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Be preps BeOS-in-Windows ‘Trojan Horse’

Trial version coming soon, says CEO Gassee

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Alternative OS developer Be is preparing a version of its BeOS that operates as an application under Windows - described by the company's CEO, Jean-Louis Gassee as "the ultimate Trojan Horse".

Gassee told TechWeek, that the program was being developed to counter Microsoft's insistence that PC vendors are not allowed to offer dual-boot Windows/BeOS systems. 'BeOS Lite' will be offered as a free download and positioned as a trial version of the operating system, Gassee said. "You don't have to partition anything, and it's like a Windows application," he said. "In fact, it's the Be operating system with a set of trial applications. It's not a full version of the OS, but you will have a good feel for what it's like."

For Be, it's a smart move, arguably one the company should have embraced before. After all, it's not a particularly new idea. Cutting down an operating system and running it off a Windows partition has been tried before, most notably by various Linux distributors. It's simply a matter of wrapping the OS's native file system onto Windows.

There's a small performance hit, but that's not too much of a problem when you're offering a 'try it for size' version of your OS. It will certainly be interesting to see how successful Be's trial version is once it's released - Gassee gave no hints here.

The snag with products like these is that the kind of user interested in testing different operating systems are the very people who are happy doing all that fiddly partitioning stuff. Folk frightened off by that degree of hard disk jiggery-pokery are those least likely to be interested in moving away from Windows (or the MacOS, or whatever).

Corel will have to face up to this problem with its new Linux distribution: the people who most need an OS that's easy to install and use - the raison d'etre of Corel Linux - are those least likely to install another OS. Still, making it a darn sight easier to try out BeOS has to be welcomed, and if Be wants to increase its customer base beyond the 100,000 or so users it has right now, this is clearly a step in the right direction. ®

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