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Palm Changing OS Strategy 213

profet writes " is reporting that PalmSource plans to change its OS plans and simultaneously develop/release OS 6 and continue development on OS 5. The names shall be changed to reflect that they are both current. The plan is to have OS 5 for low end devices ($100 price point is a goal), and OS 6 for high end devices. This is a drastic change from their current practice of having one current OS drastically customized (read: hacked) to suit the manufacturer's needs. It looks like PalmSource is aiming directly at Symbian's success with Nokia's series 60 platform."
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Palm Changing OS Strategy

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  • What's not mentioned (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 05, 2004 @11:55PM (#8198006)
    Is that under the plan, the company will simultaneously develop multiple versions of its OS and aim them at different parts of the cell phone market. With OS 5, PalmSource was focused primarily on making a hardware transition.

    • by t0ny ( 590331 )
      It looks like PalmSource is aiming directly at Symbian's success with Nokia's series 60 platform

      Looks more like PalmSource is aiming at finally doing something besides losing money and market share.

      With all the buzz surrounding their product, PalmOS could have been the one OS to rule them all (all the small devices, that is). Instead, they waited until tons of other people made the kinds of moves they should have been making (handspring especially).

      Speaking of Handspring, if I were them I would have fl

      • They don't. But such is the way of the sleeping executive.

        I recall S3 buying Diamond Multimedia. Immediately preceeding the downfall of the combined company (blue something or another.) Why? Because S3 was going down anyway, and it was in my opinion an attempt for S3 executives to switch places with a more successful company. Didn't work. Alas, Diamond *was* the bomb.

        I also remember that graphics company that bought 3dfx or vice versa (STB?). Can't remember the name, but IMHO it was the same situati
    • And this is just the type of product segregation they don't need.

      In fact, Symbian already went this route with their, now defunct, DFRD roadmaps, targeting various form factors for handhelds. They determined that they themselves were not capable of resourcing the R&D necessary to meet the specific needs of their Licensees and soon ran out of funding: they concluded that it is even presumptuous to suppose one could even truly understand what these needs are!

      It is a disastrous business model to assume i

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 05, 2004 @11:56PM (#8198019)
    PalmOS 3.1 is for desktops.
    PalmOS 3.11 for Workgroups is for small networks.
    PalmOS NT is the server platform.
    PalmOS 95 *is* *the* upgrade for PalmOS 3.1.

    This is gonna end in tears...
    • by I Be Hatin' ( 718758 ) on Friday February 06, 2004 @12:02AM (#8198063) Journal
      This is gonna end in tears...


      Palm 98 is just like Palm 95, except it doesn't crash as much.
      Palm 2000 is the first stable palm.
      Palm XP is the Palm Experience... something most Slashdotters are already familiar with.

  • linux PDA? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by axxackall ( 579006 ) on Friday February 06, 2004 @12:00AM (#8198051) Homepage Journal
    If all I need is just a PIM (calendaring, contacts, notes, money, short messages), then what would be the reason to choose PalmOS vs Linux on PDA?

    Anyone with some experience with both? I used Palm Vx with Palm OS 3 and found it too buggy. I saw ads about Zaurus and found it interesting. I am really close to get Linux PDA. But before I cash out, is there anyone here who found a reason to migrate from Linux PDA to Palm OS?

    • Re:linux PDA? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by AnonymousCowheart ( 646429 ) on Friday February 06, 2004 @12:15AM (#8198128) Homepage
      Ive owned both the zaurus and a few palms, the newest model i have being the palm m500. While the zaurus is a great toy, palm "just works." the damn thing is fast, rarely (about 5times a year, due to bad software) crashes, and even then, it takes like a 30second reset.
      The zaurus however, does Much more, wireless, mp3 player, video player, etc. however as far as a PIM goes, you just can't beat palms ease of use, and speed. Especially graffitti, works great. Not to bash the zaurus, but i found myself 'setting it up' (see playing, trying to figure things out) more than being productive
      in the end, i use the b&w palm, why? besides the above notes, the batteries last MUCH longer in it then any color screen would. Nothing fancy, just a PIM, like you asked for;)
      • Re:linux PDA? (Score:3, Interesting)

        The Palm "just works"? Man, you must have REALLY low expectations. My Tungsten T2 has given me more trouble in six months than my Newton MP2100 has in a decade. The Palm syncronisation system is complete and utter crap, the notion of a PalmOS application is an absolute fantasy, with most remotely cutting edge apps being pretty much machine specific and - worst of all - when it decides to freak and lock up, the only way to get it going again is a long charge followed by a hard reset, which kills all of your
        • Speaking about hard-reset - that one thing that was annoying me with Palm Vx all the time - at least once a week I've lost all my data because it locked itself up completely. I've noticed that the more I've used categories and the more data I ahd in general (my memory was 8MB) - the more chance of the final crash.

