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[P]
Be, Inc. hits the big time

By 11223 in Technology
Mon Jan 08, 2001 at 02:25:41 PM EST
Tags: Software (all tags)
Software

I must admit it. Jean-Louis Gassée, henceforth referred to as JLG, is an absolute genius. Steve Jobs must be taking lessons from him. Why do I say this? Let's just say that recently I've given up on Be, Inc.'s prospects for success. To be honest, I thought they were going to go down hard. But now it's almost as if the company is breathing (or at least exhaling) again, and I'm looking forward to much, much, more of it.


Unless you've had your head in the sand for the past couple of days, you've probably heard some of the hype about Sony's newest Memory Stick-carrying creation, the eVilla Network Entertainment Center. It's a typical Sony device, sporting the Sony gray color that you just know is going to fade and look ugly in five years. But, for whatever reason, it turns the press on.

And that's just what JLG wants. He wants to get people excited about the technology, and to some degree they always have been. Most people give a "wow" when they first experience the BeOS. However, BeOS has had a couple of flaws, mostly political: it tried to compete with Apple, and then it tried to compete with Windows.

"I once preached peaceful coexistence with Windows. You may laugh at my expense -- I deserve it"
- Jean-Louis Gassée column, 12 July 2000

In some ways, BeIA is still competing with Microsoft. Microsoft wants cheap PC vendors to pitch their devices as Internet Appliances, the cheapest and fastest way to get online. Steve Jobs has likewise pitched his iMac as an Internet Appliance. However, anybody who's had to deal with a person who really shouldn't be using a computer knows what I mean when I say that those devices can't reach everybody. There are just too many people for whom the operation of a computer is foreign to them, and they don't want to have to adapt just to get online. This Sony device is just the beginning.

JLG said that 2001 would be the year of BeOS, and I'm looking forward to seeing what other tricks they have up their sleeve. We didn't oficially know about Sony until now. If they've been racking up the partners for the past year since the focus shift, now is the time for them to start to exhale again. What they've done so far has knocked my breath away.

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Poll
In five years, what will Be, Inc. be?
o A successful purveyor of the number three (or above) operating system, BeOS. 10%
o A successful purveyor of the number one internet appliance system, BeIA. 17%
o Both, and I can hardly wait. 7%
o Neither, they'll go out of business before then. 30%
o Niether, Linux rulez, d00dz! 14%
o Inoshiro 19%

Votes: 88
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o eVilla Network Entertainment Center
o Also by 11223


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Be, Inc. hits the big time | 37 comments (24 topical, 13 editorial, 0 hidden)
I hate to whine, but... (3.80 / 5) (#1)
by pb on Mon Jan 08, 2001 at 10:11:43 AM EST

This strikes me as more of an Op-Ed story posting than just Technology; it's a little too meaty for MLP, but not by much, either. Now, on to the content...

I've never thought Steve Jobs was particularly a visionary; he does "Think Different", but I'm not convinced that it's a good thing. Woz, on the other hand, was the man.

But I guess from a marketing standpoint, Jobs is up there; I just wish it were all about merit again, though; then BeOS would be a real contender! Instead, we've got Windows and MacOS, the undisputed kings of the New Jersey Approach.

In the meantime, I'll root for Linux, and I won't hold my breath for BeOS; I'll be happy if it takes off, but that's about it. But at least both MacOS X and Windows 2000 are better than their predecessors, and steal from Unix wholesale; in the long run, that might make them bearable from time to time.
---
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall
You.... (1.25 / 4) (#3)
by 11223 on Mon Jan 08, 2001 at 10:36:42 AM EST

Are whining.

Anyway, how the hell are you? Haven't talked to you in a while...

--
The dead hand of Asimov's mass psychology wins every time.
[ Parent ]

Yup... (1.66 / 3) (#11)
by pb on Mon Jan 08, 2001 at 11:46:44 AM EST

I do that occasionally; I try to stop myself, but sometimes it just doesn't work. :)

I'm doing fine, had a good Winter Break, but now I'm back in school and mores the pity. I'd much rather have a real job, but I'm stuck pursuing the elusive sheet of paper that says people should give me jobs instead; go figure.

How're you doing?
---
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall
[ Parent ]
Well.... (1.66 / 3) (#13)
by 11223 on Mon Jan 08, 2001 at 12:33:13 PM EST

I have *two* evils.... I have a real job *and* I'm pursuing the elusive sheet of paper (two, actually; I'm a double major). At the job now, school starts next week.

Read my past diary entries (and their comments) for a site (in development) that you need to check out.

--
The dead hand of Asimov's mass psychology wins every time.
[ Parent ]

MacOS X Better? (2.66 / 3) (#19)
by Arkady on Mon Jan 08, 2001 at 01:54:03 PM EST

Feh, I say!

