The talks are ongoing and an announcement could come soon, but sources said that the agreement is in the draft stages. Still, according to sources, it is possible that the BeOS could ship with and run on Power Computing systems by early next year if an agreement is reached soon.
"There are discussions between the two companies and people can expect to hear announcements soon," said Mark Gonzales, director of marketing for Be.
The news comes as talks between Be and Apple (AAPL) about Be's acquisition hit a snag. Apple has been looking at the BeOS because it has a number of compelling features which Apple might want to integrate into its own future system.
Power Computing, in particular, is assessing what message it would be sending to the Mac market by bundling an operating system that would be used alongside the MacOS. Power Computing is reportedly interested in the BeOS because of its potential as a "powerful new tool for certain customer segments," according to one source, not as a replacement for the MacOS. Vertical markets such as graphics manipulation and transactional Web servers, which would enjoy a significant performance gain by using the BeOS, are the targeted users, said the source.
"Power Computing is first and foremost a Mac licensee. [Power Computing] has been built to help Apple," said a Power Computing spokesperson, noting that many of the company's employees, including founder Steve Kahng, were part of the original team that developed the Power Macintosh system.
In fact, it is the very relationship between members of Power Computing and Be that is leading many to conclude that a licensing deal is a foregone conclusion. Power Computing engineers were instrumental in helping port the BeOS to the PowerPC platform. It was at the MacWorld Expo in Boston this year that the company created a stir when the first exhibited the BeOS running on a Power Computing system.
The BeOS was built from the ground up as a symmetric multiprocessing operating system for use with multiple lower-cost PowerPC processors. It is a multithreaded system with preemptive multitasking that offers protected memory and an object-oriented design.
The main advantage of the BeOS over the current MacOS is its multiprocessor orientation. This allows, for example, relatively high-performance playback of several video clips at the same time. This ability to speed up the processing of several operations simultaneously is the main advantage Power Computing would present to the vertical graphics arts and multimedia content publishing markets.