          As for syncronizatio, I think it's a general problem in many cases, especially with intensive usage of categories - a sync software usually syncs your primary records, not categories, so, you eit

        • Re:linux PDA? (Score:3, Informative)

          by Stalus ( 646102 )

          I've had a Tungsten T for about a year now, and I've been very happy with it. For day to day things, I mostly use the standard aps, but I also use it occasionally as an mp3 player, HP48GX emulator (faster than my real version), and with my bluetooth phone I can check e-mail and look up stuff on the web, chat on ICQ, etc. I have a couple other random aps on there that are useful too.

          I had a Treo 300 for a brief stint and it locked up like crazy, and I understand what you mean about that driving you nuts.

      • Rarely crashes? I'm guessing you didn't make the mistake of flashing the ROM on a Tungsten C. Crashes any time I enter an arbitrary url into the go menu.
    • by WIAKywbfatw ( 307557 ) on Friday February 06, 2004 @12:16AM (#8198139) Journal
      If all I need is just a PIM (calendaring, contacts, notes, money, short messages), then what would be the reason to choose PalmOS vs Linux on PDA?

      If all you need is just a PIM (calendaring, contacts, notes, money, short messages), then why would you ever consider choosing a Linus over PalmOS on a PDA?

      PalmOS is built for the job, fast enough to do what you want (and more), power efficient, etc.

      Stop looking for a sledgehammer to crack a nut and give serious consideration to a Zire or Tungsten. Which one is best for you depends on how honest you are when you say you're looking for "just a PIM".
      • you make a veryt good point. However some people like to support open source, and are willing to go the extra mile to do so.

        Now, my base line Nokia cell phone can also act as a pim. I'm prettu sure most cell phones can be your PIM.
        I just wish I could load some personal pictures on it.
      • Perhaps PalmOS is built for the job, but also it's built for the crash in the middle of the job. Usually people associate reliability with servers, but it's getting really annoying whn your PDA locks up at the middle of meeting. Even more - you have to press hardware reset and all you data is gone.
        • I was going to mod you down, but decided to debate this instead. What PalmOS are you running? I've been using Palm since the Palm IIIx, and I've never had it crash on me outside of poorly designed software. You said you needed a hard reset -- for what? A soft reset should be just fine for any crashes that occur -- the only hard reset I've ever had to do is when I screwed up upgrading the OS.

          There's a reason why most industrial PDAs are Palm based. It's very solid. It may not look like mini-windows (

        • Palm crashes? (Score:4, Interesting)

          by jackDuhRipper ( 67743 ) on Friday February 06, 2004 @02:07AM (#8198722) Homepage
          Others'MMV, but I've owned / used / beaten to near-death 4 different Palms since the III (c.1998) and I can count on my fingers & toes the number of crashes I recall. The preponderance of those are recent*.

          When I say "owned / used ..." I'm talking every day, shutting the thing on and off probably 20 times each day, taking meeting notes (~40 WPM with Graffitti), and reading AvantGo news and PDFs as well as playing games. This in addition to the calandar and To Dos tracking I originally intended.

          Never have any of them (III, IIIx, IIIxe, Tungsten T) locked up in the middle of doing these things - they've locked up when syncing, when Finding (searching) against "bad apps," when attempting to switch from a live "Arkanoid" game, but never in the middle of real usage.

          *- Also, at least in recent Tungsten memory, when I have reset it, it hasn't lost a damn thing - Not a Note, not a To Do, nor a Calendar entry.

          OS 6 - architected and built by the BeOS engineers - looks interesting. I use it much more for "traditional PDA" stuff, but the BeOS was always smart and ass-kicking.

          • Others'MMV, but I've owned / used / beaten to near-death 4 different Palms since the III (c.1998) and I can count on my fingers & toes the number of crashes I recall. The preponderance of those are recent*.

            My Tungsten T3 crashes and/or hangs with some regularity. The previous T3 (which went back because of a bad digitizer) crashed even more frequently. So did the Sony Clie I had before.

            The m500 I was using before that was fairly reliable, as long as I did not install any third party software.

        • My Palm devices (Palm Pro, Visor, M515 and Zire) have hardly ever crashed using various PalmOS versions (pre OS 5) - particularly the Zire since I don't have many hacks or apps installed.

          By contrast, my Symbian based SonyEricsson P800 is incredibly crash prone - sometimes it just locks up and I have to restart the phone; other times it just goes into a weird countdown screen requiring a restart. It's also very upset if it goes out of coverage for a long time (e.g. a day) and usually crashes after that. A
          • I forgot to say that over Xmas I took some photos on the P800 and it then had a really bad crash that re-formatted the C drive (yes, it really said that as it was booting), requiring a full restore from backup.

