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Amiga CEO confirms software-only strategy

Company's plan has "nothing" to do with original Amiga

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Amiga CEO and president Tom Schmidt has come clean about the company's new direction. As reported previously, the company is getting out of the hardware business to pursue a multi-platform middleware strategy. In his latest Executive Update, posted last week, Schmidt takes the hints he dropped in his previous Update a stage further. He admits the company is focused on "setting software standards for the coming generation of Internet appliances". Those standards, he claims, "will open up the an exciting new era of software development". It's a shame Schmidt doesn't go into details. The Update suggests Amiga is continuing to develop the successor to AmigaOS, the so-called Amiga Operating Environment (AOE) with its basis on the Linux kernel. But Schmidt also says the company is working with "other operating systems that support Java". That opens the company to all the mainstream OSes out there, and suggests Amiga is porting its AmigaObjects technology to them. AmigaObjects was always based on Java, and Schmidt's statement implies that all an OS needs to support Amiga's middleware is an up-to-date Java Virtual Machine. So here we have Amiga offering an operating system for set-tops and the necessary technology to allow those set-tops to talk to PCs on the home network and servers via the Internet. Of course, offering software is one thing -- getting set-top vendors to use it is something else. Still, casting off hardware development should help Amiga convey to potential customers that it's not out to compete with them and that it's eye really is on the Internet appliance ball and not constantly glancing back to its hardware heritage. However, Schmidt does out a hand to any hardware vendors who would like to pick up where Amiga's now abandoned multimedia convergence computer (MCC) project left off. If Amiga's plans to deliver the MCC were "unrealistic" -- a none too subtle dig at his predecessor, Jim Collas; "after the change of management, we reviewed all our product plans" -- others may fare better, Schmidt reckons, and is willing to license what remains of the MCC project. In essence the MCC will remain as the reference platform for other vendors' set-top hardware projects if they want one, but Amiga is keener on selling them a software set-up. Anyone interested in pursuing the original Amiga platform will fare less well. While Schmidt states his willingness to seek out partners willing to pursue that market, reading between the lines it's clear the new Amiga won't be much help. Schmidt's partners will develop "a next-generation Amiga computer and operating system [our italics]". In short, Amiga is no longer working on AmigaOS or even AOE's backward compatibility with it -- bodies likes the Phoenix Platform Consortium will have to do that themselves. ®

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