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Location: GUIs > BeOS 5.0 Personal Edition

BeOS 5.0 Personal Edition
screen shots.

BeOS is a powerful OS designed primarily for Multimedia desktop use. Originally BeOS was designed for a custom computer system known as the BeBox that had special multimedia input/output features, and was later ported to the Macintosh, and finally ported to the PC.

This version of BeOS is the Personal Edition, which can be downloaded freely from the Internet and installed under Windows. Under Windows 95 and Windows 98 you can just double click an icon to exit Windows and start this version of BeOS. On ME or NT 4 or later you can use a boot floppy to start the installed BeOS.

Unfortunately Be ran in to problems competing with Microsoft, such as Microsoft's license agreements with OEMs that forbid them from selling computers that booted more than one OS. In 2001 after changing their focus to "internet appliances", Be went out of business.

BeOS Desktop
This is the default desktop that you first see when booting up BeOS Personal Edition. Icons and folders can be placed directly on the desktop. The bar in the upper right is the "Deskbar".

BeOS is a vaguely Unix-ish OS, but is single-user with no local security restrictions. Over all its GUI rivals that of Microsoft Windows and MacOS.

One of the most noted features of BeOS is its use of tabs instead of typical title bars. This perhaps saves a little bit of screen space and definitely gives the windowing system a unique appearance.

Clicking on the BeOS logo on the Deskbar brings up a menu with programs you can run. The Deskbar can also be dragged to other corners of the screen or to the upper or lower of the screen to give it a "Windows task bar" appearance.

Running programs appear on the Deskbar. If a program has multiple windows only one icon is shown but clicking on the program icon displays a list of open windows you can select from.

The Tracker is the file manager used by BeOS and is equivalent to the Windows 95 Explorer or the MacOS finder. It can view files as normal icons, a list of small icons or in a detailed view. (No pointless "web" view thanks goodness)

Although much of BeOS has a MacOS feel to it the windowing system places menus in each window rather than at the top.


BeOS offers virtual desktops called "workspaces". Each workspace may have its own background and screen resolution. It is possible to configure the number of available workspaces.

BeOS includes a basic web browser application called NetPositive.

Some of the default icons on the desktop were links to the Be web site, however as you can see the Be web site is long gone.

The BeOS media player can play a number of different file formats. One of the strengths of BeOS is that it is  designed and optimized to handle multiple media streams.

These are a couple of the demo apps that ship with BeOS 5 PE.

Also, this screen shot shows the BeOS menu in "start menu" mode.

Screen Savers
BeOS includes some nice, although simple, screen savers.

A number of aspects of the BeOS GUI are customizable including menu behaviors, and the scroll bar appearance.

There is also a hidden trick that let's you change the title bar appearance. If you hold down ctrl-alt-shift and open the Be Menu you will see an extra "Window Decor" option that let's you select between BeOS, AmigaOS, MacOS 8, and Windows 9x appearances. Note though that even with these appearances the titlebars still exhibit BeOS like behavior. (such as double clicking the title bar minimizes instead of maximizes.)

Drive Setup
This is the drive setup, a graphical disk partition configuration utility.

BeOS does not try to automatically mount floppy disks, instead you must mount it by right-clicking on the desktop, selecting "mount" and then selecting the floppy drive. Other drive types can be set to auto mount although this is not the default.

Softwate Valet
This is the Software Valet application which is used to install packaged software. Software that installs itself in this manner can be uninstalled or updated.

Other software can also be installed simply by unzipping it using a utility called the Expand-O-Matic.

Mozilla on BeOS!
There is a slightly updated development version of NetPostive floating around, however BeOS can now run the industry standard and ever popular Mozilla web browser.

BeOS 5.1DR0
Here is a screen shot of the BeOS 5.1d0 development version. This is a slightly crashy alpha/beta version of BeOS that was never finished and was reportedly the last release before Be went out of business. UI wise there really isn't much new in it except it contains some new title bar appearances, a new network configuration panel, and debugging utilities. The default is still the "yellow tabs" however this screen shot shows the "Baqua" appearance.