Users who have outgrown DOS but are not yet ready to plunge into the OS/2 arena are starting to eye alternative operating systems as immediate solutions to their needs.

The introduction of OS/2 has spawned a breed of users more aware of alternatives to DOS, analysts said. While these users are frustrated by the limitations DOS imposes, they aren’t yet prepared to move to OS/2 and endure the dearth of real business applications.

One such user is Bill Santiago, a corporate director of information systems at a large Midwestern company. The introduction of OS/2, Santiago said, was primarily responsible for his decision to examine the Advanced Pick 386 operating system once it is available from Pick Systems next year.

”I guess I decided I was tired of waiting [for OS/2],” he said. ”Advanced Pick is a lot less expensive than going to OS/2, and I was really attracted to its relational database and multiuser capabilities.”

John Marvin, a corporate information-systems director at another Midwestern company, agreed. ”It would have taken forever for OS/2 applications to arrive, and I was looking for a system to start using now.” Marvin said he will soon be using Digital Research Inc.’s Concurrent DOS operating system.

Officials at Pick Systems, Digital Research Inc., Quantum Software Systems Ltd. and Theos Software Corp. all say they’re seeing unprecedented interest in their products since OS/2 was introduced more than a year ago.

”OS/2 is the best thing that’s ever happened to us,” said Dan Hildebrand, a technical specialist at Quantum in Kanata, Ontario.

Quantum, which makes the PC-based multiuser, multitasking QNX network operating system, has noticed a clear boost in sales since the advent of OS/2, Hildebrand said. He said users are finding benefits in alternative operating systems that DOS and OS/2 can’t match.

Quantum’s QNX, for example, is capable of supporting many users on any mix of IBM PCs. Its primary selling point is that it offers more features for less money than does OS/2, Hildebrand said.

Like OS/2, QNX can run applications in real or protected mode. Unlike OS/2, however, upgrading existing PCs to a QNX network system requires just two network cards, a far less expensive alternative than upgrading all 80286 systems with at least 2M bytes of memory to support OS/2, Hildebrand said.

Theos Software has added several new features and enhancements to its THEOS/386 multiuser, multitasking system over the past several months, said Tim Williams, president of the Walnut Creek, Calif., company.

Calling All DOS Users

In an attempt to reach users who don’t want to lose the DOS-based software with which they’re now familiar, Theos is currently working on a DOS compatibility feature for its operating system, Williams said.

Digital Research has taken a similar approach with its multiuser, multitasking Concurrent DOS and DR DOS operating systems.

Since last quarter, the company has added more memory support and the capability to access data through Novell Inc. network servers, said Frank Iveson, vice president of sales at Digital Research, in Monterey, Calif.

”We are competing with OS/2 in a very different sense — not on product features, but for a mind share,” he said.

Rob Pacilio, a director of information systems at the West Palm Beach Cellular Telephone Co., said his company now runs its work groups under the THEOS 386 operating system, rather than under DOS.

”We had a work group under DOS, but after four users the [network] couldn’t take the throughput,” Pacilio said.

”In our opinion, OS/2 was a step in the right direction, but it just wasn’t enough of a step,” he added.