IBM TopView

IBM TopView

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IBM was notably absent from the list of initial Windows supporters in November 1983, leading many to speculate they were working on their own application environment. This turned out to be true, as IBM released their own multitasking product called TopView in 1984.

TopView ran in text-mode and allowed switching between existing DOS applications. Due to IBM's status as the PC market leader, some believed TopView would become the industry standard, while Windows was doomed to fail. In reality, TopView never caught on and IBM admitted defeat by agreeing to distribute Windows 1.0 in 1987, and by signing the cooperation agreement with Microsoft to develop OS/2, the next generation operating system to eventually succeed both Windows and DOS.

TopView introduced the concept of PIF files, which told the system about the requirements and behaviour of standard DOS applications running under TopView. PIF files were later also adopted by Windows once support for running DOS applications under Windows was implemented. TopView as a whole was soon imitated and eclipsed by DESQview from Quarterdeck, which evolved from their earlier task switching program called DESQ.