Updated: More Details About Palm OS 6

At the Palm Inc Analyst day 2002 and in an interview with the Register, PalmSource has begun to loosely discuss and divulge plans for the next generation Palm OS 6. The Reg puts it well when they say that OS 6 will be as big a change for PalmSource as OS X was for Apple.

It is expected that OS 6 will possibly incorporate code and technologies acquired when Palm Inc purchased Be, Inc in August of 2001. However, the majority of work put into OS 6 will focus on new universal frameworks and programming API's for existing and upcoming technologies that will be built into the Palm OS platform. Another visible change will be improvements and tweaks to the already graceful Palm user interface (UI).

In David Nagel's presentation at the recent Palm Analyst day in New York City, he stressed that Palm OS 6 will focus on next generation communications and frameworks for new and upcoming technologies. Specifically we can expect to see scalable communications, more robust security features, a new multimedia framework, interchangeable I/O features (such as the ability to incorporate many diffent methods of data input) a new messaging framework and support for web services. Think of frameworks as a broad collection of related programming API's designed to make using the new features common across all devices and licensees.

As the display technology improves and the cost of hardware drops we can also expect to see support for higher resolution screens, much faster processors and new wireless communications.

PalmSource's Chief Competitive Officer, Mike Mace, says that we'll likely see a phased beta program with interim releases. It is speculated that OS 6 will ship to licensees sometime in mid-2003 though this is unconfirmed. Mace also said PalmSource intended the make the new OS Microsoft .NET compatible, and will likely partner with others to provide a run time for the platform.

Update: PalmSource COO, Mike Mace has made a few clarifications and provided some more answers to questions about Palm OS 6 in the comment area.

Thanks to the many who sent in the Register link!

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Coyote67 @ 10/31/2002 2:51:40 PM #
I hope this news doesn't stop people from buying os5 units.

BACK OFF! I'll make you fun size!
RE: Shennanigans
AmrMan0628 @ 10/31/2002 2:55:05 PM #
I agree, and I hope that MAYBE OS6 will only be a matter of software upgrades. Oh well, new things always come out and OS6 won't come out till another year.
RE: Shennanigans
Jawa @ 10/31/2002 2:55:32 PM #
Anybody has an idea if Palm TT should be able to get upgraded to 6.0 when it'll be out ?

RE: Shennanigans
Admin @ 10/31/2002 3:03:32 PM #
It will more than likely be at least one year before we see any OS 6 devices.
RE: Shennanigans
xynos @ 10/31/2002 3:03:39 PM #
I myself have recently purchased a T665, and so I will be holding out for a OS6.0 device, since there are a lot of teething problems with OS5.0 and applications.
RE: Shennanigans
ardee @ 10/31/2002 3:41:20 PM #
I also just bought a T665C, knowing that I would skip OS 5 and wait for OS 6. Great minds think alike? ;-)

RE: Shennanigans
EdH @ 10/31/2002 5:13:24 PM #
I can't believe Palm divulged this info when OS5 devices are just barely hitting the shelves. IMHO, this will stop quite a few purchases waiting for the summer of 2003 for the real OS to arrive.

RE: Shennanigans
somas1 @ 10/31/2002 5:20:52 PM #
"I myself have recently purchased a T665, and so I will be holding out for a OS6.0 device, since there are a lot of teething problems with OS5.0 and applications."

Yeah! OS 6 will not have any teething problems. Except we can't be sure if any pre-OS 6 software will work on handhelds running OS 6.

RE: Shennanigans
somas1 @ 10/31/2002 5:24:30 PM #
"I can't believe Palm divulged this info when OS5 devices are just barely hitting the shelves. IMHO, this will stop quite a few purchases waiting for the summer of 2003 for the real OS to arrive.

Palm released most of this info more than a year ago. Search through PIC's archives. People making handheld purchases either knew about this already and will either wait for OS 6 devices or will purchase OS 5 devices because they are useful. People who don't know about Be's team working at Palm really should stick to OS 4 or PPC.

RE: Shennanigans
sr @ 10/31/2002 5:43:29 PM #
I also see PalmOS 6 devices as at least a year away. If you haven't upgraded in a while, now is as good time as any to get OS 5 devices, since they even may be upgradeable to OS 6, and if they are not you can upgrade to OS 6 in 12 to 24 months, depending on your budgets. :)

Will OS 5 be upgradeable to OS 6? I think that chances are good with Tungsten T that it will be. It has the necessary horse power, flashable ROM (albeit a bit small, some built-in apps may have to move to RAM), and Palm's history shows that they've committed to this in the past. Sony is a different story (just looking at their history).


