MobileInfocenter

End of the Line for the Fossil Wrist PDA

Fossil has removed the Palm OS Wrist PDA from their website. It now seems that the company has ended all development of the Wrist PDA and will no longer be selling new models.

Fossil Abacus Wrist PDA with Palm OSFossil first licensed the Palm OS in November 2002. At the time, Fossil debuted the PDA Wristwatch at the last COMDEX show and was named "Best of COMDEX" in the mobile devices category. The device then suffered about 2 years of delays and finally reached the market in January 2005.

The Wrist PDA was initially available in two different brands, Fossil and Abacus and was priced at $249 and $199. By August, the Abacus version was on sale online for $80. Now they are only available while supplies last from TigerDirect for $49.

The Wrist PDA features include:

  • Palm OS version 4.1
  • 8 MB of memory (approx. 7.7 MB available to the user)
  • 160 x 160 pixel LCD with backlight
  • Touch screen input
  • 3-way Rocker and Back button for one-handed navigation
  • Customizable watch faces
  • USB interface supports Windows and Mac
  • IRDA infrared communication port
  • Lithium-ion rechargeable battery (lasts approximately three to four days between charges)

The Abacus branded Wrist PDA has all the same features at the Fossil FX2008, but with a slightly different design and wristband.

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For the heck of it...

sford @ 2/10/2006 2:55:39 PM # Q
Man, for fifty bucks, it might just be worth it just to have one.

____________________________________
Pilot Pro -> III -> IIIe -> Nino (yeah...oops!) -> IIIc -> VIIx -> m505 -> NR70V -> NZ90 -> NX60 -> T3 -> Zire 72s

Wish List: www.PalmKB.com/wish.html

RE: For the heck of it...
MegaManXcalibur @ 2/11/2006 2:01:26 AM # Q
It is. I actually wear quite a lot (which is cool since when I bought it I was only getting it for novelty since it was only around $50.00 at the time) and I have to say having your date book, contacts, and tasks all in your wrist watch is actually a lot more useful then I at first thought. It was certainly a neat gizmo if nothing else.

Bike Or Die on a Fossil watch anyone? :D
ackmondual @ 2/16/2006 12:21:51 AM # Q
I hear it's soo different and fun, it's practically another different game right there. $50 is a hell lot easier to swallow than $250.

"Do you know the difference between an error and a mistake? Anyone can make an error, but that error doesn't become a mistake until you refuse to correct it."
-Grand Admiral Thrawn

the secret to enjoying your job is to have a hobby that's even worse

My PDAs: Visor --> Visor Neo (blue) --> Zire 71 --> Tungsten T3 (with 4 of 6 screws still remaining) ~?~> zodiac 2?

Reply to this comment

$33 bucks on Amazon right now...

gfunkmagic @ 2/10/2006 3:00:46 PM # Q
http://tinyurl.com/7aa9j

--------------------
Gaurav

Current devices: Treo 650 + Axim X50v
Device graveyard: Palm Vx, Cassiopeia E100, LG Phenom HPC, Palm M515, Treo 300, Treo 600

Moderator, Treocentral

RE: $33 bucks on Amazon right now...
cervezas @ 2/10/2006 3:50:26 PM # Q
Already gone at that price.

Such a shame about Fossil. Mike Mace offered some interesting insider insight into this and mentioned that Fossil killed some "achingly great" products that in his opinion would have sold much better than these first attempts at Palm OS watches: http://mobileopportunity.blogspot.com/2005/11/look-whats-number-one.html

For some time I've been thinking I might pick one of these up, remove the band, and use it like a pocket watch, which I used to carry regularly anyway. I think part of what has kept basic PDAs from getting a better market is that they're still too big to be attractive for a lot of folks. Fossil pioneered a really tiny PDA, just not quite small enough for a normal human wristwatch. I'm hoping someone picks up on the new flexible display technologies that are so thin and use so little power to make a credit-card sized PDA that you can keep in your wallet. I believe they'd sell very well.

