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Handhelds Operating Systems Software Hardware

The Palm OS Ends With a Whimper 245

Posted by kdawson
from the hands-down dept.
PetManimal writes "Computerworld reviews the Palm Treo 755p, the last Palm device with the Palm OS, and concludes that the OS is going out not with a bang but with a whimper. The article says there are some useful improvements (better integration with Exchange and IM, limited speech recognition, etc.) but 'nothing that will make you sit back and say "wow."' Palm already has at least one device with Windows Mobile (the 700w) and soon will make a big push to Linux devices, maybe by the end of the year. But the Palm OS, which was top dog for a while back in the 1990s, and is still used by many people who own Palm Pilots or Treos, is going to quickly fade, it seems."
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The Palm OS Ends With a Whimper

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  • by yog (19073) * on Monday May 21, 2007 @11:22PM (#19216769) Homepage Journal
    The Palm Linux OS is going to be "compatible" with Palm Garnet (current OS); thus, it should look and feel like a present day Palm with a compatibility mode for current apps. In this sense, the Palm OS is not going away. In fact, it's being supercharged for multitasking so we can do handy things such as, for example, run both wifi and cell phone at the same time on a future Treo.
  • by Kamokazi (1080091) on Monday May 21, 2007 @11:25PM (#19216789)
    Yes. Windows had a Transcriber, Letter Recognizer, and Block Recognizer. You can get it to behave just like Palm Grafiti if you would like it to...the transcriber is very customizable...it will recognize words and phrases, but you can set it to reconize single letters if you would like. There is also a great 3rd party app called Caligrapher you could try too.
  • Had a nice bit of face time with a Palm product rep not long ago, got stuck at a table with him for six hours of a trade show. Bits of handy info:

    -The new Linux based system will be promoted as the next generation of Palm OS, as opposed to something completely different
    -Full backward compatibility will be retained for legacy palm apps, which accounts for 90% of Palm's loyal userbase
    -Multithreaded preemptive multitasking will fix the stability issues that arose from cramming phone and email push functionality into a single task 68k-based OS

    One could suggest that this is similar to the Mac OS X upgrade from 9.x.

    They are talking Intel for the platform, same as the latest generation of, well, everything. Processor should be in the 400mhz neighborhood.

    The direct goal is to maintain classic Palm "look and feel" plus compatibility, but with... well, stability. And Power.

    Once this platform rolls, Windows Mobile will, by my reckoning, be the only remaining platform NOT based on some flavor of *nix, unless you actually count Symbian and Blackberry as platforms...

    (yes, at least in a distant, hypothetical, degrees of separation NT derived sorta way, even Vista has *nix roots)
  • Re:Out with a bang? (Score:4, Informative)

    by shark72 (702619) on Monday May 21, 2007 @11:29PM (#19216819)

    "How, exactly, does software go out with a bang? Doesn't "bang" imply success, and therefore, not going out?"

    I think the editors may have been a bit too literary this time. It's from a T. S. Elliot poem called "The Hollow Men." The last two lines are:

    This is the way the world ends

    Not with a bang but a whimper.

    The meaning of the poem is subject to interpretation, but it's clear that the bang/whimper comparison very much refers to an end to the world.

  • by waterwingz (68802) on Monday May 21, 2007 @11:41PM (#19216913) Homepage
    My company recently gave me a Treo 700wx. Much to my horror, this proved to be much like Win95 on a very small screen. Except it was interfaced via a touch screen that required you to pull out "the stick" to do anything usefull. So I went to Best Buy and played with the PalmOS version of the same Treo 700. I was in love - the whole thing worked the way I would expect from the keypad or via big fat buttons on the touch screen. No stick required. But my company said "No, we are a Microsoft house". Curiously, they were also willing to let me go back to a real mobile phone / email device and I changed back to a Blackberry. I've never looked back.
  • by jinxidoru (743428) on Monday May 21, 2007 @11:55PM (#19216989) Homepage
    I have found that many people do not share my point-of-view with regards to Palm OS, but I must personally say that I hated it. The interface was easy enough to deal with as a user, but as a developer, it was a nightmare. I am so glad to see Palm OS go and be replaced with Linux.