RE: Shennanigans
james_sorenson @ 10/31/2002 10:28:06 PM #
A year is a long time to wait in the electronics world. I'm sure the Pentium 5 with Windows XP2 will be incredible. I'm sure the Apple G5 with MacOS 11 will knock people's socks off. The 2004 model cars will have more features and better gas mileage. There is always something better up ahead. Palm is just letting us know they aren't asleep on the job.

Christmas is coming. No matter what Palm says about PalmOS 6, I'm sure many stockings will be filled with what's available now. (Pity that they'll be a couple months late with the Tungsten W!)


James Sorenson

Upgrading to OS 6
Marshall Flinkman @ 12/2/2002 12:33:04 PM #
This may have been posted elsewhere, but according to PalmSource, OS 6's system requirements will be comparable to OS 5's. So upgrading is viable.

Whether licensees will offer upgrades, though, depends; Palm SG, at least, is inheriting a good track record from Palm Inc; let's hope they maintain it.

.NET compatible

Fammy @ 10/31/2002 2:57:42 PM #
I'm surprised Palm would consider making their product compatible with the Microsoft standard. It's one thing got the desktop syncing and another for the handheld itself.

Does this mean we'll be able to run programs made for .NET (of the Compact Framework) on OS6?


RE: .NET compatible
ardee @ 10/31/2002 3:42:15 PM #
Microsoft's .NET is only one category of web services. There are others (that predate it).

RE: .NET compatible
seanhennessy @ 10/31/2002 3:57:24 PM #
Actually I'm glad OS6 will be .Net compatible. With PocketPC supporting both Java and .Net, this will be a great equalizer, and will go over well in the enterprise market. But it does look like it's adios to the zen of Palm... all good things come to an end I suppose.


RE: .NET compatible
rsc1000 @ 10/31/2002 4:19:45 PM #
>>But it does look like it's adios to the zen of Palm... all good things come to an end I suppose.

Adios to zen of Palm? OS 6 is not simply .Net for Palm - though it will (apparently) contain that as 1 feature. OS 6 will have its own API - obviously designed as an extension / improvement on the existing OS 5. When Java came into existance (years ago now)there were those that said 'it looks like it's adios for windows and mac os' - obviously that didn't happen. And the comparison is a valid one - .Net borrows it's runtime enviroment approach from java. What this means is that - in theory - Palm users will be able to tap into .Net software. But there will continue to be a preference for (and market for) Palm OS optimized code.

RE: .NET compatible
Token User @ 10/31/2002 5:00:00 PM #
Actually, .NET could help embody the Zen of Palm. Small applets that are not kitchen sink applications, have dedicated function, yet communicate between themselves to extend functionality.

Taking a ".PALM" approach could be an asset to the PPC community as well.

~ "Don't be too proud of this technological terror you've constructed." - DV ~

RE: .NET compatible
Fly-By-Night @ 11/1/2002 4:59:35 AM #
I agree with Token User (great name by the way!). OS6 sounds to be very modular; meaning that hardware manufacturers can pick and mix the APIs to suit their device -- whether it's a smartphone, PDA, sub-notebook (eg Dana), or some new kind of device. This will keep the OS small, rather than just disabling features not required (cf M$ Stinger).

Long live Zen and the art of OS maintenance!


RE: .NET compatible
r0hh @ 11/1/2002 9:40:22 AM #
I'm a .Net Developer myself and Find porting the compact framework to palm a great idea. For those of you unaware about how .net can integrate with a mobile device, it's not like using .net will completely change how development works against a palm device. The basic idea would be to use .Net's unified type system to be able to write mobile apps in any language for any available platform. They're more likely to create a PAL (Platform Abstraction Layer) for the palmos api similar to how the SSCLI/ROTOR source uses a PAL to get .Net to run on FreeBSD.

"More robust security featues"

Gekko @ 10/31/2002 5:47:17 PM #
Can someone please let me now if any additional security (ie encryption) exists in OS5 vs. OS4? I thought the whole point of OS5 was to help penetrate the corporate market - and if the same OS4 security issues still exist, isn't that a big problem?

RE: Security
Gekko @ 10/31/2002 5:59:53 PM #
mclove answered this for me in the forums:

"I just tested this with Filez and the memo data file is still plain-text, even with records set to "private".

