Bernd Korz, yellowTAB‘s CEO, was over here tonight and we had a little talk about the progress of the yellowTAB business and the upcoming Zeta 1.0 (screenshots included). Bernd told us that Zeta 1.0 is only a few weeks away and the current betas carry the mark of “goldenmaster”. Zeta pre-1.0 is a lot faster and feature-rich than previous versions we had previewed a year ago, while it’s also less bloated as most third party applications have been removed from the default installations. Here are some key points of the golden master version:
1. A new –better– installer is included, one that goes up to the point fast and easy. NTFS resizing is supported.
2. A new CD-burner tool, called Jaba is included (cdrecord front-end). It looks fabulous and it supports DVD writing as well.
3. A simple home video editing solution might be ready for 1.0 inclusion, but it’s not for sure yet. A PRO version will be available seperately.
4. Bebop supports iPods (no iPod mini support yet).
5. Firefox seems much faster/responsive than before. The kernel and the overall responsiveness of Zeta is much better than in previous versions.
6. Support for up to 2 GB RAM, but even if you have more than that the OS won’t crash like BeOS did (it will just use 2 GBs).
7. A new media player supports ffmpeg and other codecs. H.264 support is coming through ffmpeg.
8. A new ZetaPC-Info app is verbose showing your hardware info and can export to HTML for easy bug reporting.
9. WiFi support is now more robust (still not there fully though). Network profiles are implemented.
10. Metathemes allow for full transformation of the desktop (including Deskbar/Tracker settings, not just colors and wm themes).
11. Many BFS fixes. Better NTFS support, readonly ReiserFS support.
12. External USB driver booting and mounting support.
What’s not there yet: Full support for firewire (some camcorder support is there though), Bluetooth, samba mounting (the cfsmounter front-end does not work at all for me), no support for some Synaptics touchpads, no SiS-chipset motherboard support, some issues with SavagePro DDR cards, no SATA, no hardware OpenGL. Some of these issues will be fixed before 1.0, some in the next major version, some in the very distant future.
Bernd told us that there will be a version of Zeta in the future that will be fully 64bit-compiled and it will be using GCC 4.x (very possibly this version will not be backwards compatible with the 32bit versions of Zeta and its applications because of the way the BeOS/Zeta kernel is done). There are no plans for PowerPC support.
Regarding the business of yellowTAB Bernd appeared very enthusiastic and satisfied about the current sales and pre-orders. He told us that so far they have sold more than 80,000 copies and they expect half a million copies sold of Zeta 1.0. He told us that part of the success of the good sales lately (after January mostly) were the fact that the company hired 5 sales people and also because of the TV commercial. Bernd said that each time their infomercial runs, they sell about 1000 copies for the day, which is a good record for Germany-only.
If I may to make a personal remark: Bernd appeared much more experienced business-wise and more down to earth than when I first met him 1.3 years ago. He knows who his market is, who the competition is, he looks at the competition and tries to find a balance between the giants and his 35-employee company. He told us that “BeOS 5 is at least that faaaaar from Mac/Windows in terms of features today. With Zeta we have managed to make that distance significantly smaller. Hopefully, one day we will be able to have enough resources to innovate and offer unique groundbreaking features and compete head to head with Mac and Windows.” Bernd is a realist and this is always the first step to a successful business plan and product.
Expect a full review of Zeta 1.0 when it’s released.