Wednesday, May 13, 2009

HyperSpace, or how the other operating system on some computers is operating system

There are all sorts of operating system vendors out there, such as Microsoft, Apple, and the myriad of Linux OS vendors (I'll have more to say on this in a future post). Well, it's time to add Phoenix Technologies to the list. Yeah, the BIOS people.

Technology Review has the details:

California-based Phoenix Technologies--the largest provider of BIOS software to computer makers--has tired of being invisible. Building on the virtualization technology more common to high-power workstations and data centers, the company has revamped its BIOS software to offer features that people tend to associate with a full-blown operating system: the ability to access more peripherals, such as disks and mouses, and networking and wireless communications.

Earlier this year, Phoenix launched the slimmed-down operating system, dubbed HyperSpace, and in June, the company plans a major update, which will add e-mail capabilities and instant messaging.

Here's what Phoenix Technologies says about HyperSpace:

HyperSpace lets you access the Web without having to wait for Windows to boot up. Power your computer and instantly surf the Internet, check e-mail or watch the YouTube video of the day. And when you want to switch off, just close the lid and off you go. But HyperSpace is much more than just instant-on.

Perform your Web-based activities in HyperSpace to preserve precious battery life. You can use your notebook up to 30% longer if you compute in the HyperSpace section and use Windows only when absolutely necessary.

It's difficult to find out specific information - I couldn't find a page on the HyperSpace browser - but I did find a brief blurb about some available add-on packages:

Add-on packages are commonly-used applications that can be easily installed on top of HyperSpace. Examples of these include but are not limited to the following:

Media Center Package (DVD, photo viewer, music player)
Message Center Package (E-mail, IM, VoIP)
Enterprise Center Package (Citrix Client, VMWare, Windows Remote Desktop Client)

*These packages will be available in the near future

Leaving the Phoenix Technologies website, I did find this January 2009 review in Desktop Linux (yes, HyperSpace is yet another version of Linux). Excerpt:

PC BIOS giant Phoenix Technologies today launched a fast-booting Linux add-on for Windows PCs. This hands-on review finds "HyperSpace" works to redress slow boot times, WiFi connection hassles, and short battery lives typical of Windows PCs, but sacrifices a lot of flexibility in order to achieve these goals....

The Linux environment really only offers a browser, Adobe PDF reader, Flash, and Java plugins at this point. Other fast-boot Linux environments offer media players, photo browsers, and so on. Presumably, some OEMs may choose to include other applications, such as Skype.

Users can't add browser plug-ins themselves, though Phoenix promises regular updates to paid subscribers. On the plus side, users can add Firefox extensions.

Depending upon your computer chip, HyperSpace is available in either a "dual" version (you can either run HyperSpace or Windows at any one time) or a "hybrid" edition (where both work at once).
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