            This was made worse by the very slow backup process on the P800 (unlike the Palm's incremental one), which prevents you receiving calls - hence my only backup was some days old. The result was that I lost a lot of photos... This is the main reason I'm buying a Treo 600 even though it's less than a
            • I used Nextell before, like 3-4 years ago. Too primitive for todays phones, but it worked. The best part - it kept all the data on the server. So I could through away my phone, get anotherone, tune it to my number - and - ta-da - all my data was back with me. Besides, it still could sync with your external devices through the serial cable. Too bad the screen was too small, and too bad I can find a local provider here (in Ontaro) with the same service.
    • Re:linux PDA? (Score:5, Informative)

      by bwy ( 726112 ) on Friday February 06, 2004 @12:25AM (#8198188)
      I have owned a Zaurus and a Sony Clie (Palm OS 4). They are two different beasts. The Clie is a great address book, calendar, etc. and has good desktop software that I like since i refuse to use Outlook for calendaring. It is a small device and great at the traditional PDA functions. Synching is very refined and works well with XP and OS X 10.3 using iSync. I can sync right to Address Book and iCal.

      The Zaurus was excellent at web browsing, hacking, running Java, running a real pop3 mail client, etc. Plug in a cheap WiFi CF card and you are good to go. But here is the thing. It is horrible at calendaring, synching, etc. The desktop software is pathetic. You almost certainly have to consider the Zaurus a very small linux based PC that stands by itself and forget about the desktop integration part.

      All that being said, I sold the Zaurus on E-Bay recently and kept the Clie. The Zaurus is by far the best "toy". However, having a handheld Internet connected device wasn't that useful (for me, anway) especially since I own a 12 inch iBook. Having a list of important phone numbers and my calendar with me at all times and available instantly is important though and Palm devices do that very well.

      Depending on what you want and need, the Zaurus might be a great choice. I had no complaints. It was stable and overall really cool. There is just something cool about using a handheld as a web server. (but then you inevitably end up asking "WHY"!)
      • What's specifically wrong with calendaring in Zaurus? Your answer can be really helpful for me.
      • You should have waited for the Lycoris ROM to be released [], whenever that will be. It doesn't appear to be on anywhere, perhaps I'm wrong.
      • The Clie is a great address book, calendar, etc

        I have to say, I can't agree with you less. I recently bought a Clie, and while the hardware design is great (apart from the speaker being way to quiet), the OS (4) is rubbish. It has all the PIM features you need, but absolutely no integration - you can't for example set a time on a ToDo item and have it appear in the diary, or set an alarm for it. There is no way to sync the address book with a phone over irda. It doesn't use any open file formats. The

    • Re:linux PDA? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by zulux ( 112259 ) on Friday February 06, 2004 @12:51AM (#8198328) Homepage Journal

      If all you need is a PIM - Palm is definatly the way to go.

      I *love* my Zaurus 700 series- it's fun to SSH into a server with 80x24 characters and a real keyboard , but for PIM stuff, it's slow and clunky.

    • f all I need is just a PIM (calendaring, contacts, notes, money, short messages), then what would be the reason to choose PalmOS vs Linux on PDA?

      Battery life.

      The limiting factor in a PDA is the weight of the battery. Energy density has been improving at a microscopic rate compared to transistor density. The biggest consumer of battery life in these devices, other than the backlight, are memory accesses and processor cycles. For a typical PIM operation (look up a phone number or the next appointment tim

    • I've had them all, the Linux Zaurus stuff is among the worst of the bunch in terms of software. The hardware is fine but as a day to day PDA it is just the pits. My SL-5500 is acting as a coaster at the moment it's largeley useless on a day to day basis. You might just write me off as a troll, but I use Linux every day, my entire home network is Linux based and it is the wrong tool for PDA technology. Unless someone comes up with an entirely new user interface of course, qtopia is just dreadful.

      So far, ea

      • ... is Linux based and it is the wrong tool for PDA technology. Unless someone comes up with an entirely new user interface of course, qtopia is just dreadful.

        Speaking about GUI for PIM ... Is it really necessary to be Graphical? I mean, in PIM requirements there is no actually graphics per se. So, the small, simple, stable (and yet useful!) ncurses-based dialog should work fine.

        Anyone seen ncurses-based PIM for Linux?

      • Which ROM? I hated all the ROMs based of the official Sharp ROMs, but OpenZaurus is great. Other people prefer Cacko, TKC and others.

        I've used a PocketPC and it was awful. My sister has a Visor, my Brother-in-law has a Palm, many friends have Clies (and I am intimately familiar with the Clie hardware and software), and all Palm OS devices seem to kinda suck. Either you get half the screen taken up by the Graffiti area and a slow limited device or you get a bigger screen and a device that is still limit
    • If all I need is just a PIM (calendaring, contacts, notes, money, short messages), then what would be the reason to choose PalmOS vs Linux on PDA?

      Well, those applications are what Palm does well (if you define "well" as "doing better than the competition"). And it's pretty much the only thing it does well. So, if that's what you want, hold your nose and get yourself a Palm. That's what I did. The Palm will crash/hang with regularity, but you won't lose data.