David Beers
Pikesoft Mobile Computing
Software Everywhere blog
www.pikesoft.com/blog

RE: $33 bucks on Amazon right now...
Admin @ 2/10/2006 4:29:36 PM # Q
Thanks for that tip G. I picked one up for $32 for my PDA museum. It seems they do restock them at that price on amazon every now and then, so they might be back at some point.
RE: $33 bucks on Amazon right now...
hkklife @ 2/10/2006 4:35:15 PM # Q
Somehow I can envision Beersie as the pocket watch-carrying type ;-)

In all seriousness, remember Mike Cane's idea of the REX-style ultra-thin credit card sized monochrome Palm?
Really, something like 16mb RAM, OS 4.1 and a 66mhz Dragonball are plenty for basic PIM & E-book tasks *IF* it can be produced & sold cheaply/profitably enough. I'd love to see relatively humble specs & OS mated to a cutting edge flexible/rollable display or to an ultra-thin PDA. That'd be something for emerging markets as well.

Barring that, I STILL say that Palm should resurrect the sleek Visor Edge formfactor, fix the godawful stylus on it, and shoehorn TX level features into something that'd be sold as high-margin, limited run, "end of an era" type commemorative thing...the RAZR of PDAs if you will...or would that be too rich for Palm's miserly tastes right now? Heck it wouldn't be as outlandish as the 20th Anniversary Macintosh was! ;-) (Still the greatest guilty pleasure in computing history!)


Pilot 1000-->Pilot 5000-->PalmPilot Pro-->IIIe-->Vx-->m505-->T|T-->T|T2-->T|C-->T|T3-->T|T5-->TX

RE: $33 bucks on Amazon right now...
cervezas @ 2/10/2006 4:59:51 PM # Q
Somehow I can envision Beersie as the pocket watch-carrying type ;-)

Next you're going to have me smoking a pipe and sipping Cognac. Got to thinking about why I stopped carrying the pocket watch and then I realized it happened after college when I couldn't wear jeans to work anymore. One of the strange ironies of fashion is that the only pants that have watch pockets any more are bluejeans.

In all seriousness, remember Mike Cane's idea of the REX-style ultra-thin credit card sized monochrome Palm?

That's the ticket.

Barring that, I STILL say that Palm should resurrect the sleek Visor Edge formfactor, fix the godawful stylus on it, and shoehorn TX level features into something that'd be sold as high-margin, limited run, "end of an era" type commemorative thing...

I'm with you on that one. Wouldn't even need the TX features, as far as I'm concerned. E2 features would do it if it meant they could get it into that lovely wafer thin metal enclosure.


David Beers
Pikesoft Mobile Computing
Software Everywhere blog
www.pikesoft.com/blog

RE: $33 bucks on Amazon right now...
Kesh @ 2/10/2006 7:00:19 PM # Q
That would be incredible. The Visor Edge was a fantastic design, and I'd love to see a modern equivalent.

RE: $33 bucks on Amazon right now...
twrock @ 2/10/2006 8:51:55 PM # Q
...remember Mike Cane's idea of the REX-style ultra-thin credit card sized monochrome Palm?

Yep, and its "cousin" is for sale! I didn't play with it, but a PCMCIA card with a monochrome touch screen, simple PIM functions and even Chinese character handwriting recognition is for sale in local stores. Next time I'm downtown I intend to have a closer look, although it won't be something I would buy.

It might not be the "mythical color HandEra", but I'm liking my TX anyway.

Reply to this comment

Another PalmSource licensee bites the dust...

The_Voice_of_Reason @ 2/10/2006 3:27:32 PM # Q
Another one bites the dust
Another one bites the dust
And another one gone, and another one gone
Another one bites the dust
Hey, Iím gonna get you too
Another one bites the dust



------------------------
Sony CLIE UX100: 128 MB real RAM, OLED screen. All the PDA anyone really ever wanted.
------------------------

The Palm eCONomy = Communismô

The Great Palm Swindle: http://www.palminfocenter.com/comment_view.asp?ID=7864#108038

NetFrontLinux - the next major cellphone OS?: http://www.palminfocenter.com/comment_view.asp?ID=8060#111823

RE: Another PalmSource licensee bites the dust...
Foo Fighter @ 2/10/2006 3:44:15 PM # Q
"Gone" is a matter of perspective. I'd argue they never "here" to begin with. Fossil (aptly named for a product running a dinosaur OS) is little more than a boutique vendor, selling to a niche within a niche market. In this case i don't see Fossil's departure as a harbinger of things to come due to it's already irrelevant relationship to the Palm economy. Well, that is to say...it can't be a harbinger of things YET to come because they've ALREADY happened. The Palm economy is gone; dead and buried. There is one last remaining vendor still hocking Garnet wares, and even they are embracing other platforms.

