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Castle spills beans on ROL dispute

By Chris Williams. Published: 21st Jun 2004, 20:32:20 | Permalink | Printable

Breaches and the history [Updated]

Earlier today, Castle held a press conference to answer the burning questions on their stance against RISCOS Ltd. in the recent legal dispute between the two OS developers.

After STD and VirtualAcorn released announcements that they had suspended the shipment of products employing RISC OS 4, Castle countered with allegations that RISCOS Ltd. had breached their licence with the owners of RISC OS - which as of July 2003, is Castle, after they reportedly bought the OS from Pace Micro. RISCOS Ltd. quickly responded by refuting Castle's allegations, but Castle announced that they had terminated RISCOS Ltd's licence back in May 2004.

Castle today revealed that, ever since acquiring RISC OS, RISCOS Ltd. have allegedly breached their licence to develop and sell RISC OS by: failing to pay Castle royalties from November 2003 onwards; for releasing Printers+ as open source software; and for not passing back their work on RISC OS 4 to Castle. Several sources, including a vocal RISC OS shareholder, have insisted that RISCOS Ltd. do not need to pass back their work to Castle (although, they had to for a limited period of time when Pace Micro owned RISC OS) - but Castle's solicitors, we're told, disagreed with this. Castle also argued that as they were required to protect their intellectual property (which includes the RISC OS source code), things like Printers+ cannot be open sourced.

Castle apparently contacted RISCOS Ltd. soon after they took ownership of RISC OS, and said they've spent the past 12 months asking RISCOS Ltd. to correct its apparent licence breaches. In December 2003, Castle consulted their team of lawyers to look over all the paperwork involved, to determine if and where RISCOS Ltd. had breached its licence - now, Castle seem ultimately confident that they are in the right, despite RISCOS Ltd.'s protest to the contrary.

Castle reassured us that they did not intend to make the dispute public, however it appears that STD's and VA's announcements prompted them to make a statement - indeed many commentators have suggested that getting the whole affair out in the open is what's best for the platform right now. Castle also said that they wanted to settle the dispute as quickly as possible and have the RISCOS Ltd. sub-licencees (companies that use RISC OS 4, like STD and VirtualAcorn) licensing RISC OS 3.7, an 'early' version of 4, and RISC OS 5 from Castle, so halted products can begin shipping again. Castle stressed that their aim was to move RISC OS forward, rather than appearing hostile to their competitors. They recognised the "good work" done by RISCOS Ltd.'s sub-licencees, and said that they had privately confirmed to each sub-licencee (directly or indirectly) that they meant their competitors no harm. Really.

For example, VirtualRiscPC, in Castle's view, is a good piece of software, but Castle declared that it is not an authorised RISC OS product and cannot be authorised under current licensing issues between Castle and RISCOS Ltd. However, Castle did say that they would like to work out a suitable new licence with VirtualAcorn. Castle also sent out letters from their solicitors to dealers and AMSes, 'warning' them of the dispute with RISCOS Ltd. Soon after, STD and VA announced that they've stopped shipping.

And so, we follow Human nature in search of explanations and fault. Who's exactly to blame? Castle repeatedly accused the management of RISCOS Ltd. of being indecisive and failing to communicate with Castle. Despite several meetings with Castle, no agreement was reached, and Castle claimed they had presented various deals to RISCOS Ltd. for them to consider. Castle also blamed the RISCOS Ltd. shareholders for pulling the company apart, and failing to reach a common opinion. Itself holding at least a 25 percent stake in RISCOS Ltd., Castle admitted that it would like to see the company wound up, because the company, according to Castle, is in a terminal position - while Castle believe that RISCOS Ltd. have provided a good run of upgrades for RiscPCs and similar kit, they were not sure if this will remain a viable income.