      The Zaurus (I have one) isn't good for PIM
      • Thank you (and all other who answered) for the advise. Meanwhile I am adding cell-phones to my comparison too: with cell-phones you can keep all your data on the ASP server and that makes your cell-embedded PIM to be independent from memory limitations.

        What we need is a Linux-based PDA with Palm-like applications. But nobody is offering that.

        As I've suggested in the other comment: we need CLI-based Linux-PDA with ncurses-based PIM applications. Anyone?

    • From your post:

      " If all I need is just a PIM (calendaring, contacts, notes, money, short messages),...."

      There are a lot of cell phones out there that can do that much for around $100 - $150.

      Depends on what you mean by "money". If you mean something like Quicken of GnuCash, then you do need a PDA. OTOH - if you're just talking about keeping track of daily expenses, you might be able to do it on a full featured cell phone these days.

  • Linux on Palm (Score:3, Interesting)

    by armando_wall ( 714879 ) on Friday February 06, 2004 @12:05AM (#8198079) Homepage

    Alternatives to PalmOS, anyone?

    Has anyone tried LinuxDA []? It sounds like an interesting alternative, even being a commercial product.

  • Cool, erm... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ravensign ( 134410 ) on Friday February 06, 2004 @12:08AM (#8198097)
    I thought this was a really cool article, then I realized its not 1998.

    Does Palm have any kind of momentum at all anymore?
    • by Ralph Wiggam ( 22354 ) * on Friday February 06, 2004 @12:21AM (#8198168) Homepage
      Does downward momentum count? If it does, then yes.

    • by Kenja ( 541830 ) on Friday February 06, 2004 @12:59AM (#8198372)
      Are you kidding? Palm is kicking the Apple Newtons ass! I hear Microsoft is working on a product to try and compete, but I doubt anything will come of it.
    • I was really going to mod you down, but decided to discuss this one.

      PalmSource has all sorts of momentum. They have created the best PDA experience hands-down. Setup for bluetooth and wifi is a piece of cake compared to Pocket PC. Their applications run fast and are not bloatware. And it's not just me saying this. Although they're not the only kids on the block, they still have a tremendous following for their ability to create a solid OS. By reinventing themselves and allowing their OS to be used o

    • Yes, the Palm market does have momentum. The lower prices of the Zire and similar models is making them more attractive to non-technical consumers. One instance of this is Rymans (a UK office supply chain commonly found in the center of towns), who have recently begun stocking them.

      The biggest threat to the overall Palm market is Dell's recent low cost bundle of the Axim. I haven't seen any manufacturer bundling Palms with system purchase...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 06, 2004 @12:09AM (#8198103)
    how about "Palm OS Full-Speed" and "Palm OS Hi-Speed"?
  • As a BeOS fan (Score:3, Insightful)

    by That's Unpossible! ( 722232 ) * on Friday February 06, 2004 @12:19AM (#8198153)
    I have high hopes for PalmOS 6. Combine guys that created a great OS with some of the minds that created a great handheld, and ... my fingers are crossed. Does anyone have any details on v6.0? Screenshots? Technical specs?

    I envision a white device with yellow borders... ummm.
  • by mnmn ( 145599 ) on Friday February 06, 2004 @12:27AM (#8198200) Homepage
    Palm OS is the OS for low-end devices with simple functions which do not require the headache of viruses/spyware/BSOD etc, and which do simple monotasking applications on budget ram and flash and no MMU.

    Try to overdevelop Palm OS into a GUI layers, multitasking, and other higher end stuff, and youre directly competing with Linux, QNX, BSD and BeOS (maybe they plan to merge their BeOS with Palm on higher end). They should not want that. Linux with the community backing, applications, tools, hackibility etc will win hands down and we'll see people buying Dell machines, replacing Windows XP with Linux, getting the free PDA and replacing its PalmOS with Linux + XFree86 and its tools.

    I think Palm should try to remain as simple as PalmOS 3.5 or 4.0 and instead focus more on applications. The OS should be developed to deal with more hardware, make easy-to-use SDKs to gather applications from the community and to handle nice themes. Thats all. Pretty soon someone will shrink x86 to palm size and make it consume power as little as the ARM720T, and Microsoft will rush to modify Windows XP for it, and people will just replace that with Linux. Palm will then have to rely solely on their lower end OS on even smaller devices.
    • by GarfBond ( 565331 ) on Friday February 06, 2004 @01:17AM (#8198461)
      You have absolutely no idea what a palm device is used for. On a palm device, you *do not* load Windows XP on it. These are items with around 400MHz Intel XScale and around 32-64MB of memory.

      PalmOS is for palm-sized devices (e.g. ORGANIZERS) that have very little flexibility as far as data loss, convenience, and user-friendliness. No user wants to open up a console and mess with XF86 settings to try and get their organizer working right in the middle of a meeting.