The real question is who else has already left without saying goodbye. Samsung, I'm looking in your direction.

-------------------------------
Editor, http://Pocketfactory.com
Contributing Editor, http://digitalmediathoughts.com

RE: Another PalmSource licensee bites the dust...
Foo Fighter @ 2/10/2006 3:54:37 PM # Q
What's really ammusing is that PalmSource continues to proudly list licensees and devices that are long gone. Either PS updates its website once every 2-3 years, or they are hoping we're all two stupid to notice that 95% of the licensees/products are themselves fossils.

Speaking of Fossil; wouldn't that make an appropriate name for Palm OS Garnet, in light of the fact Access must drop the Palm name from its OS? FrankenFossil. I like that...it has a certain je ne sais quoi.

-------------------------------
Editor, http://Pocketfactory.com
Contributing Editor, http://digitalmediathoughts.com

RE: Another PalmSource licensee bites the dust...
hkklife @ 2/10/2006 4:53:09 PM # Q
TECHNICALLY Garmin is still in the game...sorta. They've announced as more new Garnet-powered devices so far this year than Palm has so that's gotta account for something, right? Right? So Garmin will go down in ANnALs of Palmdom history as the penultimate licensee shipping new handhelds running POS.

So Garmin hangs on with one "new" model and a soon-to-be-liquidated warehouse of old iQues. Symbol, AlphaSmart, and Aceeca, and GSPda may or may not still be producing/shipping existing models but haven't announced anything new in ages. Everyone else is either vapor or long since out of the game.



Pilot 1000-->Pilot 5000-->PalmPilot Pro-->IIIe-->Vx-->m505-->T|T-->T|T2-->T|C-->T|T3-->T|T5-->TX

RE: Another PalmSource licensee bites the dust...
The_Voice_of_Reason @ 2/10/2006 10:14:41 PM # Q
Symbol, AlphaSmart, and Aceeca, and GSPda may or may not still be producing/shipping existing models but haven't announced anything new in ages. Everyone else is either vapor or long since out of the game.


AlphaSmart is also toast. The were sold off last year.

Aceeca probably sells less than 5,000 units/quarter.


The Palm eCONomy was all a scam.

------------------------
Sony CLIE UX100: 128 MB real RAM, OLED screen. All the PDA anyone really ever wanted.
------------------------

The Palm eCONomy = Communismô

The Great Palm Swindle: http://www.palminfocenter.com/comment_view.asp?ID=7864#108038

NetFrontLinux - the next major cellphone OS?: http://www.palminfocenter.com/comment_view.asp?ID=8060#111823

RE: Another PalmSource licensee bites the dust...
Dr Opinion @ 2/11/2006 7:09:07 PM # Q
> "...The Palm eCONomy was all a scam..."

If you buy high, then sell low, it's not that "it" was a "scam", it's that "you", are a "dick wad". :)

Hope this helps! :)

------
"People who like M$ products tend to be insecure crowd-following newbies lacking in experience and imagination."

Reply to this comment

The concept of watches is obsolete anyway...

gfunkmagic @ 2/10/2006 3:45:11 PM # Q
If a person is going to spend money on a device like this, wouldn't they probably already carry a cellphone as well which can already tell time? Almost no one I know wears a watch anymore b/c they can simply look at their mobile to find the time or lookup a contact or etc. The only real reason to wear a watch these days is for fashion or bling and the Fossil watches did neither well...

--------------------
Gaurav

Current devices: Treo 650 + Axim X50v
Device graveyard: Palm Vx, Cassiopeia E100, LG Phenom HPC, Palm M515, Treo 300, Treo 600

Moderator, Treocentral

RE: The concept of watches is obsolete anyway...
legodude522 @ 2/10/2006 4:30:01 PM # Q
I don't wear a watch. I got my Palm when I need it.