Granted, RISC OS 4 is pitched at the legacy market, but the MicroDigital Omega and of course, the popular VirtualRiscPC have helped keep RISC OS 4 sales to a level seemingly healthy enough for RISCOS Ltd. The cynical amongst you will read between the lines and guess that Castle really want people to migrate from RISC OS 4 to RISC OS 5, quite possibly via any means necessary. Castle's spin on the situation is that the market for RISC OS 4 upgrades is barely a thousand users, which for them, just isn't enough - particularly when they're talking of moving RISC OS to newer ARM architectures.

There's also no chance right now of Castle buying RISCOS Ltd. out because Castle state that they're unsure of exactly what liabilities and debts are attached to RISCOS Ltd., which they'd have to settle as the new owners. On June 12th, RISCOS Ltd. held a shareholder meeting, where Castle and their electronic design arm Tematic, showed off a presentation on where they want to take RISC OS, but only a skeleton agreement on which path to take was decided during the course of the day.

Chillingly, one suggested option was to move to have RISCOS Ltd. liquidated and have their assests sold to pay off what money they owe to Castle and other possible creditors. Also, Castle added that there was no point wasting money dragging RISCOS Ltd. to court to sue them, as Castle consider RISCOS Ltd. to be practically bankrupt, anyway.

Rumours are rife that RISCOS Ltd. believe that Castle does not own RISC OS, and it therefore does not have to pay Castle a penny - although Castle asserted that it owns all of RISC OS "lock, stock and barrel" (Castle's Peter Wild suggested you ask Pace if you don't believe them), and that RISCOS Ltd. were, according to Castle, happy to pay royalties to the new OS owners from July 2003 to November 2003. Castle went on to accuse RISCOS Ltd. of constantly stalling for time and "using every trick in the book". RISCOS Ltd. have also, according to Castle, traded solicitors' letters with Castle over the dispute.

When asked if Castle could have approached the dispute differently, Castle's Peter Wild commented that he wished they hadn't wasted so much time and money over the past 12 months apparently chasing RISCOS Ltd. to correct the alleged licence breaches; while Castle CEO Jack Lillingston added that he couldn't see how things could have been done differently.

One person described the situation as "extremely difficult", which is an understatement to be perfectly honest. The key issues are: who's right? who's read their contracts and licences right? Either way, one side has utterly screwed up a market showing signs of growth, while the other side has been grossly exploited. Which is which, out of Castle and RISCOS Ltd.?

So, whereas Castle have boldly and categorically asserted that RISCOS Ltd are in the wrong and they have breached their licence with Castle, RISCOS Ltd. have on the other hand, refuted the allegations and continued as business as usual. This is arguably bigger than the USB driver split, and bigger than the OS split. The current poll on Iconbar suggests that 51 percent of users are supporting Castle, leaving 49 percent supporting RISCOS Ltd., or are undecided.

Can either side really afford to effectively alienate half of our already tiny market? Is it the case of who has the better lawyers, or who's holding the last pair of aces? Until one side folds, or is proven wrong, or until perhaps we see for ourselves the contracts and licences at stake, this really could be a very long and painful ride.

Update at 02:32 23/6/2004
During the press meeting, Qercus editor John Cartmell questioned Castle on how much they were charging for royalties from RISCOS Ltd. The answer given was that Castle hadn't changed any pricings for authorised products, but had earlier said that VirtualRiscPC was unauthorised - read more about it here. Also, Iconbar have uploaded an MP3 of the conference, although the quality (we're told) isn't great and it's 27M in size.