      Part of the reason Palm is still popular is because of the fundamental design decisions made with the OS. Which is to be, above all, a damn good organizer. Part of what Palm realized (and what Apple hadn't yet with the Newton) is that user requirements for an organizer is significantly different from a computer. Users expect it to work just as well as their wristwatch. A great article to read on this is the "Zen of Palm" ( ZenTOC.html)

      In the handheld market, Palm is competing with PocketPC (or as it's less affectionately known, Windows Mobile-based Pocket PC) and to a very much lesser extent, Linux on the Zaurus.

      In the phone market, Palm is competing yet again with Windows and then Symbian. And this division of markets is why they're concurrently developing OS 5 and 6.

      And, for your information, PalmSource owns Be. Part of the whole point of OS6 is that Be engineers are putting significant efforts into it.
      • PalmOS... (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ajagci ( 737734 )
        PalmOS is for palm-sized devices (e.g. ORGANIZERS) that have very little flexibility as far as data loss, convenience, and user-friendliness. No user wants to open up a console and mess with XF86 settings to try and get their organizer working right in the middle of a meeting.

        I have a Palm (a T3 if you must know). It crashes with regularity, it hangs with regularity, it has weird "breathing spaces", where it doesn't respond for a few seconds. When migrating between different versions, I have lost data (
        • Re:PalmOS... (Score:3, Informative)

          by GarfBond ( 565331 )
          OS5 does seem to be a little different, and yes, it does seem that it's very easy to drift away from design principles.

          Nevertheless, I stand by my original comments. Visit the forums, and while there are some people experiencing problems like yours, most seem to be getting by fine. And Palm is commendable for even having design principles to begin with (keep in mind these were probably published with some of the very early palms)

          I only brought up XF86 because the original poster did,
    • by schmaltz ( 70977 ) on Friday February 06, 2004 @03:03AM (#8198953)
      Look, Palm devices have gone from being about as fast as your wristwatch, up to today's being as powerful as laptops of a few years ago (400mhz, 32MB+ RAM, hundreds of megs in SD/MMC.) For a handheld computer that runs for days on battery power, that's quite a bit of power, and possibility.

      They're powerful enough to play mp3s and movies, they do wifi, the pen interface has gotten simpler and more accurate. But it's all limited by the operating system. The problem with PalmOS is, it's built around a Windows 3.x-style event loop with no threading. "Cooperative multiprocessing," if you can call it that.

      Word today from a developer at a biggish PalmOS app development company, is that Palm has gotten some of the BeOS blokes to develop a microkernel, threading, and device driver architecture; that'll be OS 6.0. It won't be open source, sadly, but it'll have Palm's usual level of documentation and support.

      Look at the Zaurus for the example of a pocket computer that's reaching in the right direction: Linux with multitasking, device drivers... mad extensibility. Palm don't got that today.. although I think running KDE is a bit of overdevelopment. Who needs a terminal window, these things have enough power to process speech recognition? That's why the O/S needs to grow.
    • Palm OS is the OS for low-end devices with simple functions which do not require the headache of viruses/spyware/BSOD etc, and which do simple monotasking applications on budget ram and flash and no MMU.

      Well, since even the low-end Zire has 8M of RAM and a 126MHz ARM processor--more powerful than desktop workstations of maybe ten years ago--obviously, that makes it "the OS" for absolutely nothing anymore.

      PalmOS regularly BSODs anyway, and the only reason it doesn't have viruses or spyware is because it i
  • by teamhasnoi ( 554944 ) <> on Friday February 06, 2004 @12:36AM (#8198239) Journal
    I really think that Palm should drop support for their embedded OS and focus on a Desktop OS, that they can give away for free and compete with Microsoft for bootmanager rights on OEM desktops.

    What could go wrong?

    • Yeah, I noticed that too... It's nice to know that when they aquired the company, they didn't just get rights to the code and technology; they also got the rights to any crazy ideas formerly owned by the company.

      Too bad it doesn't always work that way... It would have been nice if Compaq inherited DEC's ideology as well, instead of getting the least of both worlds.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    . . . I'm wonder what the next chapter in Palm's history will be. Chapter 7? Or 11?


  • by Grrr ( 16449 ) <> on Friday February 06, 2004 @12:41AM (#8198277) Homepage Journal
    I want to root for Palm. Really.

    Even broke down and bought a used IIIXE... which died a month later. I know there is much newer tech out there now, and geeky individual buyers are not the preferred target market. I could probably get this doorstop fixed - but my cell phone and Blackberry are covering the basic PIM and game bases.

    And I've never had to reboot the piece of paper in my wallet with all the phone numbers on it. Even a phone with an OS of any complexity makes me nervous. Again, I know they don't care about incidental sales...

    This is a toy I would like to be able to con myself into "needing" -but at $300-$400 and formidable network access charges, it isn't that inconvenient to check e-mail with the cell phone or haul the laptop around.

    While there many not be many people with the same mindset, I wonder if a $100 price point (for a device with some expansion capabilities) wouldn't get people like me off the fence.

