Feeds

MS licences block Be's bid for PC market

We explain why Gassee can't even give the OS away

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Remote control for virtualized desktops

Be CEO Jean-Louis Gassee says he has had no takers for his offer (see Be boss offers free OS) to license BeOS free for a year to any OEM prepared to install it on their PCs as an option to Windows. But that's scarcely surprising, because the way he's suggesting they do it would be a breach of their licensing agreements with Microsoft. As we said last week, Be has a problem on the Intel platform because there are as yet few drivers for its OS. But the real long-term problem, as Gassee would know if he was keeping up with his Registers, is that the OEMs just plain can't do it. Gassee suggests that any free licensee could put BeOS onto its machines alongside Windows, and give buyers the option of selecting it or Windows when they first turn on the machine. But Microsoft's licensing agreements make this practically impossible (see What MS licences really say). The agreements sportingly allow OEMs to do whatever they like as the BIOS kicks in, but as soon as software starts loading off the hard disk on first switch-on, that's Microsoft's turf. Hence OEM VP Joachim Kempin's bizarre suggestions last week that OEMs could advertise their wares by running DR-DOS from the BIOS before the MS software starts loading. Clearly, unless MS is going to vary the OEM agreement in order to let them give the option of a non-MS operating system before the loading procedure starts, would-Be customers can't offer BeOS in the way Gassee suggests. Microsoft did, under OEM pressure, offer an initial choice between Windows 3.11 and Windows 95 when the latter first shipped, but that was then, and they were both MS operating systems anyway. It's also worth noting that the licensing agreements rule out shipping machines with a boot manager preinstalled (non-MS code kicking in after the BIOS), so that's not a route either. Gassee claims he's discussing the notion with one major PC manufacturer, and that he has one unnamed customer (small, presumably) which does ship Be alongside Windows, but keeps very quiet about it because it interprets the licence as meaning it can't display non-Microsoft products during the start-up. The company is of course correct -- you can't run non-MS code, and you can't publicise third-party products. So this company is indeed in breach of its agreement, if it's really shipping BeOS. But the ever-helpful Register has a suggestion (you'll recall we said "practically impossible" above). You could do that DR-DOS BIOS thing, and offer the alternative before the MS software started loading. The tricky thing to do next would be to run a boot manager from the BIOS, but failing this, bundle a BeOS CD, and if they select BeOS, boot from the CD and vape the Windows installation. We think that's clean, so give it a go, Jean-Louis. ®

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
Bladerunner sequel might actually be good. Harrison Ford is in it
Go ahead, you're all clear, kid... Sorry, wrong film
Musicians sue UK.gov over 'zero pay' copyright fix
Everyone else in Europe compensates us - why can't you?
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Euro Parliament VOTES to BREAK UP GOOGLE. Er, OK then
It CANNA do it, captain.They DON'T have the POWER!
Megaupload overlord Kim Dotcom: The US HAS RADICALISED ME!
Now my lawyers have bailed 'cos I'm 'OFFICIALLY' BROKE
Forget Hillary, HP's ex CARLY FIORINA 'wants to be next US Prez'
Former CEO has political ambitions again, according to Washington DC sources
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing and building an open ITOA architecture
Learn about a new IT data taxonomy defined by the four data sources of IT visibility: wire, machine, agent, and synthetic data sets.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
5 critical considerations for enterprise cloud backup
Key considerations when evaluating cloud backup solutions to ensure adequate protection security and availability of enterprise data.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Managing SSL certificates with ease
The lack of operational efficiencies and compliance pitfalls associated with poor SSL certificate management, and how the right SSL certificate management tool can help.