Castle website

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"Virtual Acorn are unauthorised products ... Castle would like to see all aublicensees obtaining licences from Castle" Does this include Virtual Acorn? Or not? At present it is the only solution for a portable RISC-OS machine.

 is a RISC OS UserCKH on 21/6/04 8:40PM
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This does seem like a way for Castle to get their hands on all of ROLs improvements to the Kernel, such as all the nice features in Adjust which ROS5 seems to be lacking, and to get control of all RISC OS operating system sales from legacy machines up to the Iyonix. Although this may make them into a new Acorn, surely competition between two companies, one devoting resources to legacy machines (RISC PC, A7000 etc) and one dedicated to new hardware (Iyonix) would be much better.

 is a RISC OS Userarchez on 21/6/04 8:52PM
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Competition as in 2 different versions of the software with new features which won't get used by programmers as they are not universal and a choice of faster hardware or more features on old harware/emulation?

 is a RISC OS Usermarkee174 on 21/6/04 8:59PM
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I'm interested that the open sourcing of !Printers has been brought up. I had often wondered about that in terms of their legal obligations to the licenser.

 is a RISC OS Userfylfot on 21/6/04 9:00PM
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In reply to Archez:

"This does seem like a way for Castle to get their hands on all of ROLs improvements to the Kernel..."

I'm not sure how useful that code is likely to be to Castle. Trying to merge 2 forked versions of code without breaking lots of things is a nightmare. Probably easier to implement from scratch in most cases.

 is a RISC OS Usermarkee174 on 21/6/04 9:07PM
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One doesn't purchase IP rights (Castle) unless one knows how a profit can be made. For example getting ROL's changes. One doesn't license IP rights (Pace) without protecting oneself against a potential competitor (ROL). One technology owner (Pace) may tolerate certain licence breaches, another (Castle) may not...

 is a RISC OS UserCKH on 21/6/04 9:09PM
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All interesting stuff. As a RISC PC owner and user of Select, I support RISC OS Ltd, however, if they are in deed in breach of license, then they have to acknowledge that fact, and do something about.

On the other hand, if CTL were to purchase ROL, lock stock and barrell, surely that has got to be good for everyone. Would they then release RO5 with appropriate HAL for older machines? Or produce a budget Iyonix based workstation for those with less to spend, as a way of moving people on to RO5. Whatever happens, I think they have to be very carefull not to ailenate the last active users of RISC OS, and not to price them out of the RISC OS market.

 is a RISC OS Usersa110 on 21/6/04 9:21PM
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As a Select subscriber I'd have no problem if Castle were to subsume all of the Select / Adjust code and release as part of RO5 for the benefit of all future RO users. The more people have these facilities the better and more likely they are to be used. What I would object to is if Castle doing this effectively ended development of a 26 bit RO and soley concentrated on a 32 bit RO 5. I quite like getting OS updates for my machine and can't justify buying an Iyonix for that pleasure.

I am puzzled about their desire to licence RO 3.7 (with its inherent FS limits) or RO 5. I can't imagine Virtual RiscPC benefitting much from either. Perhaps that's the plan? And what about the A75? If Advantage Six had wanted an embedded RO 5 they'd presumable have gone to Castle rather than to ROL for an embedded RO 4?

 is a RISC OS Userjms on 21/6/04 9:32PM
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I do hope this gets tied up niecely, not sure who's on the moral high-ground, depends upon the wording of the contract that was drawn up between Pace and ROL all those years ago, to which were not privvy to, so we just have to sit and wait, though I'm not overly confident in ROL so if I was a gambling man I'd say Castle is probably in the right and it's not like theve not had quite a while to mull over the list, would be nice if Castle did buy ROL.

Though castle would have to keep there licencing scheme fairly clean and open so that the cost of buying there hardware and licence seperately was the same as buying there hardware and licence together, or other companies are going to start screaming foul play.

 is a RISC OS UserNoMercy on 21/6/04 9:37PM
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*rambles incoherently*

 is a RISC OS UserNoMercy on 21/6/04 9:39PM
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Well, this is not the way I would have liked to see it happen but I think we now have some firm leadership around the OS. Castle's apparent offer of RO5 for 26-bit machines would seem to offer the convergence we desperately need. It's a bit of a shotgun wedding - I would have preferred the user features of Select* on top of the RO5 kernel - but at least it's a resolution.

As to the legal issues, I suspect CKH has hit it on the head. A distracted (by unrelated problems) and disinterested PACE wasn't too worried about its RO rights (and, let's face it, the royalties are a lot more significant to a player of CTL's size than PACE's). CTL though care deeply about their core business.