Palm m125 December 25, 2002 to March 24 2004 > palmOne Zire 71 March 24, 2004 to March 31, 2005. Tapwave Zodiac 1 April 18, 2005 to November 2, 2005 > palmOne Zire 72 November 2, 2005 to present
RE: The concept of watches is obsolete anyway...
cervezas @ 2/10/2006 4:45:00 PM # Q
Heh, sad to say, Windows XP is my watch about 80% of my waking hours. And lately it's my phone most of the time, too. I just realized after posting about how mobile devices need to get smaller I spend more of my time than ever carrying and/or using a 4 lb laptop.

Like I said before, I really don't think the device makers are even close to having this mobile device thing figured out. I'm not sure I have the answer, I just know that nothing's quite working out for me the way it should.

David Beers
Pikesoft Mobile Computing
Software Everywhere blog
www.pikesoft.com/blog

RE: The concept of watches is obsolete anyway...
hkklife @ 2/10/2006 4:59:36 PM # Q
Right on, David. XP is MY clock of choice and it's ALWAYS showing the correct time. After that is my cell phone (always always right) and then there's my Palm, my car's dashboard clock or my bedside radio-controlled alarm clock. My seldom-worn wristwatches just sit in a drawer, worn only for travel or social events.

I REALLY wish Palm would introduce the m100-style "push up on the d-pad when the Palm is off to briefly show the clock onscreen".

You know, I still see a fair number of schoolteachers/aged geeks/nerdy teenagers wearing those Casio Databank watches. You remember those things with the micro membrane keyboards and like 4k of RAM. If that audience didn't embrace the Fossil Wrist PDA then NO ONE would.

Pilot 1000-->Pilot 5000-->PalmPilot Pro-->IIIe-->Vx-->m505-->T|T-->T|T2-->T|C-->T|T3-->T|T5-->TX

RE: The concept of watches is obsolete anyway...
cervezas @ 2/10/2006 5:14:23 PM # Q
...Casio Databank watches. You remember those things with the micro membrane keyboards and like 4k of RAM.

Are those the funkadelic ones that synched with the PC through this Windows software that put these flashing bars on the monitor screen?

David Beers
Pikesoft Mobile Computing
Software Everywhere blog
www.pikesoft.com/blog

RE: The concept of watches is obsolete anyway...
hkklife @ 2/10/2006 5:35:23 PM # Q
No the Databanks just had ~4k of volatile memory....you took the watch to Service Merchandise to get a new battery in it and-ZAP!-you had to rekey all of your phone #'s into it.

The ones that synched via strobing CRT patterns were actually Timex DataLinks watches. They actually managed to hang around until 1997/1998 or so, a relative eternity in the mobile tech world. They looked like the iconic Timex Ironman watch but pudgier and less sporty.



Pilot 1000-->Pilot 5000-->PalmPilot Pro-->IIIe-->Vx-->m505-->T|T-->T|T2-->T|C-->T|T3-->T|T5-->TX

RE: The concept of watches is obsolete anyway...
gfunkmagic @ 2/10/2006 7:04:57 PM # Q
>>>>I REALLY wish Palm would introduce the m100-style "push up on the d-pad when the Palm is off to briefly show the clock onscreen".

You can do that on the Treo with Keyguardtime:

http://mytreo.net/downloads/details-640.html?KeyguardTime%2B

--------------------
Gaurav

Current devices: Treo 650 + Axim X50v
Device graveyard: Palm Vx, Cassiopeia E100, LG Phenom HPC, Palm M515, Treo 300, Treo 600

Moderator, Treocentral

RE: The concept of watches is obsolete anyway...
ChiA @ 2/10/2006 8:37:00 PM # Q
Gaurav said
Almost no one I know wears a watch

I'm sorry but either:
a. you know almost no one
b. you spend a lot of time in front of computer screens or with people in front of computer screens
c. Knowing the correct time isn't important to your job or life

The watch is far from obsolete:
- you can see the time with a quick flick of the wrist; you have to funble a Pda or phone out of your pocket and then possibly switch it on or to the correct screen
- battery life is measured in years rather than in hours or days. If you're wealthy enough you can even buy a Swiss watch which doesn't need a battery!
- My $50 Timex has an accuracy drift of about one or two seconds per year. Compare to a $300 Palm which drifts about one or two seconds a day. Yes, network time servers keep the computers etc accurate but what happens when you don't have a connection?
- the watch can be far more discrete, especially the luminous dials in the dark. Just picture the green berets out on a covert night mission, deep in enemy territory switching on their mobiles to see what time to strike!

