back to article MeeGo and the Great Betrayal Myths of tech history

Nokia's first MeeGo phone is amazing - why did they chuck MeeGo away? So say Linux fanbois distraught after Stephen Elop turned Nokia's future platform into a rolling skunkworks project. They've started a petition. It's got 287 signatories. "Reality denial" doesn't even begin to sum it up. The N9 does look quite slick, …

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OS/2

I always had the feeling OS/2 failed as much on memory requirements than on apps.

Microsoft hasn't inserted two other Windows lines (16-bit Windows 3.x and 16/32 hybrid Windows 9x) before OS/2's sister NT was made the only Windows version.

In short, OS/2 was too early, and IBM didn't have a decent transition horse.

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Beat me to it ...

Yes, one of the reasons OS/2 failed was that it was too advanced for the time and the then current hardware wasn't up to running it. This made it an expensive option back in the days when RAM was still often measured by the 1/4MByte (256kbyte) ! Never mind that so many Windows boxes were run with so little ram that they thrashed swap most of the time.

Another tiny detail is that at the time MS had their illegal contracts in place that meant if you bought a PC then it came with Windows wether you liked it or not, and so OS/2 was an *extra* purchase, not an alternative purchase.

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Illegal contracts?

Astute business sense I think.

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OS/2 failed as a mass-market OS because ...

IBM chose not to roll the Windows 3.0 API into it ... *probably* because Apple had a hissy-fit at the very idea. Am I the only one who remembers Taligent and Pink? The concept of Apple and IBM dating sounds daft these days, but back in the late eighties ...

As a side-note, OS/2 isn't actually dead. I still use it in some places. See:

http://ecomstation.com/

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: OS/2

OS/2 developer kits were £3,000 - Microsoft practically gave the Windows dev tools away.

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Big Brother

Countering the Ministry of Truth

Back in 1989 The _Microsoft_ OS/2 2.0 developer kit was $2600. That was the official dev kit for both the IBM and Microsoft developer community.

In 1990, just before the 'divorce' MS was still encouraging developers to target OS/2 2.x and showing previews of OS/2 NT [written in C instead of assembler was it's big feature]. WordPerfect was one of the companies caught in the trap, investing in a native OS/2 version.

In 1991, IBM's OS/2 developer kit was part of a $100 / year annual subscription - and several third party compilers were released.

In 1992 Microsoft's version of OS/2 still had the old program manager / file manager interface, looking just like Windows 2.1 or MS OS/2 1.2

Also in 1992, IBM released their OS/2 2.0 [on 26 floppies] featuring the document oriented 'Workplace Shell'

In 1993 Microsoft renamed the OS/2 3.0 project to Windows NT, and also stated it was a fashionable 'microkernal' based OS. The promise of multiple API personalities had Bill the Gates proclaim "NT is UNIX, in six months it will be the most popular UNIX'. Needless to say, NT was not and is not UNIX [even the fossil POSIX subset api layer has been deleted]

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: Countering the Ministry of Truth

There's little point in posting incorrect dates and facts when you can check them on Google in a couple of seconds.

"In 1992 Microsoft's version of OS/2 still had the old program manager / file manager interface, looking just like Windows 2.1 or MS OS/2 1.2"

Microsoft was still selling the old 16-bit OS/2 Lan Manager and would continue to sell it well into the mid-90s. Relevance?

"In 1993 Microsoft renamed the OS/2 3.0 project to Windows NT"

Nope. See InfoWorld January 21 1991:

"Microsoft is preparing to announce a 32-bit version of the Windows package - one that will obviate the need for OS/2 for many users... Microsoft said last fall the first completely 32-bit version of OS/2, which has alternately called 3.X and 'NT' (for New Technology) would run Windows applications"

and InfoWorld July 8 1991:

"Microsoft has veered away from OS/2 and will ship next year Windows NT, its 32-bit New Technology operating system, with only Windows and DOS programming interfaces, the company confirmed last week. The company began shifting gears on its committment to OS/2 last summer on the heels of the explosive growth of Windows 3.0. Previously, Microsoft said the New Technology (NT) kernel would be the core component of OS/2 3.0 - a pure 32-bit version of OS/2 that would run code written for DOS, 16- and 32-bit Windows, and 16- and 32-bit OS/2...