Here's to the RO5 route map :-/

*Rounded icons excepted ;-)

 is a RISC OS UserTonyStill on 21/6/04 9:43PM
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The scene - a dark alley with foul smellig mist drifting around - in the distace a dog barks, a child crys - the street light flickers as you nervously move closer to the man in the dark cloak. "Psst - have you got any Adjust for sale ?"

 is a RISC OS Usermartin on 21/6/04 9:49PM
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Now all we need is to hear why ROL doesn't think any of this is a problem, and a copy of the agreement between E14/Pace and ROL to be made public, as well as the agreement between Pace and CTL over the sale of RISC OS.

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 21/6/04 9:53PM
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Not to get too tied up into technical talk - but surely if CTL develop their 32-bit RISC OS 5 - why would this be problem to users of older machines (as indicated above) - is there any technical reason to preven CTL releasing a rom set of RO5 to RiscPC/A7000 users? Last time I checked these all had ARM processors supporting 32-bit mode. In fact (unless I am overlooking something obvious) - surely CTL will release RO for these machines - handy extra income (I for one would value a few of the enhancements of RO5, DHCP being a prime example, without needed to spend large on Select.

With regard to CTL's legal statement (above) - ya gotta love the legal implications of it - ROL have to feed enhancements back to license owner - they can now either claim that RO 5 is a completely different OS to theirs, rendering their earlier complaints (about CTL not having a license for their OS) entirely moot, or they can claim RO 5 is the same OS (so they can continue to drag on their argument), but would have to turn all work on Select/Adjust over to CTL.

Ah, the saga continues to develop - such excitement :-)

Regards, Ryan

 is a RISC OS Userdrjones69 on 21/6/04 9:53PM
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So who's got the tabloid serialization rights?

And how's got movie rights?

 is a RISC OS Usersa110 on 21/6/04 10:01PM
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jms: The A75 is a 26bit machine, therefore they went to ROL as they produce a 26bit OS. They were also developing an embedded RISC OS 4 already (as stated on the Castle website!). Castle will obviously want to lisence RO5 and not RO4 as they wantt to merge them as RO5, and legally they may not have the right to lisence RO4 to these companies.

Overall, I can see this being very good at first - however, I also see an abrupt end coming to this otherwise expanding market. Castle have openly admitted to having bigger fish to fry and will no doubt drop the desktop market without the bat of an eyelid (should there be more money drawing them into a wider market). Hopefully, they still hold some dignity and know their roots, but as can be seen by many companies of the past (MS for example), when money enters the equation, interests become distorted.

On the positive side, I believe Castle could easily maintain two versions of RO5, seeing as they apparently have a 26bit HAL; it is unlikely many changes will be made below the HAL and all other layers run on top of the HAL, so they can easily be ported between the two platforms. The only difference may be little incentives. For example, releasing the new 32bit version a few months before the 26bit version - important for developers.

I only hope that this all resolves well for the market and the companies involved.

 is a RISC OS UserSmiler on 21/6/04 10:02PM
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Smiler: The A75 is a 32bit machine that runs RISC OS 4 in a legacy backwards-compatible mode, IIRC. IIRCA, it even boots into 32bit mode by default, and needs some stub code before the kernel to switch the CPU into 26bit mode.

