Microsoft’s 1987 OS/2 Videos

The site has been finally expanded to include videos of presentations given at Microsoft OS/2 developer conferences held in 1987, a quarter of a century ago. These videos are of historical interest as they show Microsoft’s product plans as they existed at a time (e.g. Steve Ballmer touting the advantages of OS/2). There is naturally a wealth of technical information as well, although that is less historically significant.

Windows buffs may also find some of the presentation interesting, as they show Windows 2.0 several months before the product became available. The reason why a conference targeted at OS/2 developers showed Windows at all was simple: In mid-1987, the upcoming Windows 2.0 was a prototype of the OS/2 GUI, called the Windows Presentation Manager at the time. While Windows 2.0 was more or less complete, OS/2 Presentation Manager was still more than half a year from the first beta.

In fact the Microsoft OS/2 SDK included copies of Windows 1.x and 2.0 so that developers could start wrapping their heads around the new concepts of GUI programming, and do so more than a year before the OS/2 Presentation Manager shipped.

This is all a bit of an experiment. The videos are in HTML 5 format (H.264/WebM), designed to work with modern browsers. This was not a viable option a few years ago, but now it finally ought to be.

There is currently a Flash fallback, but this should be used only as the very last resort as it loads the entire video file before it starts playing. On the other hand, the videos are accessible on at least some mobile platforms such as the iPhone/iPad without any trouble.

The original intent was to use the “metadata” preload option for the HTML 5 videos, but this causes the entire file to be preloaded in Safari on OS X (though not on iOS!), therefore preloading was disabled. The videos are all presented on a single page, as they form a single coherent set. This was tested with current versions of Firefox, Safari, and Internet Explorer and found not to cause any problems.

Still pending is the addition of the (scanned) presentation slides in PDF format. Conference attendees received two large ring binders containing hardcopies of all presentation slides with ample space for taking notes; all the slides are shown in the videos. The scans should be available in a few weeks.

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