I've been running pre-releases and the "final" beta of OS X since I got my G4 Cube (a lovely little 'puter, by the way) and, to be frank, it pretty much sucks. The damn emulation layer that's supposed to let you run traditional Mac apps can't even run SimpleText without going down in flames.

The only bit I found really impressive was the neat animated way that windows sort of swirl up into existence when you open one. That was cool; the rest was pretty much tripe.

I haven't bothered to open the Apple developer mailings for a few months, so I don't know if they've issued an update since the public beta went out that would fix the bigger (more obvious) problems, but they certainly need to. Maybe a new one will come out at MacWorld this week that fixes it up and gives it a better GUI than the rather ugly copy of Solaris' barbaric front-end that the public beta had, but I'm not hopeful.

-robin

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere Anarchy is loosed upon the world.


[ Parent ]
Umm...solaris? (3.00 / 3) (#20)
by 11223 on Mon Jan 08, 2001 at 02:12:22 PM EST

I was sorta under the impression that if you turned the dock so that it was vertical, and took the menu off of the top of the screen and made it a seperate window, that MacOS X was a perfect copy of NextSTEP (duh!). If anything, the CDE panel (Solaris's default UI is, for now, CDE) was copied from that concept, given that CDE came out *much* after NextSTEP originally came out.

I've not heard much about problems with Classic; but I did hear that for whatever reason Mac on Linux was better. Me, I've still got 8.6 on my Mac, but that's because it won't run OS X.

--
The dead hand of Asimov's mass psychology wins every time.
[ Parent ]

OpenStep and Solaris (3.50 / 2) (#22)
by Anonymous 242 on Mon Jan 08, 2001 at 02:40:04 PM EST

FYI, for a span of time, one could choose OpenStep as the default desktop environment on Solaris workstations. Read this brief history of NextStep.

[ Parent ]
Yes, indeed. (3.00 / 2) (#24)
by 11223 on Mon Jan 08, 2001 at 02:45:38 PM EST

You can still download it, if you know where to look (i.e. not on the Sun web site). It's slow, it's very incomplete, and there's no development tools that have ever been shipped. That said, it's gotta be a hundered times better than CDE/

--
The dead hand of Asimov's mass psychology wins every time.
[ Parent ]

well, CDE (2.50 / 2) (#23)
by Arkady on Mon Jan 08, 2001 at 02:42:52 PM EST

"CDE", right. Sorry, I forgot what it was called; I've only ever seen it on Solaris.

The CDE dock may well have been conceptually borrowed from NextStep (or however they're CapiTalIziNG it this week), but the MacOS X one looks exactly like the Solaris one (and the Solaris one is only vaguely similar to NextStep's).

Where I have a choice, I still use 8.5 1, since I think it's about the cleanest OS Apple's produced yet. I use 9 on the Cube, of course, since it won't run anything older, and that's OK. It's much better than X.

-robin

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere Anarchy is loosed upon the world.


[ Parent ]
MacOS X == utter shit (3.60 / 5) (#30)
by Potsy on Tue Jan 09, 2001 at 05:20:32 AM EST

Finally, someone who agrees with me. MacOS X sucks more than anything that has sucked before. It's going to be a disaster. (By the way, I work at Apple.) Steve Jobs's keynote at Macworld SF is in a few hours, and I'll be watching it on video monitors at the office, just waiting for the damn thing to crash during the demo and totally embarass his ass.

I have serious doubts that Avie and Steve will ever learn the truth about Mac users, but I can hope. That truth being, Mac users do not want Unix, NeXTSTEP, or any of the other crap that has gone into MacOS X. They want the MacOS the way it is, only better, where "better" is defined as having preemptive multitasking and memory protection without giving up all the cool little UI features that make the Mac what it is.

And I hate to tell you this, but MacOS X has really not improved that much since Public Beta. There are a few things that have gotten better, but for the most part, it's still that same, shitty NeXT-clone that you saw a few months ago. Ugh.

The worst part about all this is, Apple customers could have been using a fully preemptively multitasked, memory protected version of the MacOS by now. There was even a plan by some people in the MacOS group to do just that. They worked it out while the "fortissimo" project (the upcoming MacOS 9.1) was ramping up. I've heard varying reports as to just how far they got, but from what I understand, it was not that big a job. (It certainly would have been less work that this goddamn MacOS X project is turning out to be!) Note that ever since 8.6, the MacOS is actually running as a single task under the "nanokernel", which is a derivative of the "NuKernel" from the failed Copland project. Changing the MacOS so that Carbon apps (and this would only be for Carbon apps) ran as separate, memory protected tasks under the nanokernel would have been almost trivial. Regular MacOS apps would all continue to run under a separate, single-tasked enviroment as they do now. It would have solved all the current problems with the MacOS, without throwing anything away or introducing any new, unwanted crap.

