Be has released the latest version of its operating system, BeOS 5, in a personal edition available free for download on the Web, and a professional edition available from third-party publishers worldwide.
The company is offering a programmers' development kit, BeIDE (Be Integrated Development Environment) and a library of demonstration applications with its operating system, according to a written statement from Be. Be also said that it will open access to its desktop, Tracker, and its taskbar, Deskbar, by publishing a software developers' kit along with the source code.
The BeOS 5 Personal Edition uses an installation procedure that does not alter or modify the boot drive and resides as a single file on the disk, Be said, which makes installing the OS no riskier than installing a typical Windows application. This file can then be double-clicked to switch control from Windows to BeOS, according to Be.
The BeOS supports IDE (Integrated Drive Electronics) and SCSI (small computer systems interface) drives, further PC Card and USB (Universal Serial Bus) support, dialup and LAN (local area network) TCP/IP networking and AppleTalk support. Other features of the OS include an improved 'find' panel, lists of recent applications and documents, streamlined audio support, a new MIDI (musical instrument digital interface) kit and support for the MP3 format, Be said.
Since the January announcement that a version of the BeOS would be distributed at no cost via the Web, Be said that over 100,000 users – representing the three user communities of professionals, new and casual users and programmers – have pre-registered for the download.
The BeOS Pro Edition is being distributed by Koch in the UK. The distributors will handle all pricing, packaging and physical and electronic distribution through retail and other channels.
Special features of the BeOS Pro Edition include the ability to be installed on both Intel - and Power PC-based machines, new encoding support for various audio formats and 26 applications, many of which are multimedia-oriented, according to the company.