IIRC, the reason why PalmSource talks about cryptography in OS5 is because there's now a built-in crypto library which developers can use in their own applications; Palm hasn't gone and actually added encryption to the built-in apps, they've just made it easier for developers to add crypto to theirs."

Don't buy OS5

ray00pal @ 10/31/2002 5:42:18 PM #
I suspect that Palm expect OS5 to be very disappointing. To prevent losing market share, they HAVE to talk about OS6. Why buy OS5 when OS6, and maybe OS7 are coming out?
RE: Don't buy OS5
travishill @ 10/31/2002 6:10:01 PM #
What about OS5 is disappointing?

The builtin bluetooth support? The 300 FPS+ video playback? The audio support? The hires support? Even faster PIM apps?

RE: Don't buy OS5
Gekko @ 10/31/2002 6:20:41 PM #
Well, I would have liked:

1. removal of 4k limit in memo
2. unlimited or larger clipboard buffer
3. native PIM encryption security
4. 32-64MB RAM

I will still buy a TT, but c'mon, these aren't rocket science.

RE: Don't buy OS5
orpheus @ 10/31/2002 6:23:50 PM #
I think Tungsten T (at least) will appeal to those who want higher res screens, niftier games, voice recording and at least slightly improved speed over previous models. The higher res screen alone makes me think it's a good investment.
"Slightly increased speed"
Zippy @ 10/31/2002 6:37:51 PM #
Try "major speed increase", like MAJOR.

I have one of these Tungstens and it is blazingly fast, even compared to my NR70 at 66 mhz.

RE: Don't buy OS5
mcseym @ 10/31/2002 9:35:35 PM #
Everyone to their own. For me there's no time to wait - I've been sitting on my wallet for 12 months waiting for OS5! If [maybe] OS6 is released in summer 2003, then devices [maybe] released end 2003, (similar to OS5). I'm not waiting yet another year.

Buy OS5 now, get a good two years use 2003 & 2004 then buy a second-generation OS6 device at the end of 2004. I can still enjoy the screaming fun of OS5 and have something to look forward to.



RE: Don't buy OS5
Take1 @ 11/1/2002 3:22:06 AM #
I'll wait until Sony comes out with an OS6 NX-90 or something. Even though the NX-70 has a 200 Mhz processor and the TT has 144 MHz, the NR has plenty of speed on 99% of the apps that I use. For those apps. that lag at 66 MHz (HandDBase & Kinoma) I simply use FastCPU and it's good to go.

Wonder how many programs will be incmopatible with OS6 -- or will they do some more EMU on the legacy apps.?

RE: Don't buy OS5
dsm363 @ 11/1/2002 5:11:12 AM #
I upgraded from a m500 to the Tungsten T and love it. This is a really great PDA and anyone doubting it should go take a look at it at the local Staples or something first. It does have it's drawbacks especially with 16MB RAM but with SD cards falling in price (I got a 256MB SD card for $99), it helps that part of the problem. The screen alone makes this a worth while upgrade from the black and white Palm world.

RE: Don't buy OS5
thinkpanda @ 11/1/2002 12:34:19 PM #
The target audience of Palm OS 6 stuffs is analysts, financial/investment analysts, not Palm users like you and me. Palm(source) must keep taking about the rosy roadmap to keep the interest of analysts so they will recommend people to buy Palm's shares.

I don't think these talks have anything to do with the status of Palm OS 5, which is just too early to say.

RE: Don't buy OS5
bigfoot @ 11/1/2002 5:13:51 PM #
Since I just got my trusty M505 back from STNE with 16 meg of RAM, I'll pass on all of the OS5 devices and wait out Palmsource and Palm and see what OS6 will have to offer and what hardware will go with it.


RE: OS5 diappointing (Was: Don't buy OS5)
goofrider @ 11/27/2002 3:35:30 AM #

What about OS5 is disappointing?

The builtin bluetooth support? The 300 FPS+ video playback? The audio support? The hires support? Even faster PIM apps?

Those are all features of the TT hardware, not OS5 itself.

In fact, OS 5 is very disappointing. It's not more than an ARM port of OS 4.x, san traps for hacks. Even the NotePad stil has the same 4k limitation.

I haven't check the OS5 SDK yet, but I can safely assume that OS5 is a straight port of OS4.x, designed to run 68k apps only (with emulation, of course).

