To this very day, this BeOS demonstration video from Be, Inc. blows my mind. I’m not entirely sure about the date of the video, but since we’re looking at Pentium IIs and the Intel version of the BeOS, I’m guessing we’re in 1998. This means that while Windows users were barely getting by with Windows 98, and Mac users did not look at their Macs funny because otherwise Mac OS House Of Cards Edition would come crumbling down, the BeOS was doing the awesome stuff shown in the video.
Taking chronology into account, the BeOS was and is the best operating system ever made. I’m far from impartial on this one, of course, but there has never been a piece of software that generated that same sense of wonder, excitement, and exhilaration that the BeOS did. It sure wasn’t perfect, but it had so much personality, such a strong identity, and even a sense of humour – the stuff we have today just can’t compare. iOS and OS X are clearly designed to lock you into buying as much Apple hardware as possible. Android and Chrome OS are designed to keep you staring at Google ads for as long as possible. Windows is Windows. Linux is the same mess it’s always been (I’m sorry).
None of them are about putting the consumer and technology at the centre.
When the first Haiku alpha was released, I explained how with the demise of Be, something in this industry died with it. I once had the faint, faint hope that the mobile revolution would reignite that spark of insanity, but with Apple and Google dividing and conquering this industry almost overnight, and with ARM devices being an ungodly mess of restrictions and proprietary crap, we’re farther away from those glory days than we’ve ever been, with fewer and fewer signs of them ever returning.
The BeOS is the best example of why our industry is so utterly broken. BeOS exemplifies that the best does not win. And if the best does not win, we are being held back.