    There were so many problems with the OS design. I could not understand why you would build an OS that lacked any sort of filesystem. Instead, they had a very crappy database-esque system from which you could retrieve data. You couldn't simply load a file onto the system, it had to be loaded into the database and accessed using their bass-akwards method of database access. Be aware, we're not talking SQL here.

    Another thing that was horrible was their lack of long-jumps. I had previously never had to specifically arrange the order of my object files in a link statement to avoid jumps further than 64k. There were times where I actually had to create functions that did nothing but call a later function so that I could make code jumps to functions further than 64k away. That made using the STL basically impossible (some would not consider this a loss, I do).

    Then you add in the ridiculousness of having to define UUIDs for programs. So, anytime you wanted to write any sort of small application, you had to register a 32-bit number (less actually) with Palm. There are better ways to do this. We don't live in the 70s anymore.

    Ugh! There are so many other problems. I just had to get this off my chest. Once they do this, maybe I'll go get a new Palm. I was never able to bring myself to buy a Windows CE device, but I have longed to have another PDA. Hopefully, these new Linux systems will be what I am looking for.

    Of course, it has been years since I programmed anything on Palm OS (version 5, I believe). So, for all I know, they fixed all of these problems and I will be the recipient of a massive amount of flame.
  • Re:Good. (Score:2, Informative)

    by that this is not und (1026860) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @12:08AM (#19217077)
    it has no ability to launch apps directly from a removable memory card,

    I am not sure what you're talking about, there. I specifically bought an SD form-factor card for my Tungsten E. It was a 'games pack' card and had Sim City and a bunch of other game programs burned into it, and it ran them in place, directly off the card.
  • by roseacres (995942) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @12:49AM (#19217327)
    After a couple of Palm PDA's and now on my second Treo, I have a different perspective. First - the Palm OS is stable - I took a Treo 600 on vacation through Turkey, a cruise, Greece, and Italy for a month. Never had a crash or had to reset once - rock solid using the phone everyday, sending emails, messaging, reading books, listening to MP3s, completing crosswords. Telephone worked great everywhere - even 10 miles off a barren Turkish coast. Swapped to a Treo 680 late last year. It works perfectly - I picked it up, loaded old familiar applications and started using immediately. Last time I did a reset was probably six weeks ago. Palm OS at an end - I don't think so - it does everything an average user wants, has had for years all the functionality others are just now crowing about. Yup, the camera sucks - that's why I carry a pocket Canon. Yup, no wireless, but a cheap unlimited data plan with Cingular sorta makes that a non-issue. So what's not to like about Palm OS? Windows Mobile may be great for a developer but it stinks from a user's view. There's absolutely nothing intuitive about the user interface. Now would anyone really like to say that it's reliable. Some tell me that it's improved a lot - they only have to reset once a day now. May be great when crunching code but what about us poor button pushers. I'll stick with Palm OS.
  • by acalthu (1045630) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @12:50AM (#19217337)
    The best handwriting recognition so far for me has been on the Sony Ericsson P910i. I own a Dopod PDA which is based on WIndows Mobile 5 and I can honestly say despite it's powerful features the handwriting recognition sucks. Firstly, it's no where near as fast as the Symbian platform is, and secondly you're limited to the amount screen space utilized as the writing area. Btw, the P910i uses a version of Graffiti 2 so maybe thats why it's so quick and efficient.
  • by ryanov (193048) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @01:14AM (#19217485)
    Do you still have one? A software update is due out next week or thereabouts.
  • Re:Out with a bang? (Score:2, Informative)

    by josephdrivein (924831) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @01:32AM (#19217593)
    The quote in the text is wrong:
    Not with a bang but with a whimper.

    Should be:
    Not with a bang but a whimper.

