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Palm admits new OS 18 months away

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Palm CEO Ed Colligan has confirmed the new Palm OS won't be finished until the end of 2008. Originally scheduled for release by the end of this year, the operating system's launch date has continued to be pushed back, despite the added attention of the engineers freed up by the scrapping of Foleo last month.

The new OS will allow Palm to release a whole range of products, including something similar to the ill-fated Foleo. Development is, apparently, progressing "as well as possibly could be expected".

Palm OS was developed by Palm for its organisers. In 2003, Palm spun out its OS division into a separate company (PalmSource), and licensed the OS back, with a view to licensing to other people as well. There was not much interest, however, and when Palm started using Windows Mobile for some of its own devices, things looked very grim for PalmSource.

So PalmSource, and the rights to Palm OS, were bought by Japanese mobile software company Access, which said it would create a Linux base, with a Palm compatibility layer, and called it Access Inc's mobile Linux Project (ALP).

Meanwhile Palm, the hardware manufacturer, licensed the Palm OS back from Access, and announced that it too would be using a Linux base for a (different) new version of Palm OS, with a compatibility layer. This is the version now scheduled for release at the end of 2008.

Quite how many Palm applications users will want to run by then is open to question, so compatibility could well be a moot point. Anyone wanting to run Palm apps can easily do so on Windows Mobile using StypeTap, and very soon they'll be able to use Symbian handsets too.

It's hard to see the killer feature that's going to drive adoption of an OS which gets more out of date each time it's delayed. ®

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