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Alpha 1: A Week Later
Exactly one week ago, on a simple Monday in September, we pulled the lever. Though it had been anticipated in more than one language, it was a relief when suddenly a whole new website appeared, and more importantly, this update had something called a release, a thing relatively unknown in Haiku's universe. I still remember being in the IRC channel, when Michael Lotz proclaimed: "I can't believe the other devs are letting me do this" while he was tagging the source code for the final alpha build.
So what happened after that?
A flurry of activity started afterwards. As the news of the release spread, the activity on our website reached new heights. Last Monday we had 42,034 unique visitors with a startling 138,942 page views. This was an all-time record, but our web server managed to serve the pages at acceptable speeds. Another number we would like to share, is that the download page has been accessed more than 62,000 times. So how many times has the image been downloaded? The most recent statistics put the downloads at more than 32,000. This number is not complete though. Missing are the downloads of the first day, which would add a few thousand more. And a lot of downloaders have chosen to use BitTorrent, several seeders reported gigabytes of data transferred in the first few days.
These record-blowing numbers were only possible by the active pickup of the press. Of course we received nothing but support on our home-turf. DaaT from IsComputerOn was continually pressing his F5 key until he hit the new website and wrote "as of 10mns ago, the website went through a facelift, got updated and the mirrors are online". Our friends at BeOSNews wrote "everyone involved in getting Haiku to this stage deserves a huge congratulations." We'll pass it on to everyone. BeGroovy wrote "They have also done a refresh on the web site and it looks great." But also internationally there have been reviews. BeOSFrance keeps it simple but powerful: "Pour fêter ça, le site fait peau neuve !" I can confirm that 'fêter' we did.
Of course the alpha did not go unnoticed on most tech sites. OSNews surprisingly dedicated not one, but two articles. The article by Thom Holwerda is especially recommended for reading, as it puts this release in the context of the BeOS (and Haiku) history. Other major tech sites picked it up as well, such as Tweakers (Netherlands), Ossn.cn (China), Yahoo Brazil and Wiadomosci (Poland). Of course SlashDot, Engadget and PC World picked it up as well.
As it goes with releases, the critics were activated and they produced several reviews. In the OSNews review, Haiku was praised for the look of the Operating System. "The team achieved just that: Haiku looks surprisingly modern, but it's still clearly recognizable as BeOS." The overall tone of the review was a positive one, even though Thom did run into some alpha bugs. A video review was done by The Computer Action Show. Grab your popcorn and sit back! Ars Technica had a review with the wonderful headline: 'Haiku, the future of BeOS, is pure poetry.' The alpha was more stable and mature than the review of a build last year, though there were the occasional problems. They concluded the article with: 'Although some of the unique advantages of BeOS have faded with time as other platforms evolved, there is still intrinsic value in the Haiku project and it could have a lot to offer as it matures.'
Finally, there was a news post by Information Week, in which Haiku is promoted for its liberal licensing and the fact that we are trying to recreate a complete desktop (rather than the fragmented Linux approach). " It embodies elegance." We can agree with that, though we do thought they were a bit too enthusiastic when they named it 'Beta 1'. They made that up by publishing an interview with Jorge Mare, the designer of the website and our marketing expert.
So the question is, what's next?
The truth is that the concrete plans for the next milestone are still under discussion. Good news is that development still has the momentum it had while we were preparing Alpha 1. Work is progressing on Gallium3d, localization features have been merged in the trunk and numerous bug fixes - partly due to the help from the many bug reports we got - are committed one after another. We are very eager to continue our work in building a complete and stable desktop operating system. In order to fulfill these goals we are carefully planning our next milestone. And we promise that it won't take another eight years. Really.
Note: there is a list with more press coverage during the first week of alpha 1. We would like to thank Stoian Alexandru for maintaining the list!