Although warning signs on its stand at the MacWorld trade show in Boston say it is ‘Not yet fit for human consumption’, Jean-Louis Gassee’s Be Inc has announced a raft of developments that will ultimately make its RISC-based PowerPC BeBox fit for normal human beings. The Menlo Park, California company claims to have built a […]
Although warning signs on its stand at the MacWorld trade show in Boston say it is ‘Not yet fit for human consumption’, Jean-Louis Gassee’s Be Inc has announced a raft of developments that will ultimately make its RISC-based PowerPC BeBox fit for normal human beings. The Menlo Park, California company claims to have built a new hardware and software architecture from scratch for the brave new world of multimedia (CI No 2,777). It has launched a new release of its operating system, a 133Mhz configuration of its dual processor hardware and announced Java support plans and integration of Silicon Graphics Inc’s OpenGL. Developer release 8 of its multi-tasking, multi-threading BeOS operating system adds a lot of new functionality to the system, including support for three dimensional graphics, Internet mail, Web and remote log-in capabilities, the first version of its games kit, and wider support for new hardware. So far, there are very few applications around for the BeBox, since the new architecture means existing applications have to be completely rewritten. For this reason, the system has been sold since December last year only to developers, who can write their own applications for the system. Gassee says Developer Release 8 represents our continuing commitment to our developers, and much of what you see in this release is in direct response to the suggestions developers have made. Georges Beranger, European developer support manager, says to write a multimedia application on traditional systems, developers had to get around shortcomings and bugs in an architecture and tools that were not designed for audio, video and graphical systems. He says development of new applications on the BeBox is proving to be faster and more efficient than on other systems, the fact there is no backward compatibility is not as much of an inhibitor to developers as people would think. Be Inc has also said it has licensed the industry standard 3-D application programming interface OpenGL from Silicon Graphics Inc, and will integrate it into BeOS. Be says this will enable OpenGL applications to be converted onto the BeBox much more easily. It will also futher extend the company’s 3D Kit, which uses object technology to enable developers to integrate light-weight, interactive three dimensional models into any application. In conjunction with Metrowerks Inc, which develops and markets the CodeWarrier line of Macintosh-hosted computer language products, Be Inc will integrate support for Java into its operating system. Release 8 has several Internet tools embedded into the operating system, such as telnet, FTP, Internet mail and a Web server and browser. The company believes the BeBox will be much sought after for Internet applications. Along with the release of BeOS DR8, the company has also introduced the BeBox Dual603-133 personal computer. This integrates two PowerPC 603e processors, each running at 133Mhz as opposed to the earlier 66Mhz system. It comes with integrated CD-ROM drive, two MIDI ports, stereo and audio ports, three infrared control and two joystick ports, standard SCSI, parallel and high speed serial connectors, and a 37 pin GeekPort for inventors and tinkerers. A fully configured BeBox Dual603-133 will cost $3,000 and should begin shipping at the end of next month. In line with its promise to license BeOS for other hardware systems (CI No 2,777), Be has been demonstrating BeOS running on PowerMacs built by Power Computing Inc, at the Boston expo. Gassee says with BeOS for PowerMac we aim to demonstrate the power of a true multitasking, object-oriented operating system, even when running on a single processor personal computer. The company is however stressing that BeOS for PowerMac is a technology demonstration, and is not yet a shipping product. Developers already working with BeOS can get a free upgrade after September 2, and all new BeBox systems will ship with release 8 after that date. Mere mortals will apparently have to wait a little longer.