the Beta File

Welcome back to the Beta File, your source for the latest breaking news in OS/2 beta development. Once again this month, big names and new companies are announcing and continuing OS/2 beta development. Read on for details...

Of course, during any given month, we don't come across every company currently in development. So if you would like to help fill out this column, you have a product that you're sure is going to be the next killer app, or you want a little free hype drop us a note!

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On July 1st, Stardock Systems announced the availability of the Process Commander Early Experience program. More information can be found on Stardock's Process Commander Web page, which gives a very in-depth description of all the program's abilities.

Designed for mission-critical custom applications and end users who won't tolerate system downtime, Process Commander allows OS/2 users to recover from system hangs and intervene at a low level to kill programs that are monopolizing the CPU or the system message queue. Process Commander even allows users to telnet over a network onto a remote machine and kill a process from there, making it a support person's dream.

Process Commander also delivers a Presentation Manager process manager for monitoring the statistics of running programs, setting the priority of threads and viewing semaphores, shared memory and more.

Stardock is targeting a September release for Process Commander. The introductory list price will be US$69.95, however, early adopters and corporate evaluators can order the beta (or "Early Experience Program" in Stardock-speak) for Process Commander during the month of July. The Early Experience Program costs US$45 and includes all betas and a free copy of the final version. To join, e-mail Stardock, check their web site or call (800) 672-2338. The Early Experience Program will only be open until the end of July.

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Stardock Systems' other big news this month is the wrapping up of the Object Desktop Professional beta test. OD Pro is a new industrial strength version of their popular Object Desktop 1.5 with a whole slew of new features including:

The beta process has been lengthy with a large number of beta testers, however the core product is based on the existing Object Desktop code, so not as much testing was needed as would have been for a traditional new product. Unfortunately the beta test is not open to new participants but the final product is expected "sometime soon". The price will be US$179.95 with an upgrade price for exsting Object Desktop users of US$69 for users of version 1.5 and US$119 for users of 1.0. For more info check out Stardock's Web site.

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Frankenstein Software, a company which should have just released the game Mongol Commander when you read this, is also wrapping up development on another new game for OS/2, PowerFootball. The game is a strategy/arcade solitaire football simulation in which the user can design plays and then attempt to execute them on the field. PowerFootball is a compact, mouse-controlled game with arcade-style graphics and 8-way scrolling.

Chief Developer, Jack Rollan, claims, "This simulation also features advanced artificial intelligence for the computer coach and for each player position. PowerFootball is designed to be multitasking-friendly, and at 512k RAM, it will demand minimal system resources."

Just finishing their testing of the game, Frankenstein Software is scheduled to release PowerFootball sometime in July at US$19.99. For more information contact them at or (516) 538-6420 (7pm-11pm EST).

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On the shareware front, Bernhard Rems is working on a product titled "CAOS/2" (in the future this may change to "Nightshift").

CAOS/2 is a program for amateur astronomers. It calculates the circumstances of your next observing session and then makes suggestions of what to observe depending on: location, moon up/down, instrument, limiting magnitude, experience, and interest. It will include a log book and allow you to submit your observations to the Internet Amateur Astronomers' Catalog.

The beta has been ongoing for a while and the program is now up to version 0.15. In Rems' own words, "The philosophy of beta testing -- as I see it -- is to get as much input as soon as possible." The only fully functional parts of the app right now are the submission to IAAC and the calculation of astronomical time (JD, startime, etc.).

If you would like to participate, the developer is still looking for a handful of testers because he expects valuable input from the beta team. Just e-mail Rems at the above address. He will mail the beta to participants. Stable updates will be put on Hobbes from time to time but releases in-between will only go to the beta testers.

Pricing for a final release is not yet set and it may turn out to be freeware. And if you're looking for this type of product, get your vote in now because Rems says, "Depending on where most beta testers come from, the program could be either in English or in German. Due to the strength of OS/2 in the German market, the latter is quite possible." At the moment, it is in English.

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And, of course, finally this month, computer users everywhere are now happily talking to their computers as IBM began its public beta-testing program for the next release of OS/2 Warp, code-named Merlin, late last month. Wally Casey, vice president of client product management, IBM Software Group said:

"Now getting on the Internet is as easy as saying: 'Jump to 1996 Olympic Games,' and you're there. You can go through your existing electronic mail software by telling your computer to 'open,' 'discard,' 'next,' 'reply,' and so on -- all without having to touch the keyboard or the mouse.

IBM is shipping the beta software to 10,000 selected participants worldwide, including current Warp customers, software developers, hardware vendors, channel partners and other business partners. IBM briefly posted a page on their WWW beta site and the response was so overwhelming that they had filled their quota in less than a few days and had to take the on-line order form down!

The new beta of OS/2 Warp includes IBM's latest VoiceType technology, built-in Java and object-oriented technology, a redesigned interface (including the OS/2 Warp Center) and the new Assistance Center. Final release is promised by the end of the year and some even claim it will be available in the 3rd quarter.

For more information see the IBM home page.

Or why not just stay local? In this issue of e-Zine! you'll find various editorial commentaries on Merlin as well as Stacy King's introduction to the beta. And stay tuned for our special Merlin Supplement -- including first looks at the beta and screen shots. The supplement will be posted by July 5th!

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