Report From Computer 98

From: mheine@uni-hannover.de (Martin Heine)
Newsgroups: comp.sys.amiga.misc
Subject: Cologne / Sober Analysis of the "Sober Analysis"
Date: Sat, 14 Nov 1998 22:43:00
Reply-To: Senex@gmx.de

> Don't do anything rash on my account. If you go, you can give us a
> report. : )

Well, I've been there - and I really don't regret it!!!

Since still nobody else did, I'll give you a few infos about the press conference - but there's no warranty all I'll mention is correct, especially because the conference was not held in my native language.

(Btw: Since I'll have to write this quick, the result will be horrible German-English; but I think you'll understand it anyway and since there's no other report yet in this NG this seems to be better than nothing.)

Already just from having met the people of AI and the one of the two QNX-presidents who was there as well has reassured me. I'm quite certain we will get what we want.

The conference was delayed. It was planned to make one exclusive first for the press, later the one for the public. But because of technical problems with the demonstration - at least I suppose this was the reason - this delayed. Therefore we were waiting before the room.

Bill came out, said that it would be delayed, thanked us for our interest and patience and said in return to the delay he would let come some drinks for us: "Is this okay?" - Well, we didn't refused very much to accept this... =)

Some time later he came again, said that it would delay a little bit more. He told us that it was originally planned to have that separate exclusive press-conference first, than the one for the public. So we sighed, expecting that we would have to wait even longer. But unexpectedly Bill offered that we could combine them, making just one conference for all, because of the delay. He asked us just to leave the first rows of seats in the room for the press. - Well, when the doors finally opened some minute later, and the crowd of Amiga-Fanatics stormed into the room, the "let first the press into the room" was no longer valid... :)

At the conference were Jeff, Allan, Bill and Darreck of AI and of course Petro of AII. Additional there was one of the two presidents of QNX, but in the beginning he was sitting in the auditorium.

In the auditorium was also someone from the german TV-channel ZDF. Therefore we can expect that the big news of the Amiga-QNX-cooperation will be reported correctly by them.

At first Petro was speaking. The only new thing was that he confirmed that AII will build further A4000T using the parts from Quikpak, Mr. Hembach gave his okay. Petro said Mr.Hembach would be a nice guy, but the auditorium made clear it thought different about him... :) The Amiga-parts from Quikpak are currently shipping on the ocean, he told us.

Then Bill spoke some introducing sentences and gave the word to Jeff, than spoke Allan. Some details about OS3.5 and OS5 were told, but nothing really new.

And then the big news - the OS-Kernel-partner is QNX. A murmur went through the auditorium, many were disappointed in the beginning, because they did not know QNX and had expected a better known company like Be or Sun. But after the demonstrations they were certainly all as convinced as I that QNX is the best possible choice.

Although it was already said in this NG that QNX is the partner and that their homepage is www.qnx.com, nobody told you that they are big Amigans! Many of their (IMHO 16) developers have an Amiga, and this even includes both presidents of QNX. The president told that the first computers he and his co-founder bought for the company (that was 1981) were PCs - but the first computers both they bought for private use at home were A1000s!

He told us that he got due to the cooperation with AI spots of coffee in their office - because when they told this to their employees and asked them who of them would own an Amiga, some of them were currently standing at the coffee-machine... =)

So you see we do not only have a very good Kernel-partner but even one who knows the Amiga - and loves it and is therefore excited to cooperate with AI for a comeback of Amiga. Corresponding were his words about Microsoft... :) Again we were told at the show that Amiga will be as much ahead the competitors when it's re-introduced as it was the first time.

QNX architecture is very stable (as it has to, being even used in the Space Shuttle; wouldn't like to see Windows installed there, if I were an astronaut) and very compact. Those who were already on their homepage may have found their demo disk - surf the web not from HD but only from a small 1.44MB-disk. The disk was demonstrated as well.

The new AmigaOS microkernel will be QNX' "Neutrino". It is extremely modular, so it fits the needs of AI's DC-plans: from settop-box to workstation you'll have the same kernel core and add as much components as needed for the specific device. Something new in computing is their GUI "Photon" - it's the first microGUI. For details please look at their Homepage.

