..will of course be written by a District Court Judge in the great city of San Francisco.
The BeOS community, now washed up on the shore of a nearby deserted island, can watch the captain of their soon-to-be-scuttled ship attempt to extract some sense of pride as he tries to dent the enemy Dreadnought on the way down.
Ramming Speed, Mr. Kawasaki!
Not that Microsoft doesn’t deserve these constant, bothersome wranglings, but if the truth must be told, Be really did do it to themselves.
Still, I admire Gassee’s panache.
Tuesday February 19, 7:48 pm Eastern Time
Be sues Microsoft for ‘destruction’ of business (UPDATE: Updates with Microsoft reaction, details, adds byline)
By Scott Hillis
SEATTLE, Feb 19 (Reuters) – Be Inc. (NasdaqNM:BEOS – news), the failed maker of a computer operating system hailed by some as an elegant rival to Microsoft Corp.’s (NasdaqNM:MSFT – news) dominant Windows platform, said on Tuesday it is suing the software giant for allegedly destroying its business through anti-competitive practices. ADVERTISEMENT
Be, which sold most of its assets last year to handheld computer maker Palm Inc. (NasdaqNM:PALM – news), said in a filing in federal court in San Francisco that Microsoft struck deals with PC makers barring them from installing more than one operating system on computers they sold.
“Microsoft harmed Be through a series of illegal exclusionary and anti-competitive acts designed to maintain its monopoly in the Intel-compatible PC operating system market,” Be said in the statement.
Be said the acts resulted in the “destruction” of its business.
The suit is the latest legal headache for Microsoft, which is battling a U.S. government antitrust suit as well as private class action suits and a new case filed by rival AOL Time Warner Inc. (NYSE:AOL – news) alleging Microsoft harmed its Netscape browser unit.
“This sort of litigation is not in the interests of consumers, nor is it good for the industry,” Microsoft spokesman Jim Desler said, adding that Microsoft would “respond accordingly” in court once it had reviewed the suit.
Desler also took issue with Be’s core contention, saying: “Computer manufacturers have always been able to ship multiple operating systems with their computers. In fact, they could and did install Be’s operating system on their computers.”
Last August, Be said it was selling the operating system, called BeOS, to Palm for $11 million. Elements of BeOS are expected to be included in Palm’s next operating system, PalmOS 5.
While the company sold its product assets to Palm, it held on to other assets like cash and receivables, as well as some contract obligations and the right to pursue certain legal actions like antitrust claims.
Shares in Be rose 2 cents, or 20 percent, to 12 cents on Tuesday in Nasdaq trading.
THE “BATMOBILE” OS
The BeOS, introduced in 1990, had been hailed as a visionary product for its multimedia abilities, elegance and ability to run many programs at the same time.
But while it had a core of devoted fans, including science fiction writer Neal Stephenson, who called it the “Batmobile” of operating systems, Be never achieved commercial success. Most recently, it powered a short-lived Web-oriented computer from Sony called the eVilla.
“The great idea behind BeOS was to start from a clean sheet of paper and design an OS the right way. And that is exactly what they did. This was obviously a good idea from an aesthetic standpoint, but does not a sound business plan make,” Stephenson wrote in his 1999 operating system essay “In The Beginning Was The Command Line.”
Be’s founder, Jean-Louise Gassee, became a poster child for missed opportunities when he reportedly turned down an offer by Apple Computer Corp. (NasdaqNM:AAPL – news) in 1996 to buy the company for $125 million.
Gassee, according to the book “Apple Confidential,” wanted $200 million. Apple eventually bought Next, a company started by Steve Jobs, Apple’s co-founder and former chief executive, for $400 million. The Next operating system now powers Apple’s newest computers in the form of Mac OS X.
In the late 1990s, Be also saw increased competition from the upstart Linux operating system, which gained ground as a free alternative to Windows and other proprietary software.