Be to offer free version of its latest OS

Version 5 for the desktop will be available for download to pre-registered individuals. The company says it is re-focusing on the Internet appliance market

Be said Tuesday that will offer the newest version of its operating system for free later this quarter.

Version 5 for the desktop will be available for download to pre-registered individuals. Be will also work with publishers and other partners to distribute the software.

The move is designed to "maximise the visibility and acceptance of Be technology," the company said.

"Making the free version of BeOS 5 available through the Internet and other channels allows us to aggressively promote our technology, maximize our visibility and obtain valuable market feedback while aggressively pursuing Internet appliance opportunities," CEO Jean-Louis Gassee said in a release.

The company said today that was re-focusing the company on the Internet appliance market. Be is developing the OS for its Stinger technology, software for appliances that deliver information and entertainment over the Web. Be said Stinger is customisable, includes a browser and supports popular streaming audio and video standards.

The giveaway will obviously have an impact on the company's forthcoming revenues. Be said analysts predicted that around 85 percent of its expected $16m (£9.92m) in 2000 sales would have come from the desktop market.

Also today, the company announced that it has named Steve Sakoman chief operating officer. Sakoman formerly served as vice president of engineering at Apple, where he was director of CPU development managing the hardware group.

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