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Amiga Back for the Future - Software

OS3.X - OS4.0 - OS5.0

This web-page will try to describe how Amiga software will look like in the future. The emphasis of this page is on the new versions of the Amiga Operating Systems(OS), namely Amiga OS4.0 and Amiga OS 5.0. However, it is possible that this web-page will also include description of software that will be available on the new versions of operating systems. The first part of this page will cover the facts about Amiga Inc's plans for the Amiga OS. Next part will try to go beyond the plans that are released and describe rumors and speculations about the operating system.

Amiga OS 3.X

Today, most of Amiga users use Amiga OS 3.0 or 3.1. This version of the OS provided a lot of useful features when it came and still to day have many nice features that does not exist in other OS's (as Windows95, MacOS and Unix). The support for localization and datatypes are features that no other OS provide today. Although this is nice, Amiga OS 3.1 has not been update the last couple of years. This means that the user interface is not state-of-the-art anymore and support for external hardware and network services are not supported the way they are in Windows95 and MacOS. Other important features Amiga OS is lacking of is support for process control and virtual memory. Amiga OS 3.X and older is now defined as "Amiga Classic".

A couple of months ago, we heard good news from Amiga International about a new version of Amiga OS was on its way. This was the 3.5 version of the OS and should include network support, updated graphical user interface (GUI) and better support for external hardware devices. Amiga OS 3.5 should run on Amiga 680X0 platform. 15th. of May Amiga INC announced that Amiga OS 3.5 will not come. This is because Amiga Inc has bigger plans for the future for Amiga.

Amiga OS 4.0

The next version of Amiga OS will be Amiga OS 4.0 and it is planned that it will be released in November 1998. This new version of the OS will include features as memory protection, SMP, updated hardware support (PCI, AGP, DVD), updated GUI, advanced multimedia support, network support etc. Note that Amiga OS 4.0 is only transition version of the OS and will not be very useful for end-users. The main intention for Amiga OS 4.0 is to let developers gradually migrate software from Amiga OS3.1, MS Windows and MACOS to Amiga OS 4.0. The kernel of the operating system will be based on both Amiga OS as well as possibly Linux, Java or BeOS. A graphical presentation of a possible architecture for the new OS is shown in the figure below.

The first level in the architecture is a layer which makes the OS hardware independent (can be ported on different types of hardware). This layer is based on Hardware Independent Device Drivers (HIDDs) as well as a Mach 3 Kernel (hardware independent operating system kernel). Note that in the hardware abstraction layer you will also have libraries well know from the Amiga OS.
The next layer is the OS layer which will consist of different interfaces for the applications. You will have a OS3.X compatible interface to ensure backwards compability, a Java interface, a new Amiga 4.0 interface as well as a Unix based application interface. The different application interfaces will make it easier to port application to Amiga OS4.0 (Unix applications, Amiga applications as well as Java applications).
The Amiga OS 4.0 will not run on current Amigas or PowerPC Amigas. The only way you can have an Amiga as well as run Amiga OS 4.0 is to buy a Siamese System. Amiga OS 4.0 will only run at PC hardware. This is because the simulator for the new Super chip the Amiga OS 5.0 is based on runs only on PC. Remember that Amiga OS 4.0 is only a temporary step to Amiga OS 5.0.

Amiga OS 5.0

The Amiga OS Version 5.0 will be the big release of Amiga OS to the end-users. The Amiga 5.0 will run on new and super fast Amiga hardware that is under planning and development. The new Amiga hardware is based on a new power chip that should be 5-10 times faster than the fastest Pentium processor today and have incredible powers when it comes to multimedia, 3D and graphics processing. The planned date for releasing Amiga OS version 5.0 and the new hardware is late 1999. It will not be possible to run Amiga OS 5.0 on existing Amigas when it is released, but Amiga INC has said that is is possible that Amiga OS 5.0 can be ported to PPC/680X0. If the hardware of the new Amiga is many times as powerful and not to expensive, I guess most of us will buy a new computer anyway...
The target for Amiga OS 5.0 is not only for personal computers, but also for other electronical devices as network computer, video-games, set-top devices etc.

Features that will be provided in Amiga OS Version 5.0:

  • Datatype system (known from Amiga OS3.X)
  • Internationalization support (catalogues). This feature will be improved in the new version of the OS.
  • Arexx type of scripting language
  • Internet support (web-browser etc...)
  • New better looking Graphical User Interface
  • Completely configurable
  • More to come...
  • To be continued...

    This webpage was written by Alf Inge Wang (visit his homepage) and is reproduced by kind permission. Further reproduction by permission only of Alf Inge Wang.

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