In 1990, Jean-Louis Gassée, former president of Apple's product
division, formed Be, Inc. to address the problems involved with older
computer operating systems head-on -- to step beyond the evolutionary
approach to personal computing architectures. To see what could be
accomplished if you built a personal computer using new assumptions, based
on cutting-edge software design concepts, and designed for the next
decade's applications, rather than the last decade's. The result is an
operating system with a new level of price-performance and a dramatic
reduction in the complexity of software development.
Read more about the philosophy behind Be's formation and product
development, read the Media OS
What is the BeOS?
The BeOS is, quite simply, an operating system. An operating system
provides programmers with a means of performing input and output to and
from the hardware of a computer. For instance, an operating system helps
applications display information on the screen, and tells applications
where the user clicked the mouse. Computers can often run several different
operating systems; Intel-based PCs can run Windows 3.1, Windows 95, or
Windows NT, for instance, while Power Macintosh hardware could only run the
Mac OS. Now users of either hardware platform have an additional choice:
the BeOS. The BeOS is also particularly well-suited to digital media creation.
What are the main features of the BeOS?
For an in-depth look at the features of the
BeOS, see the Products section of the web site. Here's a brief summary of
- A True Preemptive Multitasking, Pervasively Multithreaded
Operating System. The BeOS is a heavily threaded system, and
the application model is designed to divide an
application into multiple threads even if the programmer
doesn't explicitly do so. This increases the efficiency
and performance of applications and of low-level OS
operations, allowing developers to structure their
applications for simplicity and performance without
worrying about arbitrary architectural limits.
- Symmetric Multiprocessing. The most efficient
way to take advantage of multiple processors is to allow
threads to move from one processor to another depending
on system load -- a process called symmetric
multiprocessing. The result is significantly greater
parallelism on multiprocessor systems, and significantly
higher overall performance throughout.
- An Object-Oriented Design. The BeOS
application programming interface (API) is
object-oriented, rather than the procedural API common in
other mainstream OS architectures. The result is faster
time to market for new applications, and faster revisions
to existing applications over time.
- A Design for Real-Time Media and Communications.
The architecture of the BeOS is optimized for dealing
with real-time, high-bandwidth data types such as audio
and video, and for handling a wide array of
- Simplicity. Throughout the BeOS, there has
been a heavy emphasis on delivering simple, elegant
solutions to programming problems. The attention to
simplicity within the BeOS stems from an underlying
belief that software programmers are most effective and
efficient when each one can understand the entire OS
What machines does the BeOS run on?
The BeOS Release 3 makes the BeOS
available on both Intel-based hardware (Pentium and up) and PowerPC-based
hardware (603 and 604 PCI-based systems).
Initial support for the extremely wide range of hardware available
in the Intel architecture market is limited. While we will expand our hardware
support in future releases, before buying, make sure you have supported
hardware, by visiting the
BeOS Ready Systems list.
Where can I get the BeOS?
In addition to reaching out to a new hardware platform, this release
incorporates many new features, bug fixes, and design enhancements. To get BeOS
Release 3, for either hardware platform, see the BeOS Now! page.
Where can I learn more?
For more Q & A style information, check the FAQ area of the Support section;
all sorts of questions are answered there. We definitely try to put all of the
information we possibly can onto the web site, and we encourage you to spend
some time browsing the entire site -- there are several hundred pages to explore!
The site is organized into several main sections:
- About Be: This section contains
information about Be Inc.'s overall goals and
strategy, how to contact us, employment opportunities, information for the press, links to press articles about Be, information about
Be's electronic mailing lists, and the complete back issues of the weekly Be
- Products: Detailed
information about The BeOS, including specific features of the BeOS, a tour of the BeOS in
action (with screenshots), a white paper on why the BeOS is a true Media OS, and a
chart of BeOS-compatible computers.
Links to applications which
can make your Mac look like it's running the BeOS are available here too.
- BeWare: BeOS-compatible
software, organized into categories. Links to downloading much of this
software are available here. BeWare
Highlights provide an in-depth look at specific applications, while the
BeWare Gem of the Week notes applications
that tickle our fancy, a new one every week.
- Purchase: Here's where Be
t-shirts, CodeWarrior for BeOS,
and the BeOS Release 3 can be purchased. Both secure and
non-secure servers are available. We also have the
Be Bookstore, books we
recommend to our users and developers.
Developers can learn about the
Be Developer Program, learn more about
the advantages the BeOS holds for developers,
up for the Be Developer Program on-line, and enter the
Developer Area once they're confirmed.
Extensive technical information about the BeOS is also available in the
Developers section. The complete BeOS API
(instructions for programming the BeOS) is available here for free. The Developer Library includes tutorials, articles, and sample C++ code, all
categorized by topic. Lists of recent additions to the Be FTP
site are here, along with guidelines for uploading to the FTP
site so that software developers can distribute their software through
BeWare. Bug reports can be
submitted, and previously
submitted bugs can also be reviewed on-line.
- Users: BeOS users will find a plethora
of useful information about using the BeOS. We write weekly
Tip of the Week and
IconWorld stories, which give you hints and
tips for using the BeOS and an icon-by-icon
description of the BeOS system software, respectively. Registered BeOS users can
log into the Registered Users section of the
site, with special resources for Be's customers.
- Be User Groups: Be has dozens of user groups located all
over the world, and information about them can be found here on the web
site. Instructions on how to create a
new Be User Group are also available here, as well as the
BUG Resources that
can help a BUG tell the world about the BeOS. Links to Be-related web sites can be found here
- Events: Be holds
demonstrations of the BeOS all over the world; information about when and where these demos are held can
be found in the Events section. Special demonstrations are also held
every Friday at 3pm at Be's Menlo Park offices; information about signing up for
them can be found here too.
- Support: If you're having
problems with the BeOS on your computer, the Support section is the place to go
for help. We answer as many questions as we possibly can here. Updates to the current BeOS release can
be found in the Support section as well as
complete documentation for the BeOS.
Answers to other frequently asked questions are also in
the Support section; it's the best place to go for miscellaneous bits of
information about Be.
For more information about Be or the BeOS, we invite you to delve into our web
site. If have specific questions about Be and can't find the answers in the
general areas of the site, check the Support
section -- it really does have answers to the vast majority of the questions
we've received over the years. If the Support section doesn't have what you're
looking for, please e-mail us; we'd be happy to answer your questions.