Little Be Inc., makers of the PowerPC-based BeOS, demonstrated a version of its object-oriented, multithreaded, multitasking, protected memory operating system running on Intel hardware this week. The demonstration, occurring this week at Software Development 98 in San Francisco, also promises a final release version of the OS in late March.

Be became famous in late 1996 when it was widely thought that Apple Computer would buy the company and use its OS as the next-generation MacOS. Those plans were dashed by Steve Jobs, who convinced Apple to buy his own NeXT Software instead, for more than twice as much money. Since then, CEO and chairman Jean-Louis Gassee has pushed Be to produce a version of its OS for Intel computers. Gassee has no misconceptions about the market, however: he realizes that the Be OS will never displace Windows. Rather, he sees the BeOS being useful working in conjunction with Windows.

The main focuses of the BeOS are simplicity, stability, and the ability to effectively use more than one CPU. Gassee would like to see the BeOS become the leading development platform for multimedia, such as audio and video. Be calls people who work in this field "digital designers," many of whom are former Amiga users. The reception to the BeOS in strong Amiga markets such as Europe has been tremendous, he says.

Be will make the first version of its BeOS for Intel available to customers during a Be developers conference on March 19. Pricing has yet to be determined, though it is expected to be similar in price to the PowerPC version, which costs $49.95. For more information about Be and the BeOS, please visit the Be Web site