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 21/6/04 10:10PM
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jms: For crying out loud. If 26bit development stops, then so what? Time to be realistic. Do you still get OS updates for your A5000? Did you still get them when the RiscPC came out? No and no. So why should the RiscPC be supported now it has been replaced? That's not the way to move forward - it's the way to stand still. To be frank, customers who don't buy new hardware aren't much use to a company whose business is selling new hardware. No-one says you *should* buy an IyonixPC, but you can't expect Castle to support legacy hardware when the idea is to go forward.

nunfetishist: you're clearly trolling. Unless you consider yourself to be a fine moral and legal judge who has the right to see confidential documents. Since when do companies put such documents in the public domain? There is nothing to prove to anyone but the courts and lawyers.

 is a RISC OS Userarenaman on 21/6/04 10:20PM
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archez: "This does seem like a way for Castle to get their hands on all ROLs improvements to the kernel"

No, Castle said in their press briefing that it is *not* practical to re-merge the RISC OS 4 and RISC OS 5 kernels, even though it *is* practical to bring Select features to RISC OS 5, if there is ROL co-operation.


 is a RISC OS Userdgs on 21/6/04 10:20PM
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But if RISCOS ltd fed the orignal RISC OS 4 changes back to Pace, would not Castle have those with their deal with Pace? As the select changes were not RISC OS4? OR am I missing something?

 is a RISC OS UserRevin Kevin on 21/6/04 10:21PM
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Revin Kevin: Certainly, if ROL didn't feed back changes they were required to to Pace, you'd wonder why they didn't get upset.

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 21/6/04 10:22PM
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arenaman: "you're clearly trolling."

Quite the oppisite. If that information were revealed, then the vaste majority of this wild and mostly pointless speculation would cease. And frankly, I'd love to see that. Having all this discussion isn't helping matters, and only makes the platform look bad from the outside.

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 21/6/04 10:25PM
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On a lighter note, and responding to comments in the Iconbar article (am I allowed to say that?), I was thinking of upgrading my poor aging Psion.

So here's this rather tasty Palm T3 with its 400MHz XScale processor, colour 480x320 touchscreen, 64MB of RAM and WiFi; about UKP300. All it needs is a nice compact ROM-based OS that does not assume it has loads of hard drive available. Of course, it would need a HAL and not depend on 26-bit modes......

 is a RISC OS UserTonyStill on 21/6/04 10:48PM
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...and a suitable video system, and the considerable time/money/effort to do it, as well as proof of a market at a given price to make it worthwhile. Can you offer those?

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 21/6/04 11:08PM
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You need to divorce what Castle would like (10% of ARM processors running RISC OS and 8-10m investment) with what they've got (a dispute and no clear way of resolving it and responsibility for cancelling 3rd party licences and no product to offer them in place of their contract). As I see it the 3rd party developers have little choice but to continue to market their current products 'illegally' - if they want to remain RISC OS developers. Castle cannot offer them anything other than an 'early' RO4 as they have no access to RO Select or RO Adjust. RO5 for legacy machines is some distance off. If Castle don't offer them this way out then they will be directly responsible for destroying the RO market - although they would hold ROL to blame. What's possible is a conundrum. Castle clearly don't want to accept that it's possible to go back on the legal letters they now admit to having sent out to the developers but, at the same time, they have no proposed solution - other than hoping ROL cave in.

Of course if it all worked out as Castle hope there would be a bright future for themselves (and RISC OS) and they maintain that they want (and need) 3rd party developers). Blocking the dream is ROL maintaining they have not broken their contract (according to the Drobe report) and Castle "We know we're right". With luck for all a compromise will be agreed in double quick time.

 is a RISC OS UserQ on 21/6/04 11:09PM
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Could someone shed light on what the hell they think they could actually spend all that money on ??!! 250 developers for a year? They're insane.

 is a RISC OS Userimj on 21/6/04 11:21PM
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The key detail is that Castle own 25% of RISC OS Ltd. All they need to do is persude 26% of the other shareholders to side with them. How many individuals is that? Once Castle get their support, the management of ROL will have to roll over on their back in submition to the new alpha male. End of legal hassles, end of crisis.

 is a RISC OS UserJWCR on 21/6/04 11:23PM
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End of decent RISC OS.

 is a RISC OS Userimj on 21/6/04 11:25PM
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You're clearly showing you have anti-Castle issues - it's not the end of decent RISC OS, it's perhaps the start of a stronger RISC OS. ROL's market was a dead end one, Castle's isn't.