- the question is, are there more watches than phones in the world today? Let's face it, the watch manufacturers aren't going out of business.
The watch is far from obsolete.

"It is commonly said, and more particularly by Lord Shaftesbury, that ridicule is the best test of truth".
Lord Chesterfield

RE: The concept of watches is obsolete anyway...
Gekko @ 2/10/2006 10:15:39 PM # Q

only a true nerd would wear this. maybe good for someone who works a help desk, works at compusa, or lives in CO???

anyway, why put this piece of junk on your wrist one your smartphone can do it all?



RE: The concept of watches is obsolete anyway...
PenguinPowered @ 2/10/2006 11:54:48 PM # Q
You've got a smartphone that fits on your wrist? cool.


May You Live in Interesting Times

RE: The concept of watches is obsolete anyway...
ChiA @ 2/11/2006 12:12:56 AM # Q
You've got a smartphone that fits on your wrist? cool.

Yea, well so did Dick Tracy, long before the word smartphone was even coined!

RE: The concept of watches is obsolete anyway...
naio21 @ 2/11/2006 12:29:51 AM # Q
Cervezas uses WinXP? And 80% of the time???

I'll be damned! :-O

Naio

RE: The concept of watches is obsolete anyway...
The_Voice_of_Reason @ 2/11/2006 12:42:04 AM # Q
Cervezas uses WinXP? And 80% of the time???

I'll bet Beersy's kids will turn out to look a LOT like the mailman.

------------------------
Sony CLIE UX100: 128 MB real RAM, OLED screen. All the PDA anyone really ever wanted.
------------------------

The Palm eCONomy = Communismô

The Great Palm Swindle: http://www.palminfocenter.com/comment_view.asp?ID=7864#108038

NetFrontLinux - the next major cellphone OS?: http://www.palminfocenter.com/comment_view.asp?ID=8060#111823

RE: The concept of watches is obsolete anyway...
naio21 @ 2/11/2006 1:04:25 AM # Q
"I'll bet Beersy's kids will turn out to look a LOT like the mailman."

Ipso facto I was surprised with his "working" OS choice. He seemed to be like a real MSBasher...

Naio

Beersy/the mailman's kiddies
The_Voice_of_Reason @ 2/11/2006 1:08:17 AM # Q
[I understood what you were getting at but I just couldn't resist!]

Beersy develops apps for mobile devices. The best (and largest variety of) development tools are for Windows. As much as Beersy smells like a granola-crunching, tree-hugging, shower-avoiding, hybrid-driving, hippie-aping Apple Cultist, he'd be at a distinct disadvantage if he tried to use MacOS.

------------------------
Sony CLIE UX100: 128 MB real RAM, OLED screen. All the PDA anyone really ever wanted.
------------------------

The Palm eCONomy = Communismô

The Great Palm Swindle: http://www.palminfocenter.com/comment_view.asp?ID=7864#108038

NetFrontLinux - the next major cellphone OS?: http://www.palminfocenter.com/comment_view.asp?ID=8060#111823

RE: The concept of watches is obsolete anyway...
naio21 @ 2/11/2006 1:35:24 AM # Q
Uahuahuahuahauhauhah!

Being a multi-platform developer with one single-beloved OS must not be easy... :-)

Ivan

RE: The concept of watches is obsolete anyway...
cervezas @ 2/11/2006 10:32:29 AM # Q
Them's fightin' words, TVoR. Like all the rest of my giant watch-wearing Red State compadres, I don't drive no hybrid. We drive Subarus.

But seriously, and for the record, I'm not an anti-Microsoft bigot. And yes, Windows does give you the widest range of options for targeting various mobile platforms as I do.