    Poetry should be quoted correctly, or not quoted at all.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @03:16AM (#19217985)
    The PalmOS kernel was actually licensed from a company that makes embedded systems. In order to get cheap licensing terms, they had to agree to never release the source code, and never implement multitasking. It's the last part that means they have to move to an entirely new kernel.

    They tried rewriting it (PalmOS 6), but it was an utter failure. Now they're trying to move to a Linux-based kernel.

    dom
  • by Zelos (1050172) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @03:51AM (#19218111)
    The long jump issue was pretty much solved by using multiple code sections. It's fairly easy with Codwarrior or gcc-palmos, although has a small performance cost. It is still a very bad OS to develop for: limited dynamic RAM compared to other handsets, the hassle of worrying about ARM/68k code still, the 'filesystem'.
  • by embsysdev (719482) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @04:21AM (#19218237)
    I wouldn't call it "solved". You can't use multiple code sections/segments on most launch codes, you have to manually organize your code into separate sections (for gcc anyways), each section has to be in a separate file, database records, resources (graphics), and memory allocations are still limited 64k no matter what... The memory model is a mess! However, I have to commend Palm for maintaining backward compatibility across completely different hardware architectures but sometimes I wish they would have made a clean break.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @04:38AM (#19218343)

    Once this platform rolls, Windows Mobile will, by my reckoning, be the only remaining platform NOT based on some flavor of *nix, unless you actually count Symbian and Blackberry as platforms..."
    Sorry but not only is Symbian a platform, it is, in the mobile realm, "the" platform, accounting for about two-third of the sales of all things smartphones worldwide.
    It is open, i.e. it has a standard, public SDK. Hence it is a "platform" (as opposed to mobile Linux phones whose SDK are usually neither public nor standard).

    So if you were talking specifically about mobile platforms, I could say that, once this platform rolls, by my reckoning, the new PalmOS will be the only major open platform based on some flavor of *nix, unless you count Linux feature-phones as platforms... (-:

    -Smiley
  • by embsysdev (719482) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @04:55AM (#19218403)
    That's true, but with gcc it's a better practice to keep them in separate files. It's documented here: http://prc-tools.sourceforge.net/doc/prc-tools_3.h tml#SEC18 [sourceforge.net]
  • by DMoylan (65079) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @06:49AM (#19218939)
    mod parent up.

    symbian has recently announced the sale of 100 million series 60 devices.
    http://www.allaboutsymbian.com/news/item/5198_One_ Hundred_Million_S60s.php [allaboutsymbian.com]

    that does not count series 40 or series 80 devices which make up a huge market in them selves.

    last year 2006, 80 million smart phones were sold. symbian had 38 million of those. they are the market.
    http://www.allaboutsymbian.com/news/item/4969_Ever y_other_smartphone_sold_ac.php [allaboutsymbian.com]

    now if i could only learn python on my nokia e61.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @08:21AM (#19219487)
    This was only true through Palm OS 4 (i.e. 68K-based devices). Palm OS 5, on ARM, uses a proprietary kernel developed by PalmSource.
  • Very sad (Score:3, Informative)

    by jshriverWVU (810740) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @10:16AM (#19220949)
    I've been a long time Palm-lover. I bought my first Palm IIIx my freshman year in college and loved it. I just recently upgraded to a (still older) m515 with SD card and color display and couldnt live without it.

    Palm is such a great OS for what it's designed to do. Plus it's always been programmer friendly (gcc m68k toolchain + the Palm SDK) which they distributed for free. Plus there was POSE for development and you could legally download roms for the different system from their development site for testing. Does MS do that?

    So for me, this is a sad day. It was fun while it lasted and I just hope mine doesn't break anytime soon.

  • Looks like its now free too for the palm.
    This site: http://www.fitaly.com/order/order.htm [fitaly.com]
    takes you to this site when you click on palm: https://fitaly.securesites.com/order/palmorder.htm [securesites.com]
    They have released it as freeware

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