Be, the software company founded by former Apple chief technologist Jean-Louis Gassee, will announce today a new operating system aimed at Web appliances.

The company is best known for its BeOS desktop operating system, particularly suited to multimedia applications. Today at the Demo2000 conference in Indian Wells, California, a new operating system, codenamed Stinger, will be unveiled.

This targets low-cost Web devices such as PDAs and entertainment devices used for downloading video and audio streams from the Internet.

The new operating system supports Internet standards and multimedia technologies such as Macromedia’s Flash, and the company has worked with Intel to make sure it is optimized to run on Celeron and Pentium III processors. Compaq is expected to show at the conference a prototype of a Web device that runs on the system.

Stinger also incorporates Proxim’s HomeRF wireless networking technology, so that broadband Internet access can be shared around the home.

Meanwhile, the company is offering BeOS version 5 for free. The company’s stock has dropped because of the expected loss of revenue. The last trade on Friday was 15 3/4, compared to its 52-week high of 39 9/16.