Now, if you don't mind, I've got other things to do. Saturday's my bath day.

David Beers
Pikesoft Mobile Computing
Software Everywhere blog
www.pikesoft.com/blog

RE: The concept of watches is obsolete anyway...
Foo Fighter @ 2/11/2006 1:07:43 PM # Q
Pulllleeeeeze! Microsoft bashing is so 1999. People bash Windows in order to look more savvy and sophisticated than all the other Windows-using lemmings. This behavior had its charm when it first began a few years ago. Today it just makes you look like a newbie. It has become "politically correct" to attack the dinosaur in Redmond. Zealots believe they actually look more intelligent if they attack Microsoft and its products at every opportunity, especially in online forums. Whenever I read a comment posted by some slack jawed dork using words like Winblows, Micro$oft, Microsloth, et al., I don't even bother reading the content of their post because it's usually coming from a Linux/Open Source fanatic suffering insecurity issues. Here's a little therapeutic tip: If you feel the only way your platform of choice can succeed is by constantly bashing the "other" platform in an endless campaign of slander and fear mongering, then perhaps there is something wrong with your platform? After all, I don't need to trash talk Pepsi or its consumers in order to enjoy my Coke, do I?

At the risk of sounding like an elitist snob, those of us who really are technically skilled, having worked with various platforms for many years, are platform agnostic. We don't hold religious devotion to any one operating system. Oh sure, we may have our preferences, but only just. Operating systems are merely the canvas upon which art is created. Applications are the tools which play a far more important role. It is the USER that is the artist, not the OS.

-------------------------------
Editor, http://Pocketfactory.com
Contributing Editor, http://digitalmediathoughts.com

RE: The concept of watches is obsolete anyway...
PenguinPowered @ 2/11/2006 2:36:41 PM # Q
You go ahead and be agnostic, but as someone who has been bashing M$ since 1979, I'll stick with being platform antagonistic. They all suck in one way or another, and the reason why they're still sucking lo these many years later is that for all their whining, users put up with the suckage.

If we'd held the industry to higher standards back in the day, finding things to whine about platform mumble wouldn't be like shooting fish in a barrel now.

and yes, just for the record, linux sucks. it's a bad imitation of a 22 year old operating system.

May You Live in Interesting Times

Yeah, Pepsi SUCKS!
The_Voice_of_Reason @ 2/11/2006 7:34:58 PM # Q
After all, I don't need to trash talk Pepsi or its consumers in order to enjoy my Coke, do I?

Pepsi sucks.

And anyone who drinks Pepsi sucks.

If we'd held the industry to higher standards back in the day, finding things to whine about platform mumble wouldn't be like shooting fish in a barrel now.

And PalmOS sucks too.

So does Windows Mobile.

And Symbian.

And Linux.

Windows XP as well.

And not to forget, the suctastic MacOS.

Amiga sucked, EPOC sucked, Atari sucked, Commodore Vic 20/64 sucked, Coleco Adam sucked, DOS sucked.



------------------------
Sony CLIE UX100: 128 MB real RAM, OLED screen. All the PDA anyone really ever wanted.
------------------------

The Palm eCONomy = Communismô

The Great Palm Swindle: http://www.palminfocenter.com/comment_view.asp?ID=7864#108038

NetFrontLinux - the next major cellphone OS?: http://www.palminfocenter.com/comment_view.asp?ID=8060#111823

!
Foo Fighter @ 2/11/2006 9:27:24 PM # Q
> Yeah, Pepsi SUCKS!

Bastard! Vile seething dog of the cola wars! My Coke can kick your gay blue Pepsi ass any day! And your OS sucks too! In fact....every OS sucks! http://www.deadtroll.com/video/ossuckscable.html

-------------------------------
Editor, http://Pocketfactory.com
Contributing Editor, http://digitalmediathoughts.com

RE: The concept of watches is obsolete anyway...
AdamaDBrown @ 2/12/2006 12:40:59 AM # Q
Actually, I've heard that despite their fuel economy, the premium price of those hybrids and their requirement for expensive replacement batteries every 7 years or so makes them no more economical in the long term than a standard non-hybrid car.

