After roughly 12 years of work, the Wine Project is about to take its widely used Windows translation layer to a place it has not been in all that time: beta.
Wine Project leader Alexandre Julliard, who has worked on the software nearly since its beginning in 1993 and maintained it since 1994, said interview yesterday that the beta release is "a matter of days away." He has since updated that forecast and said it would be released on Tuesday, October 25th.
Jeremy White, Codeweavers founder and a "big booster" of Wine, said the beta release of the software is a watershed event because in addition to user apprehensiveness toward an alpha release, a lack of consistency in the software's function also turned people off. And while Wine, or some form of it, has become common across the Linux universe, 11 years as an alpha is a long time.
"Wine has historically had a very frustrating history because it has been alpha software," White said. "This is really hard work. We're replicating the work of a billion-dollar company. The reason we're saying it's alpha is because we believe we still have fundamental changes to make on the way the internals work."
Noting that it has not always been easy to install software with Wine's alpha releases over the last decade, White said that once you got something working it has never meant it would continue to do so, or do so properly. There may have been display glitches or things not functioning properly, if a program even worked with Wine at all.
Days after the release of Wine version 0.9, White said the release signaled that the developers were reaching a point where the software was where it needs to be and that users could have a "reasonably decent experience.
"It's not going to be perfect," White said. "But it will only get better from here -- which it hasn't consistently done."
After discovering Wine in 1998, White rebuilt Codeweavers to work on Wine and build its proprietary software off of it. All of the work they do is poured directly back into the Wine project, including that of Julliard, who works for Codeweavers.