Well, guess what happened to that plan? Avie killed it, just so he wouldn't have any competition for his little "MacOS X" project. (Naturally, the people who worked on that plan quit after that incident.)

Avie is a fucking asshole, and you can quote me on that. Blame him for destroying the Mac.

[ Parent ]

I don't know about Mac users... (3.50 / 2) (#35)
by Refrag on Wed Jan 10, 2001 at 09:48:00 AM EST

But, Mac OS X is attracting me to the Mac. I've always known that Mac hardware is superior to PC hardware (at a price), but the thing holding me back was the horrible OS. Once Mac OS X starts shipping, I'll probably get a Mac.

Refrag

Kuro5hin: ...and culture, from the trenches
[ Parent ]

"Horrible"? (4.00 / 1) (#37)
by Potsy on Fri Jan 12, 2001 at 02:23:27 AM EST

I'm curious: what is it that you think is so horrible about it? Suppose it had preemptive multitasking and memory protection, but was otherwise exactly the same as it is now. How would you feel about it then?

[ Parent ]
Tough job... (2.66 / 3) (#2)
by rebelcool on Mon Jan 08, 2001 at 10:30:11 AM EST

Making an internet appliance for the computer illiterate masses. Anyone who can pull that off is a UI genius. Heck, I had enough trouble getting my sony DVD player to work (particularly that damn Tool box set d dvd..that has the worst user interface i have ever seen)

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site

Be shoulda got out of software not hardware (3.25 / 4) (#4)
by Anonymous 242 on Mon Jan 08, 2001 at 10:38:32 AM EST

Just my personal opinion.

Maybe I'm crack.

Maybe not.

I bet that if Be would of kept cranking out their tres cool dual PowerPC machines instead of moving to be a software only company, they'd be making much more money. (This is especially the case if the best parts of BeOS such as BFS had been open sourced.) Oodles of Linux fans are chomping at the bit for reasonably priced PPC equipment.

And when Apple dropped the Newton, Be could have grabbed the ball and ran with it. Imagine the company that delivered the BeBox (with the infamous GeekPort) putting out a PPC or StrongARM PDA. Mmmmh. Tasty.

But this is all water under the bridge now and the world will never know what might have been. . .

Ummm.... (3.00 / 1) (#6)
by 11223 on Mon Jan 08, 2001 at 10:46:02 AM EST

And when Apple dropped the Newton, Be could have grabbed the ball and ran with it. Imagine the company that delivered the BeBox (with the infamous GeekPort) putting out a PPC or StrongARM PDA. Mmmmh. Tasty.

Actually, if you're aware of the early history of Be, Inc., the BeBox could best be described as Newton+Jaguar. JLG headed the original Newton development. Most of the people he stole from the company were Newton folks. Of course, that was when the Newton was using the Hobbit and not the StrongARM.

Jaguar was another RISC project (88k, IIRC) that used a multi-tasking and multi-threaded OS. To quote JLG, the antibodies at Apple killed it for fear of it competing with the Macintosh. The BeBox was basically that.

--
The dead hand of Asimov's mass psychology wins every time.
[ Parent ]

and . . . (3.00 / 1) (#8)
by Anonymous 242 on Mon Jan 08, 2001 at 10:58:48 AM EST

Actually, if you're aware of the early history of Be, Inc., the BeBox could best be described as Newton+Jaguar. JLG headed the original Newton development. Most of the people he stole from the company were Newton folks. Of course, that was when the Newton was using the Hobbit and not the StrongARM.

Be still dropped their hardware division. If your understanding of Be's early history is correct, they should have been poised to take off like a rocket when Palm Computing/USR/3Com/Palm Computing started the ball rolling for the currently cash cow PDA market.

Unfortunately, they are not. They are slightly behind the curve on the software and no longer have any hardware offering. Tis a shame, because the BeBox was such a sweet piece of hardware. I was just about to buy one when JLG pulled the plug.

[ Parent ]

Add to that... (3.50 / 2) (#31)
by Steeltoe on Tue Jan 09, 2001 at 08:13:13 AM EST

The hardware support is pretty crummy, from my experiences atleast. I know I might dislike BeOS more than it deserves, but hardware support is pretty important for an OS to get noticed. The PC is built around the notion that the users can stick whatever they want in their machines, and if that doesn't suit Be, they should stick to other platforms than the ol' x86.

- Steeltoe
Explore the Art of Living

[ Parent ]
Finish something! (3.00 / 2) (#27)
by Bad Mojo on Mon Jan 08, 2001 at 02:54:47 PM EST

Be has never finished anything. They always seem to get their project to the point of being JUST popular, then they rush on to something else. Isn't it about time to pick up some new technology?