... in January, Microsoft broadly hinted it was leaning toward abandoning its OS/2 path"

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FAIL

Re: Re: OS/2

Typical. Absobloodylutely typical.

Insane pricing, ensuring that early adopters and evaluators were put off, was one of the most significant nails in the coffin of OS/2. When it originally shipped, it cost an arm and a leg as desktop OS's went at the time. Then you found out that Presentation Manager (the GUI) was an "optional extra" that cost more than the core OS did. If you jumped that hurdle you then found that, if you wanted it to talk to anything else, Comms Manager was also required.........

Many did what I did. I lobbed the copy we bought for evaluation into the bin when I found how much extra wonga was required to convert "DOS that doesn't work" into "candidate future GUI desktop OS". If it hadn't been for that, being an IBM shop I reckon we might have taken the OS/2 route. As it was we ended up going GUI with Win 3 like everyone else.

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To much of a hog.

to advanced for the time' equates with badly written to run on machines of that time it was designed for. Other manufacturers ran GUI OS's just fine on machines with little ram.

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fch

as much as I like someone countering the ministry ...

... counter them correctly please.

OS/2 2.0 didn't come on 26 floppies - it came on two. As did the compiler / IDE. I still have those, though I've got no idea whether they're still readable, nor haven't owned a floppy drive for over half a decade. If anyone collects, pls contact me.

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fch

OS/2 developer kit prices ...

... were slashed with OS/2 2.0; the 3k figure might've been the case for the 1.x releases (they used MS C, which even for Windows had a four-figure pricetag at the time). I bought the whole set (OS/2 2.0, IBM compiler / workbench IDE) for about 400 DM in 1992. Maybe some components were missing in that I don't remember; it was cheaper than a Win3.1 plus MS Quick C license at that time, so became best choice for the fresher I was then.

Well, till Linux changed the picture a few months later. Could've saved myself the 400 Mark had I known. Hindsight's 20:20 ;-)

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Title

Yeah but at least you could format floppy disks all day while still being able to use the machine!

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Silver badge

The short version

IBM was getting stiffed by Microsoft for years before the split: IBM stupidly paid Microsoft to develop OS/2 for them and tried to marry it to the PS/2 line for too long. Despite the undoubted technical superiority of the microchannel architecture it was as much this strategy as anything else that put people off OS/2. In the medium term the customer lost out with the crappy VESA local bus but it was so cheap and we got sucked into the Wintel spiral of despair.

Memory requirements, providing you were running the unfortunately single-threaded Presentation Manager, weren't that bad and you pre-emptive multitasking, a fast file system with support for extensible metadata and peripheral sharing and a kernel you couldn't kill. This is why OS/2 was used in all kinds of embedded devices such as UPS tracking pads. The banks loved it, of course, because it had wonderful terminal emulation. Later on it ran Windows better than Windows - virtual machines known as DOS boxes with more memory than DOS could handle on it's own but this just encouraged more Windows development.

I do remember Lou Gerstner saying something* like he thought OS/2 could win the wars but it wasn't worth the cost. IBM then concentrated on making more money from Windows than Microsoft and bought Lotus and others. The companies who stuck with OS/2 seemed to have to spend less on system upgrades over the next ten years because they were able to do so much with the hardware.

* Source OS/2 Inside, I think.

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[on 26 floppies]

Prior to one release of OS/2 the MS dirty tricks department went to the floppy disk manufacturers and bought the complete next 6 months production. They had warehouses full of floppys for years afterwards but it created shortages of OS/2 that massively hurt sales.

Later OS/2 incorporated a version of Windows 3.x. IBM had royalty free rights to do this, but only for shipping versions of Windows. IBM was restricted by anti-trust to pre-announce no more than 3 months ahead.

MS announced Windows 3.1 (or 3.11 I forget which) would be available on a certain date. IBM built this into OS/2 and announced it. MS held up shipping until the 3 months had elapsed. IBM had to ship OS/2 and had to revert to the old version or Windows. MS shipped the new one, job done.