    • Lucky for you, palmone already thought of that: 1/

      If $99 is too much for you, then there's a slower, older, less memory version of it for $79.

      Granted, there's no backlight or expansion on either of these, but they're cheap.
  • What I've Gathered (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Eideteker ( 641508 )
    Palm OS 6, according to [], is basically redesigned from the ground up to embrace wireless networking. Palm OS 5 is staying because, quite honestly, it works. I never owned an earlier generation PDA, but I swear by my T3. I haven't experienced any of the bugs I hear about from OS 3 users.

    Plus, it doubles as my mp3 player to take to work in the morning (with the addition of a handy SD Cruzer drive) and it impresses the heck out of people.

  • PalmSource has made a mess of the platform from a developer's perspective. It used to be that all Palm OS systems were more or less the same--slow 68k processor, very small address space, small 160x160 monochrome touch screen. As the technology moved down in price, Palm OS systems started to get improvements like faster ARM processors (endian change!), more memory, and high resolution color screens. The problems are several:

    • The hardware became too varied. Palm OS form resources use absolute positioning, so it's not easy designing a form for different screen resolutions. Having multiple copies of each form is a pain in the ass, both when creating the forms and when writing the code.
    • The APIs became fragmented. Until recently, every device manufacturer with a resolution above 160x160 (or a collapsable input area) had its own API. Some developers of 3rd party apps go out of their way to support all of these--but most just support none.
    • The development tools became too complicated. POSE was great, but now every device seems to requires its own emulator or simulator. Not every simulator makes it to every development platform. It becomes a pain in the ass to test for all the devices out there.
    • Backwards compatibility was either overpursued or underpersued. For the former, consider sysAppLaunchCmdFind. Find is enormously painful to support--no globals, no exceptions, etc. But with the amount of memory in today's machines, there's no reason this launch code can't be accompanied by globals. Then in apps I can't be bothered supporting Find in, I'd be more likely to write the code--though it would only run if I had a launch flag to tell me my globals are present (sysAppLaunchFlagNewGlobals | sysAppLaunchFlagSubCall). For a lack of backwards compatibility, look at VFS.

    So in summary, life has been frustrating for Palm OS developers. But the real losers here are the users. What used to be a vibrant community of 3rd party developers has somewhat dried up. People simply aren't writing as many good, device-neutral Palm OS apps as they used to.

    • It is hard supporting all the different types of Palm hardware. I get a lot of email requests saying "can you support feature XYZ" on my SuperDuper PalmClone. I just don't have development time to include them all.

      One thing at least is guaranteed though - a (not-badly-written) app written for an old Palm will at least run and look identical on any new device. It may not support new features, but it will work.
      My biggest annoyance is the fact that there is no Linux version of the Simulator. Rebooting into w
  • by zapp ( 201236 ) on Friday February 06, 2004 @01:11AM (#8198423)
    Boy are you guys gonna hate me for even suggesting Microsoft....

    A lot of people are asking for alternatives to PalmOS... well, how about it's #1 competator: PocketPC?

    I have been playing with the HP iPAQs recently, and am trying to find one at a reasonable price, and lemme tell you I am in love.

    I owned a Visor Delux back when they came out, and it just sucked after a while. Handwriting was a pain in the ass; the software worked, but was limited; there was no good solution for document editing/viewing; audio, video and networking functions were nonexistant at the time. Even then, the top of the line HP Journadas could play mp3s and had a color screen.

    If you want something to replace your pocket pad of paper, go with a palm I guess. If you want a *computer* in your pocket, go with a PocketPC... I personally am drooling over the HP h1945, h2215, and h4155's.

    • Lust or Love? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) *
      Of all the people I have ever seen buy organizers, I recall only one that has bought and used a PocketPC for longer than a few months (as in - carried with him/her frequently).

      I have had my Palm V for years and years now, and it has been with me every day.

      The PocketPC appear to have some nice features, but after you settle down and just want a no hassle device that works without fuss (or a lot of charging) people often head for a Palm, even now.
    • by evilviper ( 135110 ) on Friday February 06, 2004 @02:39AM (#8198877) Journal
      If you want something to replace your pocket pad of paper, go with a palm I guess.

      So far, so good...

      If you want a *computer* in your pocket, go with a PocketPC...

      No, if you want an incredibly unstable, and feature-stripped WINDOWS PC in your pocket, then get a WinCE device. If you want to hit the reset button twice a day, get a WinCE device. If you want to waste a good part of your day staring at the pretty colors the screen displays, while getting nothing at all accomplished, get a WinCE device. Yes, 'wince' is quite a good name for it...

      I personally am drooling over the HP h1945, h2215, and h4155's.

      It's a typical ploy these days. Load a device with tons and tons of features (none of which are complete, or even usable in real terms) and people will be suckered into buying them... That's the same strategy Microsoft uses with Windows... It includes an "image editor" (MS Paint, it's not Photoshop or Gimp, but it gets the same moniker), MP3 playback (forget the fact that WMP sucks at music playback compared to Winamp, XMMS, Zinf, etc.), video editing (that's sure a joke), and many many more like this.

