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Next BeOS release dropped to make way for PIII, USB support

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Alternative operating-system vendor Be has dropped an intermediate release of the BeOS, version 4.1, in favour of a major release, version 4.5, due to ship in June. The software's release will be accompanied by a major marketing push. According to new Be VP and Chief Marketing Officer Roy Graham, speaking at last week's two-day Be Developers Conference (BDC), BeOS 4.5, codenamed Genki (Japanese for 'all is well', apparently), the decision to drop the anticipated Release 4.1 was made to allow the company to add support for the Pentium III, USB and 3dfx's Voodoo3 3D acceleration chipset. Release 4.1 was originally about extending the BeOS' currently meagre support for third-party hardware as it makes the transition from a MacOS alternative to a Windows rival. Genki too will feature more, improved drivers, and offer improved stability and take up less memory. Be has also enhanced the OS' multimedia API, the Media Kit, said Graham. "What you're going to get is not just a richer product, in terms of features and functions, but a quality product," he boasted. Graham also discussed a "viral marketing campaign", due to go into action with the release of Genki. He gave no specific details of the programme, but it's clear from what his own comments, and those of Be CEO Jean-Louis Gassee, that it's likely to be Be's first serious attempt to attract a wider audience to the BeOS, previously targeted at developers, multimedia companies and enthusiasts. With the latter turning to Linux and the Open Source world and multimedia developers moving back to the much-revived Apple, Be is in danger of losing its core constituencies. Gassee's message at the BDC suggested developers should bear consumers, particularly video and audio enthusiasts, in mind -- they are the ones, he said, with "our money". ®

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