Editor's Note: The following are in response to my editorial in the May 1998 (Volume 2 Issue 10) issue, entitled "In Response, and Furthermore.." Quoted sections of that editorial have been clipped, where possible without loss of clarity. My Response follows. =-=MRW=-=
I wasn't going to write so much, but since you said so many things I didn't agree with this is going to be a very long document, I'm sorry for that!
First of all, the Amiga is owned by Amiga Inc., not Gateway. This simple fact seems to elude most people's perceptions of what is really going on with the Amiga. Gateway simply looks at the business plan and approve or disapprove depending on the merits of the business plan, that is all. No love or hate towards the Amiga. The "love" for the Amiga comes from the people from Amiga Inc. who truly care about the Amiga spirit.
Second, if you (or anybody) can't see the merits of an open platform, then you haven't looked around to see what works and what doesn't work in the computing business. You can have it one way or the other, but not both! You either produce your own computers, or let somebody else do it for you. The stories of IBM and Apple are the perfect examples of the merits and disadvantages of both strategies. Recently Apple learned first hand this lesson. You can't license your technology, and at the same time try to compete with the same people you have licenses with. It just doesn't work!
The problem is that you seem to suggest that producing and resurrecting the current Amiga technology will save the Amiga, when in fact Amiga Inc. (just like all of us who had to switch platforms to survive) know that this would be a waist of time and money. Only NEW technology can save the Amiga. I know many people can't see this, either because they are trying to protect their current investment or they just can't see the reality of the computing market, but current Amiga technology CAN NOT save the Amiga.
And please realize, this includes PPC. People just can't seem to understand that to re-write the Amiga Kernel (Intuition) would take YEARS!!! Yes, YEARS!!! I keep hearing all this messages about Phase 5 and how they have sustained the Amiga with PPC, well in case you didn't noticed, those PPC cards are NOT Amiga compatible. They require a different object format and do not support the basic elements of Intuition like dynamic libraries and other multitasking timing elements are completely different.
YES! They changed their minds! Is that so hard to accept. They were (and still are) in a process of R&D evaluating different technologies to incorporate or base future Amigas on. Jeff said it several times, many plans where shown to Gateway until the final decision was made. I'm sure PPC was an option at one time, but the current direction seems to be better for performance and price ratio.
The only problem is that ZorroIV doesn't exist. And if it was developed it would take at least a year to develop and integrate to the current Amiga OS. Then again the OS would have to be rewritten, at least partially, to accommodate the new timing issues, so why not adopt the new BX 100Mhz PCI bus? Already developed, twice as fast as Zorro, and with thousands of available peripherals available, into the new Amiga and develop it along with the new Amiga OS. Doesn't that make more sense?
I guess you see my point after all... :)
This are very good concerns that we all share. I think the time frame is possible since the Kernel will be an established Kernel with all the functionality we always wanted in Intuition. And if Amiga Inc. chooses the Be Kernel, it even includes libraries and data types just like the Amiga OS. The operating system can be written fairly quick once the Kernel is adopted finished.
Well, what incentive is there now to use Amigas besides already owning one? Amiga users are going to start to realize that the future of the Amiga will be very different than what it is now. The OS will be more portable so I'm almost sure we will some day see Amiga OS running in many different hardware. I do agree there are some features that make the Amiga unique, Low Overhead, OS Speed etc., and those should be maintain.
Unfortunately, like I mentioned before, to re-write and improve Intuition with all the features a modern (futuristic) OS should have (memory protection, multiprocessing, hardware independence, scalability) will take YEARS and thousands of man hours, unlike what most people (including you) think. So it would actually be MORE expensive and it would take longer to re-write Intuition than aquire other modern Kernel. You make it sound so simple, when in fact it is tremendously complicated! Most people don't know that the Kernel has almost NOTHING to do with the look of the OS and how it behaves. You could, if you wanted, write Workbench 3.1 over the Be Kernel, but why? :)
Allow me to disagree. We need to move forward. And bringing the current Amiga OS (as it is now) with us would be more of an anchor than help. If you want to get stuck with a blotted, backwards compatible, Amiga98 OS then keep complaining about the future of the Amiga, as long as you know what you are asking for, you have the right to ask for it.
I do understand that many people are angry about this and it is understandable, but you can't put all the blame on Amiga Inc. Phase 5 decided, on it's won, that the future of the Amiga was going to be PPC. The Amiga community wasn't asked about it. Way before there was any talk about PPC at Amiga Inc., Phase 5 was planning to take over the Amiga community by developing it's own PPC based machine (A/Box) and OS to support this machine. Their intentions all along (until Amiga Inc. showed up) were to migrate to PPC (not necessarily) Amiga and bring as many Amiga users along as possible with an "Amiga like" OS. They said it themselves. Very nobel effort, but they came WAY short in 4 years of development.