Foo, I'm getting the feeling you don't have a lot of respect for open source programs. While I agree that a lot of them are badly designed, half-finished usability nightmares (see Linux, XMLTV, dozens of others) there are some open source projects which have developed quite nicely: Mozilla, FreeCraft, others. Yeah, the "movement" produces a lot of idiots and bad software, but there's a definite upside for it.

RE: The concept of watches
SeldomVisitor @ 2/12/2006 7:52:46 AM # Q
> ...Amiga sucked...

WAITAMINUTE!

Them's fightin' words!

RE: The concept of watches is obsolete anyway...
Foo Fighter @ 2/12/2006 9:22:41 AM # Q
> "Foo, I'm getting the feeling you don't have a lot of respect for open source programs. While I agree that a lot of them are badly designed, half-finished usability nightmares (see Linux, XMLTV, dozens of others) there are some open source projects which have developed quite nicely: Mozilla, FreeCraft, others."

I'm not implying that all open source projects are bad, but in general that has been the trend. Firefox and Thunderbird are good examples of Open Source done right, however it's important to keep in mind those applications originated as COMMERCIAL software designed by highly skilled (PAID) developers who understand software design, and usability. In cases where commercial software BECOMES open source, the development model works well. Another example is a server-side open source Content Management System (CMS) that I use quite often when designing websites for clients, called Mambo. This software too originated as a commercial software developed by an Australian company named Miro. Mambo is fantastic, though not without its flaws. And now a recent spat within the Mambo community resulted in secession of a large portion of the community who then created a new branch called Joomla. It's like the bloody civil war in the mambo forums now. One need only mention certain topics, and the battle of BullSh1t Run begins.

As I said, in cases where commercial software goes open source, the model works. In cases where software begins purely as open source, designed entirely by amateurs, the results are badly designed software. Open source advocates constantly extol the fact their software is free! That's not an endorsement...it's an indictment. Open source software is free because no one would pay for it. It's usually not commercial quality software. Just look at Linux. While I love it for its virtues as a server platform, and use it quite often for that purpose, it is absolutely worthless as a desktop client platform. The interface is a poorly designed Windows-clone, inconsistency abounds throughout the GUI. My greatest criticism is that I don't see Linux (desktop) as an innovative operating system. It current GUI lags FAR behind it's commercial cousins; namely OSX and Vista. Even XP outshines it in terms of ease of use and software availability. I've followed the development of this OS since the late nineties, and each time I install in on my machines, I end up removing it from my Hard drive soon after. The usual argument I an others get from GPL zealots, in lodging these criticisms against KDE and Gnome, is that I'm a Windows drone afraid of learning something new. Sorry, that dog won't hunt. Just the opposite is true in my case; I'm always first in line to try new technology. A few years ago I migrated from Windows to the then "new" OSX as my primary home desktop. Quality and innovative design are what interests me, and Linux has neither.

Linux still cannot install reliably or consistently across various hardware configurations. I was recently reminded of this when I attempted to install Ubuntu on one of my old Pentium 4 systems, which failed to take not once, not twice, but thrice! I gave up a burned a copy of OpenSuse 10.0 which installed flawlessly. But the end results are always the same; Linux continues to improve in tiny baby steps with each passing year, but not enough to challenge commercial operating systems as a serious desktop.

That said, watch out for Novell. They are pumping serious R&D into their distribution. And for the first time we're starting to see some real innovation that could result in a Linux desktop that is every bit as good as OSX or Vista. Novell recently unveiled its work with XGL, a hardware accelerated desktop based on the next iteration of OpenGL. This allows Linux to perform all the fancy eye-candy feats that OSX and Vista are doing, such as animated windows and transparency effects. Here are some mockups of Novell's desktop concepts...

http://www.flickr.com/photos/gamehack/sets/1506658/

And some rather interesting videos of Novell's new XGL desktop. Very cool stuff...

http://www.novell.com/linux/xglrelease/

Of course, all this illustrates my point that open source does best when it either originates as, or is co-developed with commercial support.

Mark my words...Novell is going to put desktop Linux on the map...FINALLY!

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Editor, http://Pocketfactory.com
Contributing Editor, http://digitalmediathoughts.com

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