Acorn mulls RiscOS spin-out
Back at the negotiating table
What the hell is a "limited press release"? In Acorn's case it's an announcement concerning plans for Risc OS 4 that: a) doesn't get sent to the press b) is nowhere to be found on its web site -- or buried very, very deep c) takes five days to get posted on Acorn Cybervillage, Stuart Halliday's fine Web site and the fount of all knowledge on things Acorn.
The 'press release' slipped out on 25 November at the Acorn Midlands Computer Show ("650 people through the doors on the day!" Apparently). It contains the latest plan, formulated by Acorn and The Steering Group, otherwise known as the Four Wise Men, to spin out Acorn's "stable, mature" Risc OS through a new company -- in exactly the fashion that ARM sprung from the loins of Acorn.
This company will have a new name. So we can literally wave goodbye to Acorn hardware. Presumably the CPU of choice for hardware assemblers for the RiscOS 4 would be the StrongARM 120 366MHz chip -- if and when Intel gets round to releasing it. And hopefully, the reference platform will incorporate 100-per cent standard non-proprietary hardware components, so keeping development costs and hardware prices down. But we are running ahead of ourselves. Nothing has been signed, sealed or delivered.
Whilst these discussions are at an early stage, both Acorn and the Steering Group are hopeful that an agreement can be reached quickly which will provide a secure roadmap for current and future RISC OS users. We shall see. It's interesting to see Acorn back at the negotiating table with its long-suffering resellers. So guys, the Begemann/Tulip negotiations didn't work out then? In recent months, Acorn has alienated its small but fiercely loyal band of customers and resellers.
Most of the IT world thinks Acorn hardware is an evolutionary dead-end -- unfortunately for its users, Acorn appears to agree with this assessment. By its actions, Acorn has demonstrated its unfitness for retaining control over the RiscOS platform. Over the years, the company hobbled its own PC platform by insisting on designing proprietary hardware -- a form of vertical integration that delivered short-term profits at the cost of expensive and late-delivered product.
This has to be the Last Chance Saloon -- for Acorn users, as opposed to that very small company called Acorn, sitting pretty on a hefty chunk of ARM shares. The company has a fully occupied design team, and maybe -- just maybe -- it will get to sink its teeth into a slice of the digital set-top pie.®
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