Amiga Inc. has NO obligation to follow a path set by another company, specially since there are other options much more appealing for the future of the Amiga. Jeff knew this was going to be very tough for many people, that's why he said at St. Louis that there are good times ahead but also bad times for many Amiga users and developers. Life goes on.
With all due respect, you speak as if you didn't know anything about the Amiga. Amiga Inc.'s purpose is R&D, this can not be done over night and with out a business plan, reinforced by an appropriate budget. Gateway has done the MOST important thing of all, sign the checks, and there has been a LOT of them. Amiga International was and will continue to be a sales office. And they will sell whatever products are available.
The only thing that has been "crippled" has been the decision to make PPC the official future of the Amiga. A decision that wasn't made by Amiga Inc. in the first place. All other Phase 5 products support current Amigas, so they will be useful until the end of the millennium.
Are you kidding me? The Amiga platform IS DEAD. What is this trouble you are speaking off? The current amiga user base is only a few thousand people, do you seriously expect Amiga Inc. (or ANY company) to spend MILLIONS of dollars to accommodate the current user base who seems to prefer the "status quo"? This sounds harsh, and it is! I'm not trying to demean anybody, but the time has come to make drastic desisions for the future of the Amiga, and those hard decisions are not going to please every body.
What "tried and true" companies are you speaking of? Phase 5? Their PPC project is YEARS from being completed. Only the hardware seems to be done. It will take years (if they ever finish) to convert Amiga OS to PPC.
They have truly taken on a monumental task, but unlike previous attempts by other inept companies, Amiga Inc. has a tremendous asset, the big pockets of Gateway who also stand to benefit from the success of the Amiga. And the renewed interest of (millions) previous Amiga owners (like me) who want (desperately) the new Amiga to be a grand success!
Let me finish by saying this; although we seem to differ in some points, no matter what your position is now concerning the future of Amiga, if the Amiga ever returns to the forefront of computing it will be because of people like you (not like me), who held the torch high even when nobody was watching, and we all, present and future Amiga owners, owe a debt of gratitude to current Amiga owners (like you) for allowing the future to happen.
In response to your latest editorial:
"Primarily, I'm troubled by the idea that Amiga Inc. is going to look to a third party for the basis of the kernel of the next AmigaOS."
Me too. I'd certainly like to hear the reasoning behind this. If there are some technical reasons, let us know.
Phase 5 has practically the whole field to itself in the area of PPC accellerators. This hasn't changed because of the announcement. Anyone who has an Amiga still has the same set of reasons to buy a PPC card that they had before the announcement. I am still saving money to get a PowerUp board. I want faster 3D rendering now, not in 1.5 to 2 years. The new Amigas may be a completely different animal, and I will buy one when they appear, but I won't stop using and upgrading my 4000 until it stops running, or (here's the rub) I start spending serious money on the new Amiga. Somehow, I think Phase5 will survive and be involved with the new Amigas. There is time for them to figure out how to do this. I am going to suggest to them that they start developing the non-linear video editing hardware and software, with audio and midi, that the new Amiga will need. Try a new direction. Take advantage of the new horizon instead of dreading it.
This plan gives the Amiga a distinct advantage over the Wintel/Mac platforms... they have the considerable weight of backwards compatibility slowing them down. This bold a move is impossible for Wintel or Mac. Now that AI has steered in this new direction it's time to stomp down hard on the gas pedal, not the brakes. I would have loved to see the existing Amigas evolve into a world-beating computer platform, but that plan probably had too much inertia to get it rolling soon enough. I suppose we'll never know now. They've chosen revolution instead of evolution. Ok, then, let's DO IT!
Michael J. Masquith
Senior Associate Programmer
Tools & Automation Department
Thanks for the comprehensive feedback.
I stand by what I said. All indications say that Amiga Inc. is starting a new platform with the Amiga label. I can't speak for everybody, but I personally have stuck with the Amiga because I like it for what it is, not because I envy some engineering blueprints of what it is promised to be. I would have liked to see a bit more familiarity retained.
I am very much going to play this by ear. I'm staying with the Amiga as long as it retains what I like about it. If Amiga Inc. accomplishes that, great. But from what they have said, I have my doubts; and either way, I foresee a bumpier ride than I would have preferred, and than I feel is truly necessary.
As this is such a controversial subject, we would be interested in hearing more readers' opinions.
Publisher and Editor-in-Chief
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