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Stop

MS bought the world floppy production for 6months

[reference needed]

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Seriously?

I'd never heard that trick with buying up the floppy disks. I can't find any reference to it on google?

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: MS bought the world floppy production for 6months

They also bought up every use of the number "2" for a year - which hit OS/_ and PS/_ and the 199_ Barcelona Olympics very hard.

No, really.

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Anonymous Coward

That is what they were convicted of

MS was convicted of illegal business practices

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Silver badge

It's all pretty much irrelevant now

Meego might or might not have run a set of amazing smartphones - however it is really aimed at the generic smart device market rather than specifically phones. There are quite a few Meego devices, most of them go inside cars.

Symbian did run a lot of good smartphones and featurephones.

Symbian is dead and buried, Meego lives on at Intel.

Windows Phone 7 was very nearly dead in the water before it even launched due to the association with Windows Mobile 6.x, and has received several cuts due to apparent MS incompetence. (I say 'apparent' because it's quite likely much of that is down to the operators rather than MS directly.)

So really, Nokia are on an extremely-high-risk path - for Nokia to survive, both MS and Nokia have to get their act together quickly enough to produce some feature-rich and *perfect* WP7 phones before the customers all move elsewhere.

If there is any smell of the Windows Mobile problems there at all, Nokia will fail.

If they fail to integrate perfectly with Outlook and IMAP, Nokia will fail. (Oh dear - WP7 currently doesn't sync to Outlook....)

However, if WP7 fails, Microsoft won't.

That's the basic problem here - Nokia have tied themselves to a brand-new, unproven ship made by a company with a history of ships that sink. Unfortuantely for Nokia, the captain of that new ship doesn't really care all that much, and is very well insured should it sink.

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FAIL

WTF?

WP7 does sync with Outlook. Using either Exchange or Windows Live.

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WTF!

Not everyone uses Outlook with Exchange/Live. Hence WP7 doesn't sync with Outlook. It does sync with some Mail servers that Outlook syncs with.

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Silver badge

Exactly!

There's a lot of people who use the Outlook client with a generic POP3 mailserver. Everything aside from email only exists on their computer - no contacts etc.

A lot of those don't have a Windows Live account and don't want to have one associated with their email - they just want their phone to sync to their Outlook.

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Not syncing with Outlook

So a lot like Android then - where you have to rely on your hardware manufacturer doing a decent job with their own conversion software (which fortunately for me HTC does) or also like Palm/HP WebOS

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FAIL

Shambles

The whole MeeGo development thing was a shambles. Effectively, Nokia didn't announce any new high-end smartphones for the best part of two years because they ditched the N900's Maemo platform just when it was becoming viable, in order to dick around with Intel.

You can't sit around tinkering for two years while your competitors are busy creating products.

And remember, although the N9 has been "announced" there's no projected availability date which is never a good sign. It could be December for all we know..

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Shambles

"The whole MeeGo development thing was a shambles. Effectively, Nokia didn't announce any new high-end smartphones for the best part of two years because they ditched the N900's Maemo platform just when it was becoming viable, in order to dick around with Intel."

But the latest N9 stuff is Maemo-based with different UI technology from classic Maemo, so ranting about MeeGo isn't completely justified, even though people probably did get drawn away from the Maemo stuff to work on different user interfaces.

And Nokia had plenty of opportunities to make mass-market Maemo models: they either squabbled or dragged their feet, or kept Maemo a playground for too long. If you don't get a project out of the door, there's a real risk it'll never get out of the door - that lesson is one of many not really being learned by Nokia.

But the blame can't really land in the lap of the MeeGo project. After all, corporations ought to be able to have more than one iron in the fire: we're not talking about a couple of blokes, you know.

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Anonymous Coward

this has the makings

of an interesting and well-argued article.

Do let us know when you've finished it.

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This post has been deleted by a moderator

Anonymous Coward

But what about

Intel? have they bailed out of Meego? Or is it just that they are being half-hearted about it or perhaps don't have the clout in the mobile space (almost certainly true, given that Atom is the entirety of their strategy there).

