Who says the OS wars are over?

Summary:LAS VEGAS -- Dressed in a jacket, jeans, and BeOS T-shirt, Jean-Louis Gassee is as understated as his company's operating system. Yet as he pressed the flesh at Fall Comdex, the president and CEO of Be Inc.

LAS VEGAS -- Dressed in a jacket, jeans, and BeOS T-shirt, Jean-Louis Gassee is as understated as his company's operating system. Yet as he pressed the flesh at Fall Comdex, the president and CEO of Be Inc. went out of his way to drum up interest in his startup company's new OS.

"The interest is out there for a real media operating system," said Gassee.

At Comdex, Be engineers showed off their BeOS running on a dual-processor Mac clone, a dual-processor Intel machine, and a Hitachi notebook. The message was clear: Be can run anything the company puts its mind to. Gassee even joked that he might put the BeOS on a handheld computer just to show Windows CE how it's done.

Be casts its new operating system as a leader in handling the large files and broad bandwidth that will be common in the future. The BeOS is a multitasking and multiprocessing system. Multitasking makes the OS responsive -- click on a menu and it appears immediately. Multiprocessing makes it scaleable -- not enough power? Add a processor or three.

Problems were still apparent at the booth. Lack of software and drivers are still plaguing development. The Menlo Park, Calif., company hopes that an early beta release of the Intel version of BeOS will get developers on board. Expect a pre-beta CD-ROM in a few weeks.

Gassee also responded to criticism leveled at him in a recent book written by Wall Street Journal reporter Jim Carlton. In the book, Gassee is fingered as being the man behind Apple's policy not to license the Mac operating system to other computer makers.

Gassee accepts the blame -- to a point.

"It is unreasonable that Jim points his finger at me, without describing the context under which the decisions were made," he said. "Yes, in the past, I may have been wrong, but I am now reformed."

Topics: Operating Systems, Apple, Hardware, Intel, Software, Start-Ups, Windows

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