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Be co-founder and COO Steve Sakoman says he was moved by "speculation and misinformation" to issue an open letter yesterday about the future of the desktop OS.

Sakoman gave little away in the form of news, the bigger news was that Be was seen to be doing something about it's former flagship, BeOS.

Since January, Be has effectively cut BeOS loose as a revenue stream, instead concentrating on licensing BeIA for embedded devices - with what appears to be increasing success. However, by describing BeOS merely as their "internal development platform" - it's disties, such as Gobe in the US and Koch in the UK, who do the actual marketing - the temperature of the big ISVs has cooled, with Steinberg and E-Magic among the most prominent refuseniks.

Day release

Sakoman said that the Opera browser for BeIA was almost complete, and the BeOS version would follow. The Personal Java port for the appliance was finished, but Java2 Standard Edition would be completed "over the next few months".

Without the two, newbie users to the OS can't do what they're used to doing on Windows - online banking say, or Hotmail. And that makes any new OEM bundling initiatives - which we understand are on ice given the six-month delay in behaviour remedies in the Antitrust case - much more of a hard sell.

Sakoman added that the BeOS basic media and networking services were getting an overhaul, the emphasis on the former we read as an flag to the big comtent creation ISVs that Be hasn't been neglecting the full OS completely. ISVs can bundle BeOS alongside their applications, as a kind of runtime environment. For those of you with long memories, that's how most copies of pre-version 3.0 Windows were distributed, as enablers for the likes of PageMaker or Ami.

Commitment, commitment

We lobbed a few questions at Steve ourselves, and he played them with an impeccably straight bat. He'd love to see Steinberg and E-Magic write applications for BeOS, but he couldn't comment on their current relationships. As for supporting the ever proliferating number of PC chipsets, no, Be couldn't guarantee near compatibility with all of them (those were our words) while pointing out that it had never really made that kind of commitment before. But it would try.

Be has sewn up respective deals to provide local RF and WAN wireless networking for BeIA appliances, and we wondered if some kind of CDMA/GSM partnership was in the offing, one that could see BeIA in devices like Symbian's Quartz or Crystal communicators? He wouldn't say either way.

It's far from impossible: remember that Nokia's 9000 - which created this category of kind of combined device is an x86 compatible machine, running an AMD 486. But BeIA's screen requirements might need some more tweaks to get there.

Sakoman described the BeIA for home hi-fi and video equipment Aura as a reference platform "without one design", so consumer device manufacturers can take what bits they want. So was Be talking to Sony? No comment. Well, we did ask... ®

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