18, 2000 - Be
Inc. said today that it will offer the newest version of its operating system
for free later this quarter. Version 5 for the desktop will be available for
download to pre-registered individuals. Be will also work with publishers and
other partners to distribute the software. Commercial users of BeOS 5 will still
require a separate license from Be. The software currently retails for $99.
move is designed to "maximize the visibility and acceptance of Be technology,"
the company said.
"Making the free version of BeOS 5 available through the Internet and other
channels allows us to aggressively promote our technology, maximize our visibility
and obtain valuable market feedback while aggressively pursuing Internet appliance
opportunities," CEO Jean-Louis Gassee said in a release.
company said users will be able to use the operating system on their Windows-based
PCs without the need to repartition their hard drives. It will be stored as
a file within the Windows file system, and available by launching an icon, just
like any application.
The BeOS can also be uninstalled like other applications, according to the company.
BeOS "may work" with some Power Macintosh computers, but is not compatible with
current Apple computers, according to the company.
company said today that was re-focusing the company on the Internet appliance
market. Be is developing the OS for its Stinger technology, software for appliances
that deliver information and entertainment over the Web. Be said Stinger is
customizable, includes a browser and supports popular streaming audio and video
believe this move, as it currently stands, will ultimately be less successful
than the scenario it is trying to emulate, i.e. Linux and the growth of the
open source market. People other than current Be-ophiles will be drawn to Be-based
equipment for two reasons: (1) BeOS is "not Microsoft", or (2) if sufficient
applications exist to draw them. Being "not Microsoft" can be a good early draw,
but long-term strategy requires applications. With less than 1000 Intel-compatible
applications available from the Be, Inc. website (vs. approximately 100,000
for Windows), BeOS will need to get developers onboard early. It is unclear
that giving it away to non-commercial users will help BeOS reach "critical mass",
i.e. market size sufficient to draw developers without offering other incentives.
Inc. should consider giving away trial versions of key applications (such as
a productivity suite)
to help increase desktop market share. In addition, Be should continue its aggressive
pursuit of marketing deals with the large hardware vendors, similar to its current
deal with Compaq, Sun, and National Semiconductor.
Users need not rush out to download it (even if it were available today), especially
if they already have working systems. Be-ophiles in general are happy with BeOS
robustness, so and we are less concerned with its reliability than that of Windows.
Be Inc. promotes that BeOS can be loaded onto a Windows-based system,. and can
be run without major adjustments such as repartitioning a drive, or re-configuring
the system to be a dual-boot system. Assuming this to be the case, users can
try BeOS relatively risk-free. BeOS's future is tied more to Internet appliances
than to current desktops, so we expect market penetration on current machines
to be low.
Commercial users wanting to try it should do so in a controlled environment,
e.g. dedicated test systems, before committing to a large installation. Even
if it performs admirably, though, it is not clear that there will be enough
reason for commercial users to move away from their current environment. For
now, look on it more as an educational exercise than as an IT strategy .