Now that the legal issues around the AmigaOS have been cleared up, it is time to look towards the future of the Amiga operating system. At the two Amiga shows, a lot of talk took place on the two upcoming versions of the Amiga operating system - 4.1.1 and 4.2 - and both of them are packed to the brim with useful and welcome new features and changes.
As the version scheme suggests, this is supposed to be a minor update to the operating system, and as such, it will be a free upgrade, and it will run on the AmigaOne, Pegasos II, and sam440ep-based systems. It's not finished yet, so any of the below new features might not make it into the final release.
It seems like Hyperion is putting a lot of effort into 'the little things' with the 4.1.1 release. In my review of AmigaOS 4.1 on the sam440ep, I mentioned several little 'Amigaisms' that while useful and second nature to veterans of the platforms, only served as annoyances to newcomers like me. These Amigaisms are mostly relics from a time when computing power and storage space came at a premium.
Hyperion is looking to address a lot of these small issues - and my favourite one of them all is that contents of
folder (aargh) drawer windows will update automatically, so you will no longer have to invoke the update command whenever the contents of a drawer you're currently viewing changes.
In addition, utilities such as ContextMenus and ClickToFront will run by default on AmigaOS 4.1.1. ClickToFront allows you to double-click anywhere in a window to bring it to to the front of the window stack - a very useful piece of kit. The good thing about changes like these is that veteran Amiga users can easily revert back to the 'old' way of doing things, while new users don't have to feel so intimidated.
The installer will also be made more user-friendly, and the WbStartup folder (used to house startup items) will be replaced by a StartUp preferences panel. A pop-up notification system will also find its way to AmigaOS 4.1.1, so that any application registered to application.library can send notifications to the notification server (Ringhio).
A lot of cosmetic changes will come to the AmigaOS too with this release, such as scalable icons on the Workbench screen - these icons are new, too. It will also ship with a new, more modern theme, but it is not yet certain if it will be activated by default.
I'm still not done here - this really is a big update. It will come with automatic monitor configuration (DCC), better USB support (maybe even USB 2.0 support), a new and improved Intuition, special versions of Tunenet, SimpleMail, and maybe other programs, and lots of bug fixes that should affect sam440ep users especially.
That's quite the list, isn't it? Let's move on to the next big release currently in the pipeline.
Update: The original poster has added some more information about possible new features coming in AmigaOS 4.1.1:
- A "launch handler" that allows you to configure which program opens a specific filetype, or even offer you a choice of several differenr programs. Like OpenURL, but unlike DefIcons, I believe the settings will NOT be stored in the icon, and therefore you won't have to update every single icon when you change your settings. It also sounds like it will be used to provide an official replacement of OpenURL.
- Automatic tracking of where programs are stored (needs to be a suitably written program like OWB or TuneNet), so that if you move them then the OS remembers their new location the next time you run it. I guess it might be used by the new APPDIR: device that I saw mentioned - so perhaps you can have APPDIR:TuneNet, and it will run TuneNet from where-ever it is stored.
- Better support for GUI Styles/Themes, so that you can easily make OS4 Windows look like a Mac, BeOS, etc. (This had been demoed some years ago, and they are looking to add it back in.) (I suspect this may have to wait until OS4.1.2, but the official word is that it should make it for OS4.1.1)
- The Calculator has finally been improved! Now supports some scientific & programming functions, if you want it to. Personally I will find this invaluable.
There were also a few things that most likely won't make it into 4.1.1, but which may be held back for a release between 4.1.1 and 4.2. There's no version number set aside for this one, but it would make sense to call it 4.1.2. It should get a new shell with support for tabs and scrollbars, as well as a command history and auto-completion. It is also said USB 2.0 support might make it into 4.1.2.
This will be new release of the AmigaOS, and will most likely not be free. For this one, Hyperion is planning to do some serious plumbing work. SMP support is planned, but this will probably not be completed entirely for the 4.2 release - massive changes like this usually span a number of releases. USB support will be further improved, and, of course, if USB 2.0 doesn't make it in time for 4.1.1, it will appear in 4.2. A lot of work will also be done improving support for printers,
Then there's the graphics department. AmigaOS 4.2 will ship with a new graphics subsystem, and more stuff will be moved to the GPU. There's also talk of Java support in 4.2, but this one will likely also span multiple releases.
More stuff is in the works, but they're keeping some things under wraps.
Hyperion has been talking about something called their "Most Ambitious Project", but to this date, nobody knows what it's about. A lot of people think it will be new Amiga hardware, and the focus on bringing SMP support to AmigaOS may indicate a multicore Amiga on the horizon.
Firefox is currently being ported to the AmigaOS too, under the banner of Timberwolf. This is not a commercial project, but there is a 3000 USD bounty for this one. There might be a first alpha release before the end of the year.
Interesting note: between 10 and 30 developers have worked on the AmigaOS4 at any given time. The number is currently "in the high teens".
I must say, I am very, very impressed with this massive list of improvements coming to the Amiga. I think I speak for all of us here on OSNews when I say that it is very refreshing to see the AmigaOS4 being so openly discussed, with no legal rumblings going on.
I emailed ACube earlier this week, asking them to arrange for a pickup of their sam440ep machine which I used for the review - it's still sitting here under my desk, getting some uptime whenever I feel like it. I silently hope I get to hold on to it a little longer, just until 4.1.1 arrives.
Ssssh, don't tell anyone!