Status of the Amiga
by Eric W. Schwartz
from the AmiTech-Dayton Gazette, January 2003
Welcome to yet another new year. I STILL haven't seen the world come to an end like we were promised for the year 2000. It's three years later, and nothing yet, so I'm beginning to think those guys can't get anything right.
On the upside, there seems to be real movement on the front of getting us a new Amiga, or something appropriately Amiga-ish. Eyetech is starting to deliver Amiga One hardware, with an "XE" version (with an upgradable CPU module instead of a hardwired one, as I understand it) on the way. The Amiga OS 4.x is still not ready yet, but hopefully Hyperion will not disappoint. Thendic/Genesi/BPIan/Morph (OK, exactly who the hell is who right now?) seem to have won the first leg of this race, however. The PegasOS board is shipping, along with MorphOS, for that something appropriately Amiga-ish. They also plan to do a little showing off at the Consumer Electronics Show. I wish I knew exactly how much this might benefit them, but it certainly has the potential to bring them some real success, something not seen in the Amiga world for some time.
We live in a Windows-dominated world. As such, it's difficult to imagine anything as different and just plain good as a PPC-based AmigaOS or MorphOS system to carve out enough of a niche to be successful. On the other hand, Windows isn't quite the eight-hundred-pound gorilla it once was. It's still a gorilla, don't get me wrong, but there's a growing interest in alternative platforms, mostly the descendants of UNIX: Linux and MacOSX. Business is taking a stronger interest in the likes of these, especially when they want something that won't crash easily or report all activities back to Microsoft HQ. Linux has made the greatest inroads because it can use the same cheap mass-produced hardware Windows uses, and Linux software is relatively cheap, or even free (probably the largest motivator for Linux fans). As I watch Apple, one of few remaining users of the PowerPC CPU line, struggle to keep hold of its tiny market share, I can't help but wonder how another PPC-based machine, such as Amiga One or PegasOS, will fare. With smaller supplies, the (admittedly superior) hardware will almost certainly be more expensive than similar Intel-based stuff, and runs a greater risk of being discontinued. Software such as Amithlon has shown us what an Amiga can do on Intel hardware. Its future is in doubt, but I would love to see the Amithlon/Umilator/Bernithlon concept expanded, turning it more into an Intel-native version of Amiga OS, with the fixes and enhancements seen for OS4 or Morph. Such a thing would make a fine alternative OS alongside Linux and the like, able to run on inexpensive PC hardware. There is a downside though, and that would be that the Amiga hardware industry would be all but retired, but few of them are left (or Amiga-exclusive) today anyway, so the loss might not be too bad. Hold on to your dreams and hopes for the new year. Our dreams for new and improved systems are already coming true. Now we need to wish them the success they deserve.