 is a RISC OS UserSparkY on 21/6/04 11:28PM
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SparkY: So you're saying from all the junk that CTL spouted this evening, you're actually pro CTL ? Amusing.

 is a RISC OS Userimj on 21/6/04 11:33PM
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imj: so now Castle are spouting "junk". Glad you are in the know. Perhaps you would care to share with the rest of us how you came to that conclusion, based on facts you know to be true...

 is a RISC OS Userarenaman on 21/06/04 11:57PM
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imj: "Could someone shed light on what the hell they think they could actually spend all that money on ??!! 250 developers for a year? They're insane."

So if your wild guess was true, you have an objection against such development?

I've heard it all now if a so-called RISC OS fan is complaining because someone talks about spending millions on RISC OS (and no news article says Castle said they *would* spend that much, instead it's just what they think it could do with).

Look, Castle have RISC OS and hardware engineers (note: plural. There is more than one). RISC OS is better off in their hands than the hands of RISCOS Ltd, who have failed in the most fantastic manner to achieve anything that remotely comes close to pushing forward the platform.

 is a RISC OS Userarenaman on 22/06/04 00:01AM
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arenaman: Maybe imj only read Drobe's quick summary (would you rather wait till tomorrow, or read some key points today?), and didn't realise that Castle's press briefing and press conference was rather more wide-ranging than that.

The article does mention "More details, and more details" to follow.

Some of what Drobe published in this article was publicly known (including to Drobe) on 19th June, but perhaps it was felt it "fit in" better here.

I don't think anyone genuinely thought that Castle's preferred emphasis was on talking about license breaches or non-payment of license fees or whatever.


 is a RISC OS Userdgs on 22/06/04 00:04AM
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FYI, for people jumping straight into the forums, the article has been substantially updated with more detailed facts - if the last you saw was a brief list of bullet points, you need to check back again :)


 is a RISC OS Userdiomus on 22/06/04 00:22AM
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What good is RO5 to me...are those old games going to be converted or do I need to purchase Aemulator PRO. On my Mico it would barely crawl along.

 is a RISC OS Userjlavallin on 22/06/04 00:52AM
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diomus: Indeed - and very interesting reading it makes too.

What conclusions can we draw from the updated article?

(1) First of all, sales of the "PopularVirtualRiscPC" application are likely to rise. This application, often now referred to just as "Popular", has already been mentioned twice in Drobe articles, and that's just the start. Suggestions that this application may be mis-named, will be hushed up in double quick time.

(2) Disputed uses of the verb "to refute" are rife.

(3) Things that Castle say are "alleged", but when they say something positive, they "try to reassure".

(4) Drobe knows about a Castle "spin" on the situation, but can't yet tell us what the RISCOS Ltd "spin" is.

(5) There are accusations equivalent to continuation of trading whilst knowingly bankrupt. Not good news.


 is a RISC OS Userdgs on 22/06/04 00:56AM
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Jeff: For running old games, look no further than RedSquirrel. Still freely available. :-) [link]

 is a RISC OS Userimj on 22/06/04 01:01AM
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Oh, and the Iconbar poll currently shows 51% "supporting" Castle, 37% "supporting" RISCOS Ltd, and 12% "neutral".

A casual reader of the main article might not have noticed that ;-)


 is a RISC OS Userdgs on 22/06/04 01:02AM
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Should have read Iconbar first it seems that series 7500 computers will not be supported ....Great! another nail in the Mico coffin.

 is a RISC OS Userjlavallin on 22/06/04 01:02AM
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jlavallin: Don't be upset about it. RISC OS 5 for the Mico was about as likely than RISC OS 3.5 for the A3010. Also, the advantages would have been limited by the obvious limitations of the Mico hardware.


 is a RISC OS Userdgs on 22/06/04 01:10AM
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Jeff: If RO5 is made available for RPC-era machines, it shouldn't actually be necessary to emulate old program code because the 26-bit CPU modes are still available. It will, however, be necessary to hide the API changes & handle 26-bit modules which is the major part of Aemulor's work. See here: [link] where I tried to explain the issues a couple of days ago.

 is a RISC OS Useradrianl on 22/06/04 01:44AM
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I think it is really time we took a good reality check here.

