The Be operating system (BeOS) was demonstrated running on an Intel-based personal computer today at the Be Developer Conference in Boston. The company then announced that it will release Intel and PowerPC versions of its operating system in January.
Be demonstrated a number of new developments, including how both the Intel and PowerPC versions of BeOS offer identical features. Be also showed that applications for Intel and the PowerPC can be compiled, or created, using the same computer code. In addition, Be demonstrated the BeOS running on multiprocessor Intel and PowerPC systems.
The BeOS was originally designed for use on PowerPC-based , Be-manufactured hardware, but it was ported to run on other PowerPC systems, primarily Macintosh-compatible computers. Be has since moved out of the hardware business to concentrate on developing the operating system, and it has decided to modify the OS to run on ubiquitous Intel-compatible computers.
BeOS was seen late last year as a possible successor to Apple's aging MacOS operating system. Apple had been working on a replacement, named Copland, until late last year, when it purchased Next and announced the current Rhapsody development effort, expected to generate a new operating system early next year.
By supporting both Intel and PowerPC platforms, Be seems to be trying to ensure that as many computers as possible can support its operating system; building a large enough base of users to support third-party software development will be critical to the long-term acceptance of BeOS.
Additionally, by not exclusively linking BeOS to Macintosh-compatible platforms, Be may be trying to assure developers that time spent learning to program for the new OS won't be wasted should that market collapse.
Be's announcement and the BeOS developer conference in Boston come two days before the start of Macworld Expo.
A preview release of BeOS is now being distributed to Mac users via bundling with popular MacOS-oriented computer magazines in several countries.