Palm to preview beta version of OS 5

By Douglas F. Gray, IDG News Service |  Operating Systems

Palm Inc. is set to release a beta version of its forthcoming operating system, the first that will run on chips designed by ARM Ltd., at Tuesday's opening of the PalmSource Conference & Expo in San Jose, California.

David Nagel, president and chief executive officer of Palm's operating system subsidiary, will preview the new software, called Palm OS 5, in his speech at the start of the show, he told reporters in a telephone briefing Monday. The software subsidiary will also get a new moniker: PalmSource Inc.

Palm expects to deliver the final version of Palm OS 5 to its hardware partners in June or July, Steve Sakoman, chief product officer of the subsidiary, said during the briefing.

The OS will run most of the applications written for current versions of the operating system, and will add new security, communications and multimedia functions, he said. "Developers can continue to use the same tools they have been using and provide a single application that works on the installed base (of Palm devices) and the new ones," he said.

For corporate users, Palm OS 5 adds support for 802.11b wireless connections, 128-bit data encryption and Secure Socket Layer (SSL) support for wireless Internet access. Users looking for improved multimedia capabilities will get higher-quality audio playback and a sharper screen resolution of 320 pixels by 320 pixels, more than double the resolution on current Palm devices, PalmSource officials said.

The company managed to add these improvements without compromising battery life or increasing the amount of memory occupied by the operating system, Sakoman said.

Nagel will demonstrate the operating system running on ARM chips from Texas Instruments Inc., Motorola Inc. and Intel Corp., he said. The chips are based on a core designed by ARM, of Cambridge, England. The company doesn't make the chips itself, but licenses its designs to chip makers.

Developers at the show will be able to test applications they have written on devices running Palm OS 5, the company said. They will also receive a CD with the beta software on it, along with application tools and 20 compatible applications. Additionally, PalmSource will let members of its developers' program download related tools from its Web site. Those tools include an OS 5 simulator running on Microsoft Corp.'s Windows NT and third-party tools for testing the compatibility of applications with the operating system.

PalmSource runs from Tuesday through Friday in San Jose. More information can be found at http://www.palmsource.com/.

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