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January 18th, 2000

[2:25 PM] Be Goes Free, Be, Inc. Announces That Version 5 Will Be Freeware
by Staff

Ever the one for surprises, Jean-Louis Gassée's company has announced that the next version of their operating system will be freeware. Version 5 of BeOS will be free for the download to anyone who registers with the company. The company is also warning of revenue shortfalls as it shifts its focus to working with Internet appliances. According to Be:

Be Incorporated (Nasdaq: BEOS) today announced that it is shifting its resources to focus primarily on the growing Internet appliance market. In order to maximize the visibility and acceptance of Be technology, the upcoming version 5 of the BeOS desktop operating system will be available for personal use at no charge beginning later in the first quarter of 2000. At that time, individuals who register with Be at will be able to download BeOS 5 for free. Be also intends to work with publishers and other partners to make commercial versions of BeOS 5 available through retail channels.

"The post-PC revolution of Internet appliances has started," said Jean-Louis Gassée, chairman and chief executive officer of Be. "Our customers and partners, such as Compaq, National Semiconductor, RealNetworks and Qubit, have validated our belief that Be is well positioned to play an important role in this emerging market. We want to do everything in our power to make the best use of this opportunity. 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."

As a result of this shift in resources and offering BeOS 5 for free, Be will not realize the revenues previously anticipated from sales of the desktop version of its operating system. First Call's consensus estimate of revenues for the year 2000 has been approximately $16,000,000. Analysts estimated that desktop sales for 2000 would account for approximately 85 percent of revenues. This shift will negatively impact future revenues as well.

Be's product for the Internet appliance market is code-named Stinger, a software solution for appliances that deliver information and entertainment over the web. Based on BeOS, Stinger is fully customizable, offers a complete browser and supports popular streaming audio and video standards.

BeOS 5 is the newest version of BeOS, an alternative desktop operating system designed to deliver the most satisfying experience possible on a personal computer. BeOS provides a high-performance and robust platform for all applications, excelling in the areas of audio and video manipulation. Users will be able to download BeOS 5 via a Web browser and store it as a file within their existing operating system (such as Windows). No repartitioning will be necessary, and launching BeOS 5 will be as simple as double-clicking an icon on the desktop.

You can find more information on BeOS version 5, as well as the free program, at the company's web site.

The Mac Observer Spin: This was bound to happen, unfortunately. With the dominance of Microsoft, and the collapse of mainstream alternatives like OS/2, and the decline of the Mac (until Steve Jobs's return), breaking into the computer market with another 3rd party OS has been nothing short of tough. The BeOS is one of the finest operating systems on the planet in terms of power, speed, memory protection, multiprocessing support, and other abilities, but it never gained critical mass. The company's best chance for success as a computing platform was the near buyout by Apple under Gil Amelio. Of course, that was nixed when the decision was made to acquire NeXT instead.

That said, Be has picked up a lot of adherents during the last two years. There will be a lot of angst expressed by these users over how committed Be will remain as they shift their focus. Many BeOS users are former MacOS users who grew discontent with the company during the clone wars and before Apple started fixing many of the problems in the OS. This could be a good opportunity for Apple to win back some of these customers.

Be should be very successful with its new focus. Internet appliances represent the kind of numbers to make a company like Be the money they need to support their efforts. The BeOS is a perfect OS to move into this industry and Mr. Gassée's name dropping in the quote in the press release is actually more than fluff. Those companies listed by Mr. Gassée are heavy hitters and we applaud Be's move and wish them the best of luck!

Be, Inc.

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