California-based software developer Be Systems has expanded the scope of its operating system to include the Intel platform.
Launched at the Software Development 98 show in San Francisco last week, the OS will offer exactly the same features and applications programming interfaces (APIs) as the Macintosh version, which has been available for some time as a preview release.
The operating system is tuned toward the multimedia content creation market and is optimised to handle audio and video streams. It is multi-threaded, offering up to eight-processor symmetric multiprocessing. The core OS takes up about 250Kb of memory, with a full install requiring 4.5Mb.
BeOS will run on 'most current motherboards', said Alex Osadzinski, VP of sales and marketing at Be Systems. He claimed the OS supports all Intel's Pentium processors, as well as chips from AMD and Cyrix. However, it only has drivers for common peripherals. 'We can achieve on a $2,500 PC what today will take a $20,000 dedicated machine,' Osadzinski stated.
BeOS will not run Windows applications, but does use standard data types such as Gif and Wav. The OS will be shipped with software to allow it to be installed alongside Microsoft Windows or another operating system, giving users a choice of OS when their machine is booted. The OS will also include a Web server and browser and a Java virtual machine.
As yet, there are only about 20 commercial applications for BeOS, mostly from little-known developers. The company has not targeted vendors such as Adobe or Quark to port popular applications such as Photoshop or Xpress.
'One reason is that these are old, large apps that are difficult to port and would not benefit much from the multithreading,' Osadzinski said.
The company said it does not intend to replace other operating systems.
Rather, BeOS will be installed on PCs that also run Microsoft Windows - and on Macs that also run Mac OS. The first release on Intel will be BeOS 3, so named since it follows two preview releases of the OS' Mac version.
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