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Be reports half-million downloads of free OS

The company says that more than 550,000 copies of BeOS 5 have been downloaded since the free PC operating system became available a week ago.

Be announced today that more than 550,000 copies of BeOS 5 have been downloaded since the free PC operating system became available a week ago.

The number includes all downloads from Be's web site and 18 reporting download partners. Be estimates there are at least 39 other download sites that have not yet reported.

Be, founded by former Apple executive Jean-Louis Gassee, originally focused on providing an operating system fine-tuned for audio and video production. BeOS 5 is intended to be a more consumer-friendly system for general PC users. The OS can be installed on Windows PCs without the need to repartition the hard drive or other technical chores that intimidate many would-be Linux users. The BeOS does requires a healthy chunk of storage space to create a "virtual partition," however.

More than 100,000 users pre-registered to receive the free software, and many users found it difficult to log on to the Be download site when the software was made available March 28.