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BeOS: The Media OS
User Explanation Track


The BeOS, like any operating system, is a complex product that is difficult to describe completely in a single coherent document. Our strategy is to break different levels of summarization into different documents. Here's a guide to the documents which do the most to describe the BeOS, from the 20,000 foot view to the 5 foot view.

Of course, sometimes you need to get even closer. That's when you'll want to contact someone at Be directly, or see a live demonstration of the BeOS. See the very end for how you can do either of these.

Altitude   What You Can See
20,000 feet  

What's Be
A very brief overview of Be, the BeOS, and the people behind both. This page also includes a narrative outline of the rest of the Be web site, great for locating the section of the site with more information of interest to you.

10,000 feet  

The Media OS Whitepaper
This 15-page white paper outlines the technological underpinnings of the BeOS, explaining how a number of technological trends made possible and desirable a media-oriented operating system, a Media OS, which in turn gave rise to the BeOS. This is the best document for explaining the philosophy of design behind the BeOS.

5,000 feet  

BeOS Datasheet
A semi-detailed overview of the BeOS, this three-page document expresses in more detail the foundational technologies of the BeOS, and how these technologies make the BeOS ideally suited for handling digital media in realtime on consumer-class PCs.

1,000 feet  

BeOS Specifications
A component-by-component examination of the technologies of the BeOS, this six-page document lists virtually all of the features of the BeOS. Note that features are mentioned, without necessarily detailing why they are useful to the OS (the datasheet does that better). Release 4-specific.

500 feet  

BeOS Tour
Take a screenshot-based tour of the BeOS, and see what it's like to actually use the BeOS to do a variety of tasks. Twelve different sections illustrate various important parts of the BeOS, and what you can do with it. For people who need to "see" the BeOS, this is the next-best thing to attending a live demo. Release 3 and 4.

100 feet  

What's On The CD
A detailed listing, in outline format, of the actual contents of the BeOS product CD. If you want to know exactly what comes on the CD, e.g., which applications or command line utilities are in the BeOS, this is the document to check. Release 4-specific.

50 feet  

What's New in the BeOS
This document is a bullet point-based listing of all the new user-level features and changes in the BeOS, compared with the prior release. Although it's most helpful if you have a baseline knowledge of the BeOS already, it's still quite useful for getting an idea of what's in the product. Release 4-specific.

10 feet  

BeOS Ready List
A document detailing the hardware supported by the BeOS. The most complete information about what hardware can run the BeOS. Release 4-specific.

5 feet  

The Be FAQs
A collection of over 350 of the most popular questions about Be and the BeOS, from the most general ("How do you pronounce 'BeOS'?") to the most specific ("Does the BeOS support XYZ technology?"). If your question isn't answered in any of the above documents, it's probably in the FAQs.

1 foot  

Contacting Be
If you still need to get closer, you probably need direct contact with someone at Be. The Contacting Be web page describes the different e-mail contacts at Be, so that you can direct your inquiry to the right person.


Be and the BeOS in Person
Or, if what you really want is to see the BeOS live and on stage, you'll want to check our events schedule. We go to many industry trade shows and schedule demonstrations at various locations throughout the world. Our events schedule will let you know when we're playing at a venue near you. Better yet, if you're in the Bay Area, we host regular demonstrations on Friday afternoons. Again, check the Events section for more information about our Friday Demo Days.

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