Office suite: The BIOS software runs a variety of common applications, including a Web browser, a media player, and office productivity software.
The most visible selling point for the slimmed-down operating system is speed. Because it does not carry the weight of numerous drivers, utility software, and add-ons, HyperSpace taxes the processor and memory far less than does Windows, Hobbs says. As time goes on, regular computers are typically slowed by legacy software too, he says. “Your system starts to get sluggish because of the registry, or drivers get out of date, or virus checking has to take place,” Hobbs says. “A lot of people tell me that they got a new PC, and it starts up real fast. And I say one word: ‘Wait.’”
Phoenix currently offers two versions of HyperSpace. The full-featured version allows PCs and laptops to hot-switch between the main operating system, such as Windows, and the HyperSpace environment. Computers that do not have enough processor power or memory to run both systems at the same time, such as the increasingly popular netbooks, can only boot into one mode at a time.
The software can be used in two other ways. As a nod to netbook manufacturers, Phoenix offers a mode called “dual resume,” which allows the users to switch back and forth between the main operating system and HyperSpace completely, with some delay. In the fourth case, the core security software grabs input and output from the network and disk to check the data for security threats. In that case, “you won’t even really know you are using hyperspace,” Hobbs says.
The company has worked hard to get the technology right, and the CEO says that the user experience, and not the engineering, is the most important part. “If you don’t get the experience right, the fact that you created the world’s coolest technology doesn’t matter,” Hobbs says. “If you create instant-on garbage, no one will use it.”
After Phoenix upgrades HyperSpace in June, it plans to focus on creating a better development platform to attract more application makers, says Hobbs. Part of this will mean opening an application store, much like Apple’s iPhone app store.
Even with those ambitious plans, however, convincing consumers to adopt a new environment will be hard, says analyst Enderle. “This platform could be a native platform for the netbook, but I think it needs to mature a bit before many people will take it as it stands alone.”