"[Linux] attracts some noisy people who are naturally disposed to Being Right, And Morally Superior"

I'll say it does. I think some people need to just accept that they actually like being marginalised and then they stop finding other explanations (such as Betrayal Myths) for self-justification and to appease their egos.

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doomed from the start

Meego was, and is, doomed from the start... First, it's brought to you by Intel, a complete nobody in the world of owning any software ecosystem above the BIOS and drivers. Second, the marketing messages are confusing-- it's Moblin, it's Meego, it's a phone OS, it's a car OS, it's a netbook OS, it's a tablet OS, and all work harmoniously.... riiight. And last, pissing off both Microsoft AND Google was not the best idea for a software wannabe.

As for Intel bailing? Nope. Bailing would mean some VPs at Intel would have to admit they were wrong. Never happens at Intel, because being wrong means getting fired. Think of Meego as job preservation. As long as the responsible parties can keep their bosses eating the Meego dog food, they survive.

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Announced but not available

http://europe.nokia.com/find-products/devices/nokia-n9/check-availability

No UK or US. Rumours abound that it's being kept down to not damage potential WP7 sales.

Typical Nokia management decision-making.

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Linux

Makes me wonder....

...why they bothered announcing it then, unless it's a plan from an internal breakaway group to spite Elop.

I'd like to see one to play with it, but unless it is possible to modify it using tools available to an external community then it won't be worth it as clearly Elop won't allow Nokia to keep enhancing it.

I bet it would have a niche for BOFHs who like to be ssh'd into half a dozen systems while going to watch the rugby....

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Holmes

Indeed

The 6 countries allegedly getting Nokia WP devices at launch are absent from the N9 availability list.

I have no comment to make about "great mythic betrayals", but this ought to be good for the conspiracy addicts to play with....

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Hahahaha!!!

Priceless! Nice one, Squire.

(Well. I could get one in Finland. Maybe, if available. Unless it's been made just as part of a redundancy package for the 1,400 to be kicked out of Nokia here*. Which, given it's strangulation at birth, is about as many as I'd expect to be sold).

http://www.yle.fi/uutiset/news/2011/06/nokia_staff_cuts_confirmed_-_1400_out_in_finland_2680043.html

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Thumb Up

You can modify it.

The devkit is already available for download.

(Or just run gcc and vim on the device).

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Anonymous Coward

Am I the only one

...who knows that you can run pretty much any android app on Meego through alien Dalvik? THe ecosystem is already there for this OS, it can piggy-back on the existing Android ecosystem.

I would agree that there would be some considerable catching up to do if it were an entirely free-standing OS but it's not, it's another Linux kernel based lightweight OS.

I wouldn't be surprised to see a few manufacturers dipping their toes in the Meego waters over the next year or two.

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I think you are...

Put the Intel crack pipe down... walk away.

Yes, you are the only one. many of the APIs will work, but not all. But most importantly, a huge % of apps on android are either mash-ups or use cloud services from (wait for it...) Google. Remember maps? Y'all need a license from google for an API key. And surprise! Google won't provide the services to any version they don't endorse. And they don't endorse Android on Meego.

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Linux

Alien Dalvik promised for the N9

http://www.slashgear.com/nokia-n9-android-app-support-promised-with-alien-dalvik-22160809/

"Seemless integration" of Android apps in the N9 UI...

Plus Qt apps which run unchanged on MeeGo and the tens of millions of Symbian and soon hundreds of millions of S40 devices.

Orlowski is wrong. It's not about developing for MeeGo, never has been, it's about developing for Qt, which is also available for Android, WebOS and QNX/Playbook.

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Silver badge

"Y'all need a license from google for an API key."

For the app, yes. The developer signs that, not the hardware manufacturer nor the OS vendor.

http://code.google.com/apis/maps/signup.html

Nowhere in there do I see "you can use this on Android, but not on Meego, and definitely not on iOS or that Microsoft thing." Now, if you were on about Android Market or the Maps app (as opposed to API), then yes I would agree. Google would be most upset about those things running anywhere other than approved platforms. However, nothing there stops developers releasing their own apps for Ovi, Bada, Amazon App Store or whatever else they like.

The whole point of Google's APIs is that anybody on any platform can access them, shirley?