      I found out the same thing about a month after I bought my Casio E-100... It seemed so great, fast, and could do anything (at least on paper). After I threw it away, I got a Psion with a CPU about 1/3rd the speed, that outperformed that E-100 by leaps and bounds. Yes, Windows is slow as hell on the desktop, and WindowsCE is keeping that tradition alive on low-end processors. My Psion also had infinitely more USEFUL features than my WindowsCE device.

      Instead of a crappy text editor that can do nothing (WinCE), I got a whole office suite that could do 99% what the desktop equivalent could. Even embedding images, graphs, charts, or spreadsheets in word documents. My WindowsCE machine couldn't even print on it's own, meanwhile my Psion could print directly to an Infrared or Serial-port printer, without any other computer attached.

      Windows CE, you see, is meant to be nothing more than a "desktop companion", which depends very very heavily on your Windows machine. Psions (aka Symbian, aka EPOC), are full-fledged computers on their own, and have every feature you would want if you intend to do REAL WORK on them.

      Palm devices are glorified notepads with alarm clocks, and they do that particular job quite well. WinCE machines are just expensive toys, that claim to do everything, but aren't proficent enough to do anything even reasonably well. Psion/Symbian/EPOC devices are incredibly powerful, stable, intuitive, high performance, and are quite nearly desktop replacements.

      As a matter of fact, my last year of college, I didn't do anything on my desktop or notebook... I typed up all papers in the word processor, wrote and tested all C programs, typed up and sent out all e-mails (to instructors and other students), browsed the web, uploaded/downloaded files, and printed out everything directly from my Psion. And on the handful of occasions I needed to connect to a computer, I used telnet, a seral-port terminal emulator, and a Java SSH program to connect to them.

      Windows CE sucks, hard, and I'm more than qualified to say so.
  • I like my Palm(s)... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MsGeek ( 162936 ) on Friday February 06, 2004 @01:22AM (#8198479) Homepage Journal
    I paid $50 for a refurbed Palm m100 about two years ago. The thing is still running, fat, sassy and happy. I now basically run my life on an m125. Again, bought refurbed, this time for $60 after you factor in the rebate.

    I had to move to the m125 because there's a glitch in PalmOS before version 3.5.2 that conflicts with certain apps running on MacOS 9.x, and the m100 can't have its OS upgraded because it's burned to ROM. The m125 has PalmOS 4.0.1 burned to ROM and it coexists beautifully with my Mac G3 Blue-and-white, my Windows desktop and my dual-booting Thinkpad 600e.

    The thing that really kicks ass about Palm is Palm Desktop. You can still download it from for FREE as in beer (not free as in freedom but what do you expect from a closed-source for-profit software/hardware company like Palm) and it is a great little PIM program regardless of whether you use it for syncing your Palm or just keeping your appointments straight.

    Sure, a Zaurus would be able to do more. Yes, PalmOS is crashy and cranky...what do you expect from something that basically is like MacOS before the MultiFinder was born? Still and all, it does what I need it to do, no more, no less.

    Most importantly, carrying around my little Palm is easier on the shoulders and back than carrying around a 3 pound paper-and-pencil planner. That you cannot deny.
    • This is probably redundant but... I much share the same experience. After thinking about a handheld for a long time, I had a chance to grab a refurbished m125. The biggest issue is, I've become addicted to the little thing since then :-)

      The software supplied with the Palm covers most of my needs. My biggest - and most expensive - addition is a MS Money companion - which actually turned the Money desktop software into something USEFUL, as now i do almost all the data entry on the Palm and work on the deskto
  • by vik ( 17857 ) on Friday February 06, 2004 @01:39AM (#8198546) Homepage Journal
    I'm a developer of PalmOS and WinCE/PocketPC applications and I realised that fighting any kind of multiple-platform market required a cross-platform tool that works under top-notch IDEs like Eclipse. And there is one. And it's Free.

    By writing programs in SuperWaba [] - a cut down Java VM - I avoid most of the crap associated with who has what version of what device. Palm V2.0 to WindowsXP/CE, I have just one application to develop and it runs on all platforms - even in a web browser.

    Don't leave home without it :)

    Vik :v)
  • by MMHere ( 145618 ) on Friday February 06, 2004 @01:49AM (#8198613)
    I don't intend this to be a troll.

    They don't currently have a RealOS(tm), so why is acquiring/building a real OS considered a change in OS strategy?

    When I say they don't have an OS right now, I mean:

    - It doesn't do preemptive multitasking, so multiple tasks don't run simultaneously very well. It requires tasks to voluntarily yield, much like MacOS's before OS X. (Palm software people are old Apple software people anyway...) The Palms I've used also did very little in the way of letting multiple tasks run simultaneously. Usually the "top" app is all that's happening (possibly ignoring some interrupt driven background I/O).

