Amiga Forever by Cloanto
 
Products Support
 
 

Amiga Forever

This is the original announcement from October 1997.

Preliminary Information

Amiga Forever is scheduled for release on November 14, 1997, at the Computer '97 show in Köln. By that date, we expect that the Amiga Forever support pages will have a new and more complete look. www.amigaforever.com will be the main access point to information, support and free upgrades to Amiga Forever.

Visitors of the Computer '97 show are invited to attend the Amiga Forever workshop held by Cloanto on Saturday, November 15, 14:00. All questions from the public will be welcome.

The following sections provide a preliminary description of Amiga Forever, and a discussion on some less technical issues. Your feedback (suggestions, questions, flames, etc.) is, as usual, very appreciated. For additional information on local distributors and resellers of Amiga Forever, please refer to our Distributors page.

Introduction

On October 7th, 1997, Amiga International, Inc. made the following announcement on its web site:

Cloanto to Publish an Official Software Emulation of the AMIGA

Cloanto, publisher of leading AMIGA graphics and productivity packages such as Personal Paint, The Kara Collection, and the Personal Suite, was granted by AMIGA International, Inc. certain rights to publish an official software emulation of the AMIGA Computer, including original AMIGA OS software, AMIGA/PC networking software, and various other programs. The package, code-named "AMIGA FOREVER" and scheduled for release this November, will carry the "Powered by Amiga" logo. The product is to incorporate a number of exciting and surprising features which will be announced shortly before the release.

Within hours from this announcement, activity on our web site and on our mail server reached sky-high levels.

We knew there was such a strong interest for a product like Amiga Forever, but never would we have expected the amount of supportive feedback and requests for information that came in in the 24 hours which followed. Basically, the announcement by Amiga International was about the very first thing we obviously had to do: work with Amiga International and other parties before even considering to release such a product, which includes their intellectual property as well as other items developed and/or licensed by us. The package which on November 14, 1997 will be presented to the public of the Computer '97 Show in Köln will indeed consist of much more than an "Amiga emulator".

Presentation of Cloanto's "Amiga Forever"

Cloanto, already a licensor and licensee of Amiga operating system technology since the 1980s, acquired from a group of owners of Amiga technology (Gateway 2000, Inc. and Amiga International, Inc.) a new license covering Amiga patents, the use of the "Powered by Amiga" trademark and logo, and major parts of Amiga operating systems from version 1.0 to version 3.X, to be published by Cloanto in a package named "Amiga Forever". Additional operating system versions and components have been or will be licensed from other parties.

Amiga Forever includes Amiga Explorer, a new Amiga-to-PC networking software developed by Cloanto. The Amiga Explorer user interface is an object-oriented extension to the Windows desktop, where the Amiga appears as a networked computer. The Amiga and the PC can be connected via a serial (null-modem) cable. A future upgrade, expected to be available later this year (at no cost to Amiga Forever users), will extend the networking capabilities to support TCP/IP.

Amiga Forever also includes a variety of famous old Amiga games, demoscene productions and other material of historical interest (with an exclusive, never before released, interview with the late Jay Miner, "Father of the Amiga"), plus Personal Paint and other up-to-date productivity software by Cloanto and by other companies.

The Amiga operating systems, ROMs, and Amiga emulation software are preinstalled on Amiga Forever for easy use and installation. The user just needs to insert the CD-ROM in a PC, and with one mouse click a fully working Amiga will appear on the screen. The Amiga emulation software includes for the first time drivers for RTG screen modes (up to 256 colors, as well as 16/24-bit true color modes, using an emulated graphics board), plus some features required for the ShapeShifter Macintosh II emulator to run in the Amiga emulation (sharing the emulation of the 68K CPU, which is not emulated twice).

The initial release of Amiga Forever is scheduled to include a CD-ROM with software for the Amiga and the other platforms, plus a floppy disk with a copy of the Amiga-side networking software (for Amiga systems with no CD-ROM drive). The exact platforms which will be supported by the emulation software, in addition to Windows NT, Windows 9x, DOS, Power Macintosh, PowerPC Amiga and GNU/Linux, will be defined and announced shortly. The official Amiga Forever web address www.amigaforever.com will allow users to obtain information and support, and to easily upgrade their software from the internet.

Thoughts and Technology Behind Amiga Forever's Emulation Software

The idea of a fully licensed and supported Amiga emulation package came natural for a variety of reasons. Freely distributable Amiga emulators, such as UAE and Fellow, have been available for a few years now. We believe that the UAE emulator, in particular, has reached a technical maturity where it deserves a broader acceptance and diffusion.

Right now, if you visit any UAE web site, or search for "UAE" on an internet search engine, within five minutes of following links you can find illegal Amiga ROMs and all other system files. Demand clearly exists, but, until now, no solution was found to work out something that satisfied the requirements of the owners of the Amiga intellectual property, and the needs of the user base. At Cloanto we wanted to provide a properly licensed, well-organized and legal solution for this demand, and we worked hard, mediating between a lot of people and interests, resorting to our portfolio of licenses, adding new licenses, and developing new technical solutions, to make it all possible and acceptable.

