Can the BeOS Challenge Windows?

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What is Be? To those mainstream computer users who've even heard of the upstart operating system known as the BeOS, it's the also-also-ran, that other alternative operating system besides Linux. In the past year the press has fawned over Apple and Linux as they boldly challenged the hegemony of Microsoft's Windows, while Be waited quietly in the wings. Now, with its parent company making an IPO this week, it's time for Be to make its grand entrance. So what is Be? Why is Intel spending millions on it? And why should Bill Gates be afraid of it?

Basically, the BeOS is an operating system designed for working with media: audio, video and images. It boots quickly, doesn't crash, runs applications rapidly, and is good at handling very large file sizes. In 1998, Intel invested in Be, Inc., to the tune of about $10 million. Why would a company that's traditionally been seen as Microsoft's Siamese twin pour that much money into a Microsoft competitor? To hedge its bets. MORE >>