    - It doesn't have process memory space protection, AFAIK. Without multiple tasks actually running at the same time, this is less of an issue. Palms do, however, "crash" and need to be rebooted sometimes. Certainly this happens more often than on ucLinux PDAs...

    If they're making those things possible (and PalmOS 6 is claimed to be "better at multitasking," so it sounds like they are), then it may be worthy of actually calling it an Operating System.
    • by Ghengis ( 73865 )
      having preemptive multitasking, or multitasking period is NOT a requirement for being an OS. Neither is having memory protection. All an OS has to do control (allow) execution of programs and *may* provide various services such as accessing hardware. Now, this doens't mean that an OS without multitasking or memory space protection is any "good", but it is still an OS.
    • Playing words (Score:3, Insightful)

      by varjag ( 415848 )
      Since when an operating system have to have preemptive multitasking?

      Primary function of an OS is to provide operating environment for applications, that is: handle I/O, interface to hardware, do some common low-level operations. Other features (e.g. any form of multitasking, memory management, GUI) can be included or not, based on specific needs.

      And you know what? For an organizer, preemptive multitasking isn't anywhere near top priority: typically one uses a limited set of applications for very short per
      • Am not a typical Palm user, and often whished for Palm to have multitasking (e.g. I sit in IRC and suddenly need to look up someone's address), but for most Palm users it is not an essential feature.

        The consequences are quite visible even to people who don't do that sort of thing. For example, you can't switch apps when certain dialog boxes are up and views change haphazardly when you go from one application to another and back again. Multitasking would solve that. You don't need multitasking to solve
    • "It doesn't do preemptive multitasking, so multiple tasks don't run simultaneously very well."
      PalmOS' kernel (AMX) is actually licensed from Kadak. Under the terms of that license they are seriously limited for upgrades: they're restricted from preemptive multitasking or using it on different/multiple processors, BY LICENSE, not by design.
  • Same strategy. (Score:4, Informative)

    by Trillan ( 597339 ) on Friday February 06, 2004 @02:20AM (#8198795) Homepage Journal

    This isn't news at all. This has been Palm's strategy for the past few years -- one OS for low-end devices, one for high end.

    The only difference is the previously high-end OS is becoming the low-end. Which will happen again one day with Palm OS 6.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 06, 2004 @03:48AM (#8199093)
    It cracks me up to see all these PocketPC fans compare their latest big, heavy PocketPC beast to the ancient Visor Deluxe or Palm IIIXE. Those machines are at least two generations old!

    I had just about given up on Palm -- until I got hold of the new Tungsten T3.

    The Tungsten T3 has a gorgeous aluminum case with the same form factor as the classic Palm V-- meaning it will actually fit in your shirt pocket, and it runs at 400mhz with 64mb of RAM. It plays movies, it plays mp3's, has a built-in voice recorder, bluetooth, and plenty of other *actually useful* features, plus a huge library of software.

    So please, if you're going to compare, be fair.
  • BeOS (Score:4, Insightful)

    by octal666 ( 668007 ) on Friday February 06, 2004 @06:16AM (#8199559)
    I've heard PalmOS bought a while ago the old good BeOS, might it be they are planning to use it as the new PalmOS 6?

    By the way, just yesterday I bought a Tungsten T2 and it's my first PDA, and the first thing I see this morning is Palm is changing something, I've broke in cold sweat while reading the story. Slashdot is going to kill me one day.
  • by Jouni ( 178730 ) on Friday February 06, 2004 @06:39AM (#8199637)
    It's very easy to see why Palm would be doing this - there is a fairly big stock of devices out there.

    Touting the new OS 6 as the best thing since sliced bread would make it extremely hard to ship pre-6 devices, both for themselves and all the licensors. So understandably they have to downplay its meaning to avoid sitting on warehouses full of Tungsten devices nobody wants to buy.

    It's somewhat amusing that the only named benefits they can find for the old OS is smaller footprint and cost. :) If there are two real market segments for the two operating system versions, they would be "people frustrated with crippled non-multithreading 16-bit legacy OS" and "people who just don't care". Unfortuntely, you can't sell Tungsten @ 400 USD for the second group.

    I will hold my judgement on whether Palm OS 6 really is the savior of Palm, but as with any projects this magnitude, expect this too will take a while to mature.

  • Honestly, why? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Roguelazer ( 606927 )
    I've used Palms and PocketPC's since Palm OS 3.0 and Windows CE 3.0 (PocketPC 2000, that is). The WinCE is a real OS, yes, as many people have pointed out. However, I ask WHO NEEDS MULTITASKING? You can only fit one program at a time on that screen anyhow... Load times for Palm are next to nothing, so what's the point of multitasking when it's just as fast to open the app anew... You can't compare PocketPC to Palm. PosketPC is like Windows, with separate storage and execution memory, and with a footprint bi

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