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Sharp Linux PDA to be first next-gen Amiga device

Amiga Digital Environment to drive content generation

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Amiga's next-generation operating system is at long, long last to get a home of its own: Sharp's upcoming Linux version of the Zaurus PDA.

While Sharp's comments on the new device have focused on Linux and Java as the twin foundations of its plan to return to the top of the PDA totem pole, we noticed that the Java implementation the company will use is UK software developer Tao's Intent Java Edition, a kind of platform-independent hybrid Java virtual machine/just-in-time compiler.

Now, Tao's technology also forms the basis of Amiga's Amiga Digital Environment. Amiga DE is essentially an object-oriented rich media operating environment designed to be scalable across multiple devices from cellphone to PCs, and - thanks to Tao - operable on almost any CPU.

An interesting connection between Amiga and Sharp we thought, and now we learn it's more than coincidence. The two companies have entered into a "long-term partnership" that will see Amiga develop "content" for Sharp's new PDAs.

The deal certainly marks something of a turning point for Amiga. It finally provides the company and the Amiga developer community with a broad platform to work with rather than the ever-dwindling band of die-hards still hanging on to their old Amiga games machines.

It will also provide Amiga with a real-world demonstration of its software's capabilities. That may help it evangelise DE to other developers and hardware makers.

That said, even Sharp seems only partly convinced, which is probably why it's been touting Linux and Java rather more than it has the Amiga DE. It undoubtedly expects more third-party apps - it's predicting over 10,000 by this time next year - to come from Java developers than DE coders.

In other words, Sharp is covered if the Amiga component fails to draw development work.

Which, given the size of the Amiga community, it may not. Then again, if Sharp's sales predictions come true - one million units sold by the end of March 2002 - that could be just what the community needs to stir itself to action. ®

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