Be Inc. has said it would make the next version of its Be operating system free as part of a new strategy, also announced today, to focus on the Internet appliance market. Version 5 of the BeOS desktop operating system will be available later this quarter for free to noncommercial users. "In order to promote our technology, we decided to make a free version," said Steve Sakoman, Be’s co-founder and newly appointed CEO. "We do this to raise the visibility of the company." Users who register with Be at free.be.com will be able to download the software for free, and Be will also work with publishers and others to make commercial versions of BeOS 5 available through customary retail channels. "The decision to give away BeOS 5 will mean Be's revenue for 2000 will take a major hit, since the company's desktop OS sales constitute around 85 percent of its revenue," said Sakoman. "We're forgoing short-term revenues to pursue a bigger, longer-term opportunity." Last month, Be announced a licensing agreement with Compaq Computer Corp. to let Compaq install the Be software platform on Compaq's Internet appliances. Stinger, as the new project is called, will be formally rolled out later this quarter, according to Be.