When I bought my first Amiga, the Windows based PCs was just barely catching up in terms of advanced features and speed. Today, the tables seems to have turned, but still the Amiga is my platform of choice. The reason for this is based partly in the past and present, partly because of what seems like a very bright future for the Amiga.
When the Amiga arrived, it was a revolutionary piece of hardware, presenting for us a staggering 4096 colours, four channels of sound in stereo, graphic interface (like today; Windows, menues, mouse...) and multitasking.
It was a hit! It was the natural choice for people working with art, video, TV, film... Creative people. Then the famous "Juggler" demo arrived: A figure jugglig balls of glass - all ray traced. It was stunning, and was the reason many more bought the Amiga. Game makers was in heaven - all these colours, and the great sound - it was made for some helluva games.
At the time, it was a bit funny to read some reviews of the machine in some PC magazines: Oh, it was a great computer, very well. But what did you actually need those colours for? Or the sound? And why would you want to do more than one thing at the same time?
This was when the same magazines were writing about the latest monochrome graphics cards, the world of stunning 16 colour cards (who would need more?) and when the only sound available was the bleeps from the internal PC speaker.
The PC has come a far way from then; Fast, millions of colours, great sound - you'll find some mean, lean machines out there. There was a change of attitude in the reviewers, too; Colours were very nice, and sound could be used for a lot of things, even sensible things. The more things the PC could do (and now we're speaking of Windows-based PCs) that previously "only" Amiga could, were great things. Sometimes even touted as innovations.
The attitude towards the Amiga never changed, though - some journalists were denied by their editors to write about the Amiga - at least in positive terms. The Amiga was to be dismissed as a toy, or silenced away to it's demise. PC salesmen was silent or misinformed potentional customers that were interested in the Amiga, either intentionally or unknowingly. Greatly helped by wrong decisions and lack of PR from Commodore, the company that manufactured the Amiga, it dwindled away.
And there we are now. Very few Amiga users left from the hey-days, but we're still here. A living and committed community. Hardware and software of excellent quality is still produced, if not in the quantities and prices available for PC. A souped up Amiga doesn't stand back for a Pentium II based PC - but it is of course an old computer by now. Third-party equipment have been and still are produced, but the Amiga itself hasn't been developed for years. Until now.
So what does the future promise for the Amiga? There are two paths: The Classic Amiga, and the New Generation.
The Classic line is the least interesting path, in my view. The Amiga will be PPC-based, and a G4 based Amiga won't be ignored in the competition against Macs and Intel (and compatible) boxes in terms of power. Those who will be responsible for this line, will mostly be third-party and licenced clones. Amiga Inc. will concentrate on the NG Amiga - and this is where I find the real excitement.
In the situation we have today, the Amiga can be considered a new competitor on the market. And what chances will a new competitor have today, with Windows having monopoly power and being the standard everywhere? Immediately the chances may seem slim, but are they really?
Amiga Inc. knows what is needed to succeed: A powerful machine that's easy to use, cheaper than the competition, real advertising and PR, and software available for it. The Amiga they're designing is not known by many outside - but those who do are very impressed, and find the prospect of having such a computer very exciting. It's designed to be very fast, very stable, and very powerful. Graphics capabilities should be compared to special and expensive workstations - but the Amiga should be cheap. Prices are not set, but it's said that a $500 Amiga should compare favourable with a $3000 (Windows) PC.
Cheap and powerful, in other words. But what about software? Without software, no one will buy it no matter what. Which is why Amiga Inc. has talked with many major software houses, asking them if they would develop for the Amiga. The result? No one has said no, but no one want to be known for their support yet, either. Why not? Fear of Microsoft retaliation has been mentioned.
Ah, yes - Microsoft. No one can stand up against that company, right? MS do as it wants, in any means. But will this last? In short: No. The market is ready for alternatives now, and alternatives are getting support from major players. Having a standard OS to develop for has been nice - but it has become too limiting, too, so the Amiga will certainly have it's chance. Many are just waiting for the opportunity the Amiga will provide.
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