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Happy

Api

I think the comment on apis are referring to the internal/ android/ java apis presented for use in android apps by the Google apps, like the android maps application.

use (actually, installation) of these is only permitted on endorsed devices. These aren't the web ones.

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only your kind of nostalgia permitted...

Jeez, what is the point of this piece...

Given a neverending stream of narrow-minded rose tinted nostalgia consciousness - any craptacular psion just gets the drool going...

Why so hard on other Canutes?

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well,

I thought it was quite clever. It got the whole 'bad drives out good' thing going without saying 'betamax'.

And the idea that the critical ecosystem is not ten thousand fart apps but support from Disney and Sony music had not occured to me (I'm not a 'content' junkie)

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Happy

you forgot Amiga

Maybe there will be a Commodore phone someday.

I actually have an Intel classmate netbook, and I hunted down a MeeGo image for it, copied it to a USB drive, booted it, and then said "Why ? I already have Ubuntu on this thing, I need another linux like I need a spare..."

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Thumb Up

So we can get mobile guru meditation errors?

thumbs up to a system that can make you smile at a system error message

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*nix is almost as silly with its messages.

"You don't exist. Go away."

Seriously?

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Happy

Re: *nix is almost as silly with its messages

Never got that one. I did see someone so irate at Cyber-NOS that he typed in the command

> F**k off

which got the reply:

Task not in system

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WTF?

George 3

12.13.22 _ AB GOD

ERROR IN AB IN MOP: GOD DOES NOT EXIST

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Silver badge

HCF

Halt and Catch Fire.

Or the ever popular "You should never see this error."

Similarly, I looked at the clock this afternoon & it reported "4:04" ... My brain immediately interpreted that as "time not found" ... Nice temporary personal "WTF?" moment :-)

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Stop

Don't write Meego off yet.....

I agree with a lot that is written in this article but I still say it's to early to write off Meego yet.

There is a good business reason why key players need alternatives to IOS and Andriod. Manufacturers of handsets need to offer differentiation in their products, otherwise they will make no money, except Apple.

The network operators also need to have alternatives to the Apple and Google ecosystems that relegate them to bit pipe's with little value add or differentiation.

A true Open source platform like Meego could be the answer to these real business needs that powerful industry players have.

Finally the assumption is that the ISV community are as deeply committed and tied to IOS or Android as they were to Windows in the 90's. That is not the case. It is now a lot easier to move from platform to platform and emerging standards like HTML5 are likely to become the de-facto cross platform development environment. So all your client device will need is a good web browser.

This won't change anything in the short term. IOS and Android will continue to dominate. But I wouldn't be surprised if Meego makes a come back in a year or two.

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Boffin

Ah, the OS/2 comparision

Was wondering when someone would bring that up.

Died of lack of support, lack of apps.

Well, there is a major difference, two actually.

1.) Distribution of software.

Back in the 'ol days you swapped disks. Only kid on the block with a weird system? Yeah, pretty screwed.

Nowadays you download apps, a dime a dozen. Samsung doesnt seem to have any plans to ditch Bada. Niche systems have a better chance of survival in a connected world.

2.) Developers.

No one in their right mind would invest time to learn to develop for a phone which may well be last of its kind. What do they use? Something weird called Qt, not worth learning.

Not worth being to compile for Symbian, another dying plattform, no promise to support that beyond 2016 from Nokia.

WebOS? Hmm, come on, just a couple of devices as well and the Android port of Qt is far from finished.

Ubuntu or other Linux systems? Come on, those freetards wouldnt spend any money on software anyway.

Windows or OSX? Seriously, you havent noticed we're in the "post-PC"-era yet?

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automotive

Meego looks to be the flavour of Linux that the automotive world will adopt. This alone puts it in the picture for many years to come. Intel and the Genivi consortium are backing it, and the signs look good - Intel needs a market for Atom, Automotive plays to their strengths, or rather forgives their weaknesses (i.e. standby power). It has a rich uncle.

Therefore I predict that Meego will set a standard for robust, secure Linux computing, slightly behind-the-times, but perfect for industrial applications. Furthermore, that support will be available for dozens of years because of the automotive/industrial installed base.

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