Amiga Development Strategy
1. There should certainly be some effort put into bringing the Amiga up-
to-date in those areas where Windows-NT has gone ahead, but this should not
be the major effort. Largely the areas are at the knowledge level (i.e.
content and application areas) rather than at the lower (technical) levels.
But see below for details.
2. There should also be effort put into improving current facilities,
along the lines of enhancing true usability and usefulness. See below for details.
3. But I believe the main effort should be in developing the Amiga in
directions that are not being taken bu Windows-NT at present. This
is because if we merely focus on the two above then non-Amiga owners will
have no reason for even considering the Amiga, let alone buying it. We
need to develop unique selling points and sustaining and feeding and
growing niche markets.
- Serious (incl. professional) Video, because the Amiga is ideal for
this, and also still has this market.
- Home video editing etc. because this is a market that could be
reshaped by awareness raising - e.g. many take holiday videos, but do not
even considering adding titles.
- Presentations (various kinds) - because of the Amiga's (1200) superb
flexibility and transportability.
- Public information - because of successes like London transport
- Lecturing aids etc. - because of the growing tendency in academia to
look towards technical aids to teaching, and the Amiga's proven track
- Any applications in which movement and dynamism is central, rather
than a mere sequence of statics - because the Amiga was built for movement
and animation while the PC etc. were not and struggle with it. Quality and
smoothness etc. score here.
- As well as some effort keeping the Amiga near the front as a general
personal machine. But not trying to be number one in this area, as C=
foolishly sometimes hoped to do.
- Not in the Amiga-aware press, as C= did., but in the general press
- Not trying merely to foster 'image' (as C= did with their 'We're No.
2' campaign and their 'To be this good will take Sega ages') but to explain
unique features and explain their importance and the possibilities.
- Not to treat the Amiga as a commodity product (as did C=, who merely
wished to shift boxes) but to treat it as an effect product, in to-be-grown
- Not to try to muscle in on the already-overcrowded PC market but to
focus on specific vertical application areas e.g. video, e.g.
presentations, e.g. proximal user interfaces.
- Not to try a market tentatively for 6 months and then pull out
because costs are not recouped in that time (as C= did with e.g. their
multimedia push or their CAD push or their CDTV) but plan for a sustained
and long term effort over say 5 years.
Two areas: technical and non-technical.
Most of what we suggest as important should not require major redevelopment
of the AmigaOS since, because of its fundamental flexibility and openness,
most can be added as devices, libraries, etc. Like CrossDos was.
Here I recognise what is happening on the PC market is a development not of
knowledge-free, generic software, but of application packages. Various
encyclopedias, etc. Among my colleagues at church, for instance, they are
all talking about the latest Bible-searching systems that allow them to
find all occurrences of certain words, examine them, link to others, etc.
It's most impressive. Now that my friends know that these are available on
the PC they won't even consider the Amiga unless it has like packages.
That's just one example. There are many, many such application-specific
packages, in which real-world knowledge has been incorporated.
- Add networking in an integrated manner. e.g. Incorporate AmiTCP as a
standard part, but add to it an extremely user-friendly configurer. Add
AWeb as standard since it is so configurable even for low memory usage and
also has the same look and feel as most other Amiga software. And it's
*fast* and elegant and usable, in line with Amiga culture.
- Add wizard facilities. And standard help facilities. So that we
need to write our own. Not just make links to AmigaGuide possible but
provide a way to make links *easy*.
- Add 24-bit colour as standard even if not on all models - as a
that detects the availabllity of 24-bit hardware.
The question is: how is the Amiga going to catch up here? GW2K needs a
strategy for this. While we must accept that the PC will always (for the
foreseeable future) have far more of this type of thing than the Amiga,
there needs to be a strategy to handle it because the situation is no
longer as it was in the 1980s, when the emphasis was on generic (knowledge-
free) software; today it is increasingly on knowledge-based software.
I can see three possible types of strategy (not incompatible, and I think
that it might be wise to follow all three to a lesser extent than focus
only on one):
Some things various people are talking about as necessary, but we believe
that they should be made available only as options (though standard options
perhaps) rather than mandatory. They include:
- Continue encouraging applications software developers to develop for
the Amiga as well as for the PC etc. Set in place the incentives needed
for a sustained movement to the Amiga, not just short-lived incentives or
- Set in place the development tools and support lines for Amiga people
to develop their own applications packages, including a mechanism for
getting those of better quality to a wide distribution. I think that we
already have this in Aminet etc. but it needs fostering and especially the
major sections in Aminet need to be geared towards application areas as
well as types of software.
- Market the Amiga not as the one computer that people have but as the
additional computer, that links with their PC and extends its range of
usefulness, complementing it rather than (at present) supplanting it. In
the hope that gradually a proportion of people will gradually perform more
and more on their Amiga and less and less on their PC. For this we need to
provide as standard excellent links to the PC.
1. Add sound recording input and picture scanning input, to complement the
current output mechanisms. As libraries or devices supplied as standard.
For the latter espectially there should be a setup rather like the current
printer drivers mechanism, to cater for various scanners, and also
digitizers, video frame-grabbers, etc.
- Virtual memory: do NOT build this in at the bottom layers of the
AmigaOS cos doing so is likely to jeopardise the important elegance and
speed and efficiency that the Amiga already has. See important facilities that must be retained - especially
we must retain the easy close-down (namely just switch off when all disk
activity has finished) and fast start up.
- Memory protection: While it is important on machines where
are lazy and have come to rely on memory protection, on multi-user
machines, and on machines that take ages to close down and re-boot, these
are not true of the Amiga. While memory protection should be available as
a standard option, able to be switched on and switched in when necessary,
it should not be placed down in the depths of AmigaOS.
- Multi-user facilities (Unix-like) including user-ownership of files
etc. Since the Amiga is not in that area. If we are going to have this
then it should leap-frog the current ideas, into non-hierarchical
2. Add standard facilities for colour handling, such as standard library
calls to remap bitmap colours, translate HSV to RGB, spread colours, add
and subtract colours, etc. Surely there's already something like this
3. Add standard facilities for handling bitmaps such as rotate, blur,
apply various transformations, etc. This could be along the lines of the
maths libraries, and could detect and make use of any graphics hardware
available such as DSP but could perform these without it.
4. The CLI shell. It should have, as menus, the ability to capture to a
file all the text that flows through it. e.g. When I use telnet I wish to
capture the text that flows off the top.
5. Extend the dual-playfield concept to allow thicker playfields (8 planes
deep), and the ability to plug in new playfields (hardware additions) a bit
like adding items to a SCSI chain. This would be hugely useful for e.g.
CAD layers and GIS layers as well as for the next generation of games.
6. Links to PC. As standard should come a cable and
software to link the Amiga to the PC. e.g. Twinepxress or Gemini.
- Elegance of AmigaOS
- Openness of AmigaOS, at all levels from hardware-hitting upwards.
- Efficiency of AmigaOS.
- Speed of AmigaOS.
- Flexibility of AmigaOS such as datatypes, libraries, devices, and
- Fast booting (startup)
- Easy switch-off without having to shut down.
- Dual user interfaces (CLI and WB)
- Dual playfield
- Separable bitplanes
- Visual simplicity of WB user interface (e.g. menu bars hidden till