-Bad Mojo
"The purpose of writing is to inflate weak ideas, obscure pure reasoning, and inhibit clarity. With a little practice, writing can be an intimidating and impenetrable fog!"
B. Watterson's Calvin - "Calvin & Hobbes"

My take on Be (4.66 / 3) (#28)
by Skippy on Mon Jan 08, 2001 at 03:20:11 PM EST

I've tried Be R5 on my machine and it ran just fine. I was pretty happy with it (although it didn't do a very good job anti-aliasing my Type1 fonts). Here are my issues with Be that keep me from using it regularly (I run FreeBSD on my workstation at home.)

  • Not multiuser. This one is really annoying. Be feels like a VERY refined Unix to me but then you have but one user.
  • Network layer SUCKS. I realize this is being worked on, but you can't even run a traceroute for crying out loud.
  • Very limited free apps. I don't like to use software I didn't pay for but I don't have piles of cash lying around either. With Linux or *BSD I can at least get apps (flakey or not) that do everything I want without forking over cash. (Yes, I believe libre is more important but at this point in my financial life gratis is darn close).

    I think if Be fixed these things that they'd have a competitive OS on their hands. As it is Be feels incomplete (to me). I really hope they either pull their stuff together or open source the OS (not BeIA) so that others can do it. Be seems like such a promising start that I'd hate to see it die.

    # I am now finished talking out my ass about things that I am not qualified to discuss. #

  • Be had potential (3.00 / 1) (#33)
    by erotus on Wed Jan 10, 2001 at 03:14:14 AM EST

    BeOS boots faster than any other OS I've seen. It comes with a journaling file system. Be was and still is a great idea that unfortunately didnt catch on well. I really like the OS, however, the lack of apps is disheartening. I have a programmer friend who says Be programming is a dream come true. I only see one problem with Be - They are moving into embedded devices at the expense of the desktop. Don't get me wrong, this is a good move financially, but the desktop OS will suffer.

    The reason Linux or BSD have apps is because of open source programmers who devote themselves to projects for the love of the game. If Be had opened their OS, they would be a lot more popular today and I'd bet that they'd be further along than they are. Be is so zippy and fast and it almost makes me jealous that Linux is not as responsive. Oh well, C'est la vie. I'll still toy around with BeOS even though it won't be my main desktop.

    [ Parent ]
    Interview with JLG MLP (3.50 / 2) (#29)
    by Morn on Mon Jan 08, 2001 at 03:58:16 PM EST

    BeOS news site BeGroovy is currently carrying an interview with Jean-Louis Gassée, covering a bit of the rocky BeOS->BeIA story along with a little about 'internet appliances' in general. It was made before the Sony announcement, but is interesting nonetheless.

    Nice, nice (2.00 / 2) (#32)
    by maketo on Tue Jan 09, 2001 at 08:37:31 AM EST

    The only complaint I have about BeOS is the lack of drivers for different hardware :(

    agents, bugs, nanites....see the connection?
    Thats kinda the point (4.00 / 1) (#36)
    by tmalone on Wed Jan 10, 2001 at 03:26:33 PM EST

    BeIA isn't BeOS as we've known it. It is embedded Be, IE, don't worry about drivers. This is a very smart move for the Be. They can't keep up will all the hardware in the PC world, so instead, they leave the PC world and goto the embedded market. BeOS is going to be phased out very soon and support will be dropped (I forget the date they gave). BeIA is all they are concentrating on right now.

    Tim

    [ Parent ]
    another nice OS, but (2.50 / 2) (#34)
    by yavor on Wed Jan 10, 2001 at 08:21:39 AM EST

    BeOS is nice system, but nothing revolutionly.
    BeIA my take a piece of the growing appliance market, but I doubt it will rule desktop or appliance market one day. Sure it has good features, but why would I run BeOS at my desktop?
    - it isn't open source
    - it lacks some things like device drivers
    - it may be stable, is it more stable then Linux or FreeBSD? For two years my linux box has frozen 2 times and that were my errors in configuration.

    To take a market an OS must most/all of the features that benefit an OS in that market(like table, reliable, fast(for server), cheap or free (for market of cheap devices)) plus one of these:
    - something unique, some new technology or approach that the other competitors doesn't have and can't adopt fast or at all(open source model helped Linux and FreeBSD conquer a large part of the server and power user niche)

    - strong financial back(like M$ - they may have a crappy product but if they decide they want a niche they can invest lots of money for long time and spend millions on advertisement).

    So what of the previous does BeOS and BeIA have? A little from every but will it be enough? Time will show.

    Be, Inc. hits the big time | 37 comments (24 topical, 13 editorial, 0 hidden)
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