 (the network-enabled version of Warp Connect PowerPC Edition) and Hawk.

Hawk was slated to be IBM's main competitor to Microsoft's Cairo version of Windows NT, also due to ship in 1997. However, IBM has halted all work on Hawk, sources said.

Among the features Hawk was expected to include were a journaling file system, application-level security, four-way symmetric multiprocessing, systems-management support, and SOM (System Object Model) 3.0 support. SOM 3.0, a forthcoming version of IBM's object architecture, is slated to incorporate Taligent Inc.'s CommonPoint framework technology, sources said.

One customer said IBM should stick to its strengths in service and support and mini and mainframe servers, rather than pour money into new versions of OS/2. "OS/2 used to be a better operating system than DOS or Windows. But there were no apps. And new platforms don't help me a lot," said Andy Hughes, manager of information services with Mississippi Chemical Corp., in Yazoo City, Miss. "We use Windows and AS/400s, and are getting ready to install NT Server. If IBM were to provide service across all these platforms, that would be more interesting to me, since service is more IBM's strong suit than it is Microsoft's."

IBM's Hawk Server on Hold?

Hawk Feature Set:

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