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Be reemerges from the shadows

Macworld Expo One-time Apple acquisition target Be will demonstrate at Macworld Expo new software to let the BeOS run any Mac application.

Macworld Expo Emerging from the shadows of the Apple Computer-Next Software alliance, one-time Apple acquisition target Be will demonstrate at Macworld Expo new software to let the BeOS run any Mac application, CNET has learned.

At the booth of Mac clone maker Power Computing, Be founder, chairman, and chief executive Jean-Louis Gassée will show off emulation software that makes Mac apps think that the BeOS is the Mac OS.

The event will be more of a "proof of concept" demonstration than a product introduction, the source said. But it may still serve to show that the BeOS has a future on its own.

Power Computing licensed the BeOS in November and has a vested interest in showing that the operating system will be able to run existing applications.

Be and Apple discussed a potential merger for several months before negotiations broke down over money. Apple then turned to Next, which provided the company with a powerful, modern operating system, but for cheaper than the BeOS would have cost.

The Be emulator will likely run Mac applications in a separate window on the BeOS so that users will have the advantage of protected memory and multitasking that the BeOS offers but that the current Mac OS does not.

Running the applications in a window means that there will be a performance penalty, however, as code would have to be translated on the fly. The sources had no information about any potential ship date for emulation software.

The BeOS is designed from scratch to take advantage of all the most modern OS development techniques:

  • It is multithreaded and has preemptive multitasking so it can process several tasks at once.
  • It offers protected memory so one crashed application cannot crash the entire operating system.
  • It can run on a system with several processors instead of only one.
  • It relies on a modular, or object-oriented, design that is faster and easier to update.

    Apple pursued a deal with Be because it wants all of these features for its own operating system. But now Be is on its own and can't run Mac applications except with the help of an emulator.

    Be is still working closely with Power Computing, one of the largest Mac clone vendors. Power Computing plans to ship a separate CD-ROM with the BeOS in the first quarter of 1997 as a tool for use in multimedia and communications applications.