They demonstrated QNX RTOS and the auditorium was impressed. Demonstrating the abilities of the GUI, he showed us a window not only as used from it's "front", but also from it's side - i.e. just a vertical line, because the window was 2D, of course.

Then he demonstrated how a programm running in a window on one computer was retargeted to another computer without any delay and easily back by clicking on a button on the window-border for this purpose.

Also it was shown that the demo-programm was on both computers at the same time, so that any action (for example mouse-movement to press a button in this demo-program, a card-game) could be done from each computer.

Because of the QNX-architecture it is very easy to spread the tasks for example of a Raytracer to many other computers to speed it up.

But most impressive was the following. He started Doom in a window and moved the window around while Doom was running without any impairments. No, this wasn't what I meant to be impressive. Very impressive was what happened when he moved the doom-window to the right border of the screen: as much as it got beyond the screenborder of the first computer, it appeared at the left border of the second computer's screen! So he moved the window from the one computer's screen step by step on the other's one. Then he drew it back a bit, so that the left half of the still running Doom was on the one computer's screen, the other one on the other's.

After the conference we had half an hour to speak individually with Petro, Jeff, Allan and the president of QWX (a very nice man, like the AI-crew).

Regarding the Sober Analysis-Thread it seems I were wrong. I thought the OS-partner would be "BIG" in the meaning of well-known, rich and with certain influence. (But the reality is much better in my opinion, too.) But now it seems that the whole project is really something AI has initiated, therefor I admit my speculations were wrong. Looking at AI, QNX and - maybe - Transmeta, we have three small companies that fit very good together, being "BIG" in quality but not in quantity and complementing each other.

I did not ask Jeff about my former speculation regarding AI may not be the initiator of this project, because I talked to others before, and when I came to Jeff again the time was already more than over and he was already talking with a woman (I suppose it was his wife) about other stuff, the computers were already removed and I was already the last user who was there, so I decided not to disturb him. But looking at the facts as they are now, it's very likely this was initiated by AI, especially being aware that they were at first thinking about another OS-partner. Obviously they heard about Transmeta (or whoever the MMC-maker is, but the details and the time of the patent (because it was said they'll tell us MMC-maker's name around this time, i.e. in January) make it somewhat likely) due to their GW-relationship and found later QNX; as they told due to the WOA-announcement - maybe due to it the QNX-Amigans heard about AI and their plans and contacted them then.

Instead of this I asked the QNX-president about another topic - because they licence their technology to many third parties I wanted to know if it could happen that they licence it to a competitor of AI as well or if Amiga would have exclusive access to their technology.

But now I notice that I didn't tell yet something about the very big question that rose out of their cooperation: Why did they cooperate with AI instead of doing it all at their own since they already have a running RT-OS? What's their benefit? Well, AI's work will mainly be to implement the APIs. As Jeff told us they'll use standard APIs like OpenGL where standards are and that they'll implement new ones where necessary - there he sees a chance for AI setting new standards. The QNX-president told IMHO (I did not understand all, and the bit I heard had still to be translated) that the reason why they cooperate with AI is that they want to concentrate on their kernel, while AI has to make a full OS out of it for the DC-market. QNX is small regarding employees but of a good quality because they focus on this core and care there about every detail, he told us.

And regarding the question if AI has to fear competition licencing the same technology the president told me that he could not tell me more about this topic due to contracts but he gave me the impression that this would not be their aim - their licenced partner for the market-segment of Digital Convergence is Amiga Inc.

All in all I have to say that I'm very satisfied with what I've heard and seen at Cologne and that I'm sure AI do their work very well and therefore will have a certain chance. Anyway I doubt very much that it will be easy to be successful, because since the partner is no "BIG" company in the definition I gave above it will be harder to get a foot into the markets. And, to add this, I wouldn't count that much on GW's money regarding this. After the official part of the conference Jeff stressed again on the question about the relationship GW-AI that GW keeps AI very separate; GW does it's PC-business, AI does it's Amiga-business.

So far about my memories of the press conference. Hope I could tell some users a little bit new.

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