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Reaction to the Interview

The interview with Bill McEwen of Amiga Inc has generated a great deal of interest throughout the Amiga community. Wayne Hunt and his staff at arranged an interview in which regular visitors were able to put forward the questions they wanted Bill McEwen to answer. They were tough questions but within a few days each of the questions had been addressed.

The feeling of shock to the comments by Bill McEwen in his interview with has been overwhelming – three hardware companies interested in obtaining an AmigaOS 4 license, legal problems delaying the release of AmigaOS 4, and the revelation that AmigaOS 5 has been in development by Amiga engineers and staff for over two years. It will be sometime before Amiga users understand the far-reaching implications to these revelations but debate and discussion is already taking place in the forums, message-boards, mailing lists, and in the IRC chat-rooms.

Some frustration has been expressed that Troika are not involved in discussions about obtaining an AmigaOS 4 license even though their hardware plans appear to be quite advanced. One Oregon Amiga user pointed out that of the companies who want to cater for the Amiga market, “they seem to be the only one with info on an actual product”. A number of companies have stepped forward to explain that it has been difficult and in some cases impossible to communicate with Amiga Inc about their business proposals. Bill Toner of ForeFront Technologies explained, “I sent multiple emails to the prescribed e-mail address but never received any response whatsoever. Not a list of questions, not an empty email, not a header, nothing at all”. It would appear that Amiga Inc needs to improve their lines of communication if new ventures are to be thoroughly explored.

The most controversial issue to arise from the interview was Bill McEwen's comments on the AmigaOS 4 project. It was revealed that a dispute between Amiga Inc and Hyperion Entertainment has led to a lot of “legal nonsense” which is delaying the final release of AmigaOS 4. The nature of the dispute is not elaborated on but intense speculation has served to aggravate concerns about the project. On Amiga World, Joachim Birging said, “I program for OS4, I enjoy the system, I do stuff to help others program for OS4, but when it comes to actually letting me know what the future holds, it's all silent”. However, some users are more optimistic that matters between Amiga Inc and Hyperion can be resolved. Graham Lerant made the comment, “You can spin this as being an OS4 show-stopper and a legal minefield - yet Bill was adamant that the OS4 developers would be compensated, the two parties are on friendly terms and the assumption here is that the only thing holding up OS4 is hardware”.

The revelation that AmigaOS 5 has been in development by Amiga engineers and staff for over two years was probably the biggest surprise Bill McEwen could unleash on the community. Concerns were immediately raised that AmigaOS 5 might be based on Intent but this suggestion was immediately dismissed by Bill McEwen in a carefully worded statement. He said, “AmigaOS 5 is NOT built on top of Intent and it is not related to Tao. This is 100% Amiga and yes there is a path from OS 4 to OS 5”. Some users reacted with some hostility alleging that AmigaOS 5 could overshadow and even replace OS 4. This appears to be an overreaction as Bill McEwen explained in the interview that over the next two years “you will see portions of OS 5 being delivered in AmigaAnywhere and then those portions will marry with the rest of OS 5”. It is possible to conclude that AmigaOS 5 is a long-term goal and it will not impede the release of AmigaOS 4.

The dedication of Bill McEwen and the rest of the Amiga Inc team cannot go unnoticed. Bill explained that, “The Amiga team with the exception of three people have all hung together and stayed working and productive. Over a two year period several of us continued to work and turn out product and services without pay. This was a “choice” that each of us made on a daily basis”. Despite the hurdles and personal tragedy, Bill still claims, “I certainly never gave up the dream and I know that everyone who is here at Amiga believe in the same vision and we are not going to stop until we make it happen”.

For many years it was assumed that Amiga Inc had chosen a separate path in which the community would play only a minor. This interview was therefore a pleasant surprise and more importantly it has provided some idea as to the role Amiga Inc wants to play in revitalising the Amiga market. At the forefront of their plans is the Amiga Operating System and they have made a clear commitment to the community. It remains to be seen whether Amiga Inc can overcome the hurdles and deliver on their commitments to the Amiga community.

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