IBM to skip bundling OS/2 on new portables

The IBM PC company has decided not to include its Select a System software, which allows users to easily flip back and forth between OS/2 Warp and Windows 3.1, or automatically bundle OS/2 Warp on its new ThinkPad 760 and 365 portables, to be announced this week.

Although the company will continue offering OS/2 Warp and Select a System on its existing line of portables, sources close to the company say the decision not to bundle the 32-bit operating system on the new ThinkPads is a test run and might be foreshadowing that the company will not be bundling OS/2 Warp across the rest of the portable line.

Although IBM officials say the move won't have a negative impact on sales of OS/2 Warp, some observers see it putting a crimp in sales for the year, especially if the company decides not to bundle the OS across the line.

"Unfortunately that could be a step back for OS/2," says David Card, software analyst with International Data, in Mountain View, California. "[Customers with] orders for portables will likely want Windows 95."

The IBM PC company will continue to offer OS/2 Warp and Select a System on its latest ThinkPad 760s, but users will have to request it by loading an image of the software from a CD-ROM and then calling the company for a key to unlock it.

The company will continue bundling OS/2 Warp and its Select a System software on its desktop systems.

Of the 5.4 million copies of OS/2 Warp IBM sold in 1995, about 2.1 million copies were pre-loaded on server, desktop, and portable systems from the IBM PC Co., with 2.2 million sold through retail channels and another 1.1 million pre-loaded on the systems of other hardware makers.

Because most sales of OS/2 Warp are generated by users specifically requesting the product, the decision not to automatically bundle the operating system will not have any impact, company officials contend.

One observer says IBM is thinking about only offering OS/2 and Select a System optionally, because it is looking for ways to free up more disk space on portables for other software, such as Lotus's SmartSuite 96.

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