RISC OS Ltd really don't seem to have the necessary funds to develop RISC OS much outside the current market or at speed. This restricts the amount of development and types of development work they can do. I agree that Select / Adjust is quite an achievement but it has taken a very long time to get this far. Castle appear to be the only company in the RISC OS scene with the ability to take on significant development work within realistic commerical timeframes.

What ever the future of RISC OS is it needs significant funding. Much more than can be afforded under the Select scheme and relatively low sales volumes. RISC OS Ltd haven't been able to get large scale sales other than upgrades to RiscPC's (whose numbers are slowly declining) and as a result can't take on development costs themselves, it is just to risky (pun not intended).

If Castle gain control then atleast some certainty will return to the market, significant improvements could be made and the desktop market would get some benefit from the embedded developments and a wider range of processor options. Castle also appear to have a vision for RISC OS and RISC OS Ltd don't.

This is something that has been hanging over the market for a while. Once it is sorted out I think everyone will win (maybe everyone but RISC OS Ltd).

 is a RISC OS Userknutson on 22/06/04 02:18AM
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In reply to knutson: I agree with much of your "reality check", although without actually knowing what the market is like for Virtual RiscPC sales, I suspect that there must have been a reasonable income from the emulation-route hardware developers, with the prospect of more to come.

Without buying into the rather emotional debate about the virtues or otherwise of Virtual RiscPC, the only ones who have any real idea about the prospects for sales in this area are the people who've been selling the systems. CTL's attitude to emulation doesn't seem to have been precisely questioned in this report. When you say that "the desktop market would get some benefit from the embedded developments and a wider range of processor options", I'm uncertain as to whether or not you're confining your remarks on processsor options to applications outside the desktop. On the other hand, CTL's remarks seem to indicate they are supportive of all developers, so if this is true, the distinction is unnecessary.

If CTL have undertaken an analysis of how other people's licenced RISC OS applications are likely to affect their own markets, then there's a simple enough business decision to make once you've reached that point: which of them (all, one or any number between) is likely to produce the best business result for you, and should be supported? If we can take CTL's reported remarks at face value, then they seem to be saying they're supporting all current developers, except for ROL, maybe.

Having said all that, if ROL are as shaky as the article suggests, then CTL probably have no choice other than to force them to the wall. To do otherwise in that circumstance would mean putting more of their future income stream at risk, unnecessarily. From their (and maybe many other's) points of view, it would be the quickest way to clarify things, as painful as it might be for some in the short term!

 is a RISC OS UserRobA on 22/06/04 04:57AM
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I can't figure out why ROL wouldn't pay their royalties. I can understand that there is some disagreement over whether CTL have broken their original license with ROL, and ROL's possible breach when it comes to +Printers and other contractual issues, but it seems plain daft for a company to simply stop paying owed royalties. The way to settle these legal problems definately wasn't to stop paying royalties.... it gave Castle a major reason cancel the license. If what Castle are alleging is correct, it would seem ROL don't want to help themselves.

One reason ROL might think CTL are in the wrong (CTL have broken their license with ROL) is that the Element 14 License might have had clauses against anti-competition. Below is an excerpt from ROL's Mission Statement released in 1999.

"(ROL will) Seek to find licensees for RISC OS outside the traditional Acorn markets subject to any non-competitive clauses from Element 14."

Perhaps ROL think that by CTL owning RISC OS and being a hardware manufacturer, they are breaking these "non-competitive clauses", or am I reading this wrong? Does "non-competitive" mean against any anti-competitive business by companies, or does it mean something else?

 is a RISC OS Usertimephoenix on 22/06/04 07:22AM
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arenaman: "For crying out loud. If 26bit development stops, then so what?"

