He Who Controls the Bootloader
Although few in the Be community ever knew about the discussions, Gassée says that Be was engaged in enthusiastic discussions with Dell, Compaq, Micron, and Hitachi. Taken together, preinstallation arrangements with vendors of this magnitude could have had a major impact on the future of Be and BeOS. But of the four, only Hitachi actually shipped a machine with BeOS pre-installed. The rest apparently backed off after a closer reading of the fine print in their Microsoft Windows License agreements. Hitachi did ship a line of machines (the Flora Prius) with BeOS preinstalled, but made changes to the bootloader — rendering BeOS invisible to the consumer — before shipping. Apparently, Hitachi received a little visit from Microsoft just before shipping the Flora Prius, and were reminded of the terms of the license.
Be was forced to post detailed instructions on their web site explaining to customers how to unhide their hidden BeOS partitions. It is likely that most Flora Prius owners never even saw the BeOS installations to which they were entitled.
Bootloader as Trade Secret