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IBM to bury OS/2

Big Blue will discontinue the operating system at year's end. It marks an end of an era for IBM, whose OS struggled in Windows' shadow.

IBM will stop selling the OS/2 operating system at year's end, marking an end of an era for Big Blue.

IBM, which made the announcement this week, said it will discontinue OS/2 products by Dec. 23 and withdraw standard support for OS/2-related products as of Dec. 31, 2006.

Support for OS/2 will only be available under a service contract after 2006.

"We're making official what has been going on for quite some time," said Steve Eisenstadt, an IBM spokesman. "We haven't released a new version of OS/2 in nine years."

Big Blue is directing its OS/2 customers to switch to the Linux OS.

OS/2, which debuted in April 1987, struggled to gain the wide acceptance that Microsoft's Windows enjoyed. While OS/2 may have been considered technically superior to Microsoft's early versions of Windows, the operating system failed to prosper due to a lack of applications written for it.

Concerns about the future of OS/2 arose at least three years ago.

OS/2, which was the first Intel-based 32-bit multitasking operating system aimed at the PC market, currently has fewer than 80 customers that hold more than 10 licenses, Eisenstadt said.