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© 1997-2006
Gareth Knight
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Amiga Operating Environment (OE)

Developer: Gateway/Amiga Inc.
Year of Announcement: 1998/9

It was the dream...
The Amiga Operating Environment was an entirely new operating system designed for the emerging convergence market and a clean break from AmigaOS 3.x. To indicate that this was an entirely new platform, Amiga broke from traditional naming convention and dubbed it an environment in which you would work. Devised as part marketing concept, it became an indicator of the revolutionary nature of the product. In the words of the Amiga Tech Brief, the Amiga OE is designed to "provide a host environment for a new class of portable applications." This would allow transparent access between current personal computers, appliances, set-top boxes, and game machines, through the implementation of various networking standards.

In July 1999 it was announced that the Amiga OE would be based upon the Linux kernel rather than QNX. This raised concern when it was announced on the Internet . Linux seems contrary too the Amiga philosophy. It seemed that Amiga were dumping the Amiga EXEC and all the baggage that included (a lack of memory protection, resource tracking, etc), and accepting all-new baggage. In particular there were concerns about the OS footprint and TCP/IP problems. Amiga seem to accept these problems and state they are being actively worked on by none other than the creator of Linux, Linus Torvalds.

There was also concern that very few operating systems handle multimedia as well as the Amiga originally did. This is a problem that Amiga seem to be working on. Although this problem has prevented Linux from breaking into the mainstream, at the time Amiga seemed confident the Amiga OE would become the choice for multimedia, indicating they worked with a range of companies to implement a 3D graphics engine, as well as DVD decoder (incorporating MPEG 2 support) and AC-3 digital surround sound.

The final revision of the Amiga OE environment before it was cancelled was be built upon the X Windows window system, allowing Linux applications to be easily recompiled on the Amiga. It would also allow the user customisation of a window environment. A suite of differing end-user workspaces were to be bundled with the Amiga OE, including a new Amiga Workbench.

AmigaOS Compatibility

Support for "Classic" Amiga applications would have been through an emulator that will run in the User Environment. Speculation suggests it could be an advanced version of UAE or a hardware emulation that uses the Transmeta processor to emulate a 68k. There are a number of questions but very few answers.

As part of the portable nature of the Amiga OE, many of the "pieces" that make the environment were designed to be portable to embedded systems. Systems offering partial Amiga OE compatibility were be deemed Class One units, only using sections of the Amiga Information Appliance Environment.

The Technology Brief also refers to AmigaObjects as "the foundation on which all Amiga Operating Environment services are built." Applications using the AmigaObject architecture will be "net-aware" by default allowing them to be run over a network or device. This would allow a user to access resources such as a TV tuner from a computer in the bedroom and display the output on a computer in the living room. It is unclear how AmigaObjects would have worked, but it seems to act as the "glue" that joins the codec's together. A number of existing technologies will be used to access hardware, including Java, Jini, and OpenGL. AmigaObject applications will be programmed in the portable Java language. This may seem to be a strange idea, Java applications are extremely slow. The idea behind it is that AmigaObject technology can be embedded in a range of small devices such as hand-held computers as well as high-end servers. Pervasive networking lies at the heart of AmigaObjects and the Amiga OE. The Amiga OE will integrate emerging standards such as HomePNA by Broadcom/Epigram. As standards are set, Amiga hope to incorporate these into AmigaObjects.

With the new Amiga object technology and integration of these standards, the home will become "the computer,” including seamless high-speed connection to the Internet.
- Amiga Tech Brief
Release
The release date slipped back over a year since it was announced. The initial release date specified at the World of Amiga 1998 was late 1998 for the Developers Box, followed by Autumn 1999 for the MCC. This slipped until the final announcement of beta test in the 3rd quarter of 1999, followed by its release sometime during the fourth quarter. Even if the shift in OS partner had not affected the company it is unlikely they could have met their schedule. 
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Last Update: 1/11/2001
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