In association with heise online

BeOS - Their winter had come

For some the present is never enough, change comes too fast, and there is never enough time to savour the best or the worst of what has gone before. Computer users are no different to anyone else, and all of us have longed at some time or another for a semi-mythical past that was populated by machines and toys that were ahead of their time, but lost out in the race for conformity and price.

BeOS was ahead of its time, and was known for its elegance and simplicity - the two qualities which are said to be the inspiration for the choice of Haiku as the name for the project that seeks to resurrect BeOS. A second reason was the BeOS habit of reporting system errors in the form of a haiku. For example NetPositive, the BeOS web browser, would report that:

"Sites you are seeking

From your path they are fleeing

Their winter has come"

BeOS had all the promise in the world, but fell by the wayside because its parent company, Be Inc, couldn't realise a workable business model, and was pushed into oblivion by the omnipresence of Windows and the rival attractions of Linux and Apple. It saw the last of its days in 2001, and even with a BeOS CD in your hand, it is not possible to get it to work on more recent machines or on anything with more than 1GB of ram.

Zoom GTK+ on BeOS
BeOS was designed to be an integrated multimedia desktop operating system. It was lean and uncluttered, fired up fast and gave a fresh and simple user experience, which owed something to the background of its original developers, who had previously worked for Apple. At one time there was talk of Apple buying Be Inc, and replacing the Apple OS with BeOS. It didn't happen, reportedly because Jean-Louis Gassée, the founder of BeOS, valued BeOS at three or four times Apple's valuation, and the deal was finally vetoed when Apple bought NeXT and Steve Jobs was reinstated as Apple's chief executive.

This was the beginning of the end for BeOS which staggered along for another five years, but Be Inc never found the OEMs needed to sustain the operating system (because of alleged pressure on the OEMs from Microsoft). For the BeOS community, their winter had come.

Next: Haiku - Stealin' back to my good old use-to-be

Print Version | Permalink:
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • submit to slashdot
  • StumbleUpon
  • submit to reddit

  • July's Community Calendar

The H Open

The H Security

The H Developer

The H Internet Toolkit