OS 4.0 Upgrade Coming Soon to A Palm Near You
In late Spring, Palm Inc. began shipping the first handhelds with OS 4.0, the m500 series. Since then, many users have asked when an upgrade would be available for older models. This is not a simple question. Each manufacturer has to create a separate version that works for its own handhelds. The fact that the manufacturers have added important new features to their models and their models only makes this process even more complicated. Then these versions need to be tested and approved by Palm Inc. before they can be released.
David Yang, a Sony spokesperson, has confirmed that an upgrade to OS 4.0 for the PEG-N710C is being developed and this will allow the device to display 16-bit color. However, Mr. Yang isn't able to say when the upgrade will be released or whether the company will be charging for it.
Sony has announced that its newest models, the N610C and S320, will ship with OS 4.0 preinstalled. These might be released as early as the end of this month.
Palm will be releasing an OS 4.0 upgrade for many current models in November. It will work with the III, IIIx, IIIxe, IIIc, V, and Vx. Why the VII series isn't included on this list isn't known. Palm has confirmed that they will be charging for this upgrade but haven't yet decided how much. While most previous upgrades were free, Palm is charging $20 for the OS 3.5 upgrade.
HandEra has Palm OS 4.1 for the 330 in beta testing right now. Before it can be released, it also needs to go through the third party testing. Once this is complete, it will be released as a free upgrade. According to a company representative, they don't know exactly when that will be but it will be available as soon as it gets approval from Palm.
An OS upgrade for the TRGpro is a different issue. The company is still considering whether to create one. There would be considerable costs involved in putting this upgrade through the Palm third party testing and HandEra hasn't decided what it is going to do.
Palm OS 4.0 doesn't have a tremendous number of new features to offer older handhelds. It's primary enhancement is VFS support for the expansion slot. Both the various Clié models and the HandEra 330 already have VFS support and the rest of the models have no expansion slots that would make use of it.
It has support for 65,000 colors, which is mostly important for the N710C. No other model has the hardware to display this many colors and doesn't already. OS 4.0 also adds USB support but only models with USB cradles need this and they already have it implemented in their current OS versions.
It also includes the Attention Manager, which allows users to view and clear multiple alarms with a single tap, and some improved security features. These are the only enhansements that older Palms can make use of.
Visors don't use flash memory so they can't be upgraded to OS 4.0 but, according to Brian Jaquet, a company spokesperson, Handspring is comfortable with the features offered by their version of OS 3.5. This already includes USB support and 16-bit color and, in fact, Handspring gave this technology to Palm for OS 4.0. And all models of the Visor have had expansion capabilities since the beginning. However, the company is planning on including OS 4.0 in future models when they feel it is appropriate.
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