As a leading publisher of Amiga productivity titles, we receive daily feedback about the reality and needs of our Amiga users, who are increasingly confronted with a world of PC technology, standards, and complexity. Every publisher, developer, distributor and dealer of Amiga software knows this all too well. Our web's log files, for example, show that even before the release of Amiga Forever, more than 50% of the internet browsers used to access the Amiga section on the site were running on PC or Mac systems. For more and more Amiga users, the difficult choice is between Amiga Forever or... Forever Lost. With Amiga Forever, we would like to provide the best possible bridge between dreams and reality, free time and work, the Amiga and other platforms. With the Amiga Explorer networking software, for example, it is possible to connect an Amiga to a PC, and to work on business files which no Amiga software can even load. Multimedia which no PC would be able to produce as easily as an Amiga can be integrated into presentation or Web management software on the PC. Amiga Forever provides different ways to allow the Amiga and other systems to communicate. At last, Amiga Forever even makes the Amiga notebook a practical reality.

Several companies and groups of programmers are currently working on independent solutions with the goal of achieving compatibility with the original Amiga without infringing on possible Amiga patents, copyrights and trademarks. Some of these efforts require the recompilation of Amiga application code, which in turn requires the recompilation and maintenance of a critical mass of Amiga programs for each platform in order for that platform to become successful. We believe that, in addition to the "real" Amiga, the simplest and most effective solution to all of the needs described here is a properly licensed software emulation of the Amiga, inclusive of all operating system files, which does not require additional maintenance to existing Amiga code. We hope that the fact that so many publishers, developers and copyright holders granted us such licenses will contribute to reduce the possible fragmentation of the Amiga software market, that it will help Amiga users who would otherwise have to entirely change platform, and Amiga developers who will have new users exploring the Amiga platform.

During the past months, both internally at Cloanto, and in cooperation and contact with over 60 contributors of the UAE and Fellow Amiga emulators, we helped to improve these programs, and we developed a combination of technical and legal solutions which, for example, allow for Amiga ROMs to be encrypted in a way that is supported by the emulation software. We just completed testing of a virtual RTG graphics board for UAE, and we are bringing to new life pieces of Amiga history which deserve to be seen by everybody. Personal Paint will be included in a special version optimized for the emulation. No doubt, Amiga Forever will have some pleasant surprises for every Amiga enthusiast.

We admire and support the immense and free-spirited work that is behind the UAE emulator. UAE will be an important part of Amiga Forever, and it will also continue to be available for free distribution. Within Amiga Forever, UAE will become easier to install, configure and use, and it will be able to exploit the power and compatibility of eight different Amiga operating systems.

As the first, exciting but incomplete, news about Amiga Forever began to leak, a few Amiga enthusiasts expressed the concern that an Amiga emulator might "kill" the real Amiga. We take these worries most seriously, yet we also feel that at least two different aspects of this issue, namely some facts about the difficulties of the Amiga, and some facts about emulation, may require additional meditation. Most likely, too many words have already been spent on what could have been done better over the past ten years of Amiga history. The history of emulation, however, is even older than that of the Amiga. Macintosh and PC emulators, for example, currently exist on many platforms, including the Amiga, but in practice people still prefer the "real" Macs and PCs when it comes to regular day-to-day work. Emulation satisfies, in our opinion, a need which is more one of integrating different platforms, rather than of replacing one or the other (except for systems which have been "dead" for years, like the Spectrum and the C64, but the cause of such condition has never been emulation, which is rather an effect of it). In the case of the Amiga, its CPU and custom chips have to be emulated by software running on a different type of  computer. This does not leave much margin for the application of direct price-performance comparisons, nor for worries about "competition" between the real Amiga and one emulated on a similarly priced non-Amiga computer. Also, the emulation part of Amiga Forever is sold under license of the companies who still own active Amiga-related patents, so there is no competition between Amiga Forever and the Amiga companies, but mutual support. It is not always easy for somebody who does not need something like an Amiga emulator, or has never seen one, to understand how others might need it badly (for example because at work they have to use a PC all day). In the Amiga spirit, we hope that nobody will judge and decide for those who have different needs and opinions. Amiga Forever, as one of the many "Powered by Amiga" solutions which are available to the public, is one product more, not one product less, for users to choose from, and for the Amiga to establish its presence in a PC world. And, as we know from our personal experience, Amiga users know to appreciate the value of free and independent choice more than any other group of users.

Amiga Forever and Workbench are registered trademarks of Cloanto Corporation in the United States and/or other countries. All other trademarks are the property of the respective owners. The information on this page should be considered preliminary, and might differ from the final product.