This is actually a good thing I think. If software today ships in both native ARM binaries and classic 68k binaries, it'd probably create a lot of confusion among the average users.

The TT is still a great piece of hardware. Hope it'll be upgradable to OS6 (and I think it will).

As nbig a change as OS X?

palmmongrel @ 10/31/2002 5:46:23 PM #
In other words, a huge pain-in-the-arse fo all parties involved, at least two revisions of buggy "finals," and loss of compatibility with just about everything you own.

Sorry... Mac user, still having some issues....

RE: As nbig a change as OS X?
Mandroid @ 11/1/2002 10:21:11 AM #
I think this is a bit overly negative, I'm personally really happy with OS X right now. Granted, 10.0 wasn't perfect by any means, and even 10.1 and 10.2 had some issues, but overall I've found the current release to be fantastic. I was also a NeXTStep user for a while, and had been using the classic Mac OS since a 512ke in 1986....but I love where the Mac is with OS X right now, and I think it is great if Palm OS 6 will be similar.

You may be having some problems, many people still have complaints which are being worked on, but OS X has helped the platform a lot, especially in terms of adoption among people who would never consider it before. I'd expect a potentially similar adoption rate for OS 6 devices from people who wouldn't consider Palm OS before.


Flash ROM

TypeMRT @ 10/31/2002 8:07:32 PM #
Hopefully someone at Palm will realize that Flash ROM is a good thing, and that 4 MB should be enough for OS 6. I'd say that it's reasonable for end-users to pay for the upgrade. I'd pay $20-30 in 18 months, if it meant greater security and enhanced functionality. Hint to Palm: learn from Sony's mistake last summer with the n710 "upgrade" and don't piss off too many customers (my Clie went back). That assumes an OS 6 upgrade will even be possible and available for the new OS 5 devices...

Upgrade 5 to 6? Meh. Who cares at this point.

Qube @ 10/31/2002 10:45:26 PM #
All this talk about upgrade this and can you upgrade that...

If this mirrored the Windoze world a bit more, then I'd agree. Even so, many are happy to run Windows 98SE than three generations up... Windows XP. Otherwise, there really isn't much concern over if you could upgrade 5 to 6. It's all but reserved to the 'geeks' (like me) that would care. The average joe wouldn't give a damn whether it could be upgraded. Then again, the average joe would have bought a Zire hehe :)

RE: Upgrade 5 to 6? Meh. Who cares at this point.
SwissFreek @ 11/7/2002 10:42:21 PM #
I agree. I think that all this concern about whether or not OS6 will be compatible with OS5 devices is a little premature. Remember that this OS isn't going to come out until about a year from now (if as with OS5 the software goes to licensees in summer and into devices in November). In May I bought a m515. I loved it. I knew that OS5 was in the works, but as now (just ordered a Tungsten), I will satisfy my need for a palm device now, THEN when OS6 comes out I will deliberate whether an upgrade is worthwhile. If it really does take a year for OS6 to come out, in all likelihood there will be a bigger badder Palm (can you say transflective display?) by then anyway that I will be willing to buy (as happened between when I got my Visor Prism and m515), so why should I get all bent out of shape now about what might come out in the future? If OS6 isn't worth it, I won't get it.

PalmOS 5 upgradable to PalmOS 6

stefanros @ 11/1/2002 2:25:58 AM #
Maybe a stupid questions, but anyway. If I buy the new cool Tungsten T, will I be able to upgrade to PalmOS 6?

RE: PalmOS 5 upgradable to PalmOS 6
Jedi @ 11/1/2002 9:54:10 AM #
The short answer is that nobody knows. The long answer is that Palm OS 6 isn't a finished product yet, so there is no way to tell if it is going to be compatible with the hardware of the Tungsten T or not. And even the hardware is compatible, there is no guarantee that Palm will make an upgrade available. Granted, Palm historically has offered upgrades to owners of compatible handhelds at a reasonable price, but they may not offer a upgrade to OS6 for whatever reason.

Now if the ability to upgrade to the future OS 6 is going to be a make or break issue for you on whether to buy the Tungsten T or not, Iíd say donít get it. You may end up being disappointed.

Me, Iím getting one regardless. If they offer a upgrade, it will be a happy surprise, and if they donít I wonít be disappointed.

RE: PalmOS 5 upgradable to PalmOS 6
ardee @ 11/1/2002 10:17:42 AM #
It's not a stupid question. It's a critical question for many. I don't think Palm has said for sure one way or the other.

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