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IBM's Microkernal

The Wall Street Journal, October 31, 1995, p. B6. 

IBM Announces New Software Code That Is Universal

By Laurie Hays

International Business Machines Corp., in its effort to reduce
the importance of computer-operating systems, announced a new
kind of universal-software code called Microkernal that
enables software to work on incompatible hardware.

For software developers and businesses that want to develop
one set of codes to run applications on many different
machines, Microkernal offers an opportunity for the
long-touted open computing. A big challenge remains, however:
to market the technology and make a business case for software
developers to write for Microkernal in a world that is
dominated by Intel Corp. and Microsoft Corp.

"It's exciting technology, but it will be hard for them to
market," says Dan Kuznetsky, an analyst with International
Data Corp., a Framingham, Mass., market-research firm. "It's
also got a long way to go from what they've announced to the

Mr. Kuznetsky likens the technology to the development of a
great automobile transmission that has yet to be turned into
a truck or a car.

The key to Microkernal is a single source code base that
communicates between the hardware and the operating system.
One long-term possibility, for example, would be to make the
Apple Computer Inc.'s Maclntosh operating system work on an
Intel PC, impossible today because the two have different
design architectures that don't talk to each other.

IBM's delayed OS/2 operating system for the PowerPC chip,
which is expected to be shipped by the end of the year, will
be the first IBM offering for the Microkernal allowing
developers to move applications to the chip with only small

IBM so far has garnered a number of licensing agreements for
Microkernal, including Digital Equipment Corp., Maynard,
Mass., and LG Electronics, formerly the Korean electronics
concern Goldstar, as well as a number of universities.