Oh calm down, dear, it's only a comment! You should know the more one shouts and rants the less people pay attention to them.

 is a RISC OS Userjms on 22/06/04 08:33AM
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Quote: Castle also said that they wanted to settle the dispute as quickly as possible and have the RISCOS Ltd. sub-licencees (companies that use RISC OS 4, like STD and VirtualAcorn) licensing RISC OS 3.7, an 'early' version of 4, and RISC OS 5 from Castle, so halted products can begin shipping again.

Quote : The cynical amongst you will read between the lines and guess that Castle really want people to migrate from RISC OS 4 to RISC OS 5, quite possibly via any means necessary. Castle's spin on the situation is that the market for RISC OS 4 upgrades is barely a thousand users, which for them, just isn't enough - particularly when they're talking of moving RISC OS to newer ARM architectures.

So why bother ? Let ROL die, release RO5 for all legacy and emulation users and this whole license situation is academic. Clearly there's more to this than a few royalty payments. It seems to me, not cynically but realistically given Castle's own statements, that they want ROL out of the way so that they can own the whole RISC OS market (NB RISC OS not RISCOS). However ROL are doing better now than they have for quite a while and if that Omega with an Xscale appears it would make a huge difference. You can argue all you like about, Omega's, Xscales, who should own what , who is the best to develop RISC OS etc etc, but the tactics, in my opinion, are to get rid of a competitor using a legal stick because they can't succeed with the product itself i.e. RO5 vs Select. I've said this elsewhere: I suspect if you were to compare ongoing sales of RO5 vs Select then RO5 would be downwards and Select slightly upwards.



 is a RISC OS Usermripley on 22/06/04 08:46AM
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mripley: "if that Omega with an XScale appears it would make a huge difference"

We were told that at least *something* ARMtwister related would be demonstrated at the RISC OS Expo 2004.

Yet again, this failed to happen. So that's a big "if".

"I suspect if you were to compare ongoing sales of RO5 versus Select"

... then you might have to include Castle's sales *outside* the enthusiast market, and thus you would end up with a rather different picture. (Quite apart from the fact that it's pure speculation, and the evidence we do have seems to contradict it).


 is a RISC OS Userdgs on 22/06/04 09:06AM
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We have yet to see any evidence of RO5 products being successfully sold in large numbers in any embedded markets. Or have I missed something?

 is a RISC OS Useranon/ on 22/06/04 11:49AM
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That depends how you define "large numbers".

Just "more than the enthusiast market", perhaps? That makes it relatively easy.


 is a RISC OS Userdgs on 22/06/04 12:22AM
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If there were large numbers of RO5 sold outside "our" market then why on earth would Castle bother with ROL Ltd. Let it whither away and die. Surely it costs far more in lawyers fees to pursue ROL Ltd than any financial benefit they get from killing off ROL Ltd. Castle will get the Iyonix hardware sales irrespective of a live or dead ROL Ltd as the 26bit side slowly dies. None of this makes sense which is why I suspect the true motives for the recent activites have not been published (but I can extrapolate) and their published assessment of the state of 26bit/Select etc is not entirely accurate.

Please note I am neither pro nor anti, Castle or ROL Ltd, unlike the clear bias some people have here! I just want to see some stability for us users for the correct reasons.



 is a RISC OS Usermripley on 22/06/04 3:26PM
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It would make sense if some customer said: I'd like to buy 50,000 units, but the future of your product seems uncertain with 2 companies in disagreement as to who owns what

 is a RISC OS Usermavhc on 22/06/04 6:00PM
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To Josh: We're given to understand that the reason ROL didn't pay the invoice is that the invoice wasn't for the sum agreed and that paying (or even part paying) that invoice would indicate acceptance of the new charge. Castle have said this "interpretation is wrong". As the increase is (I think) reported as 850% (I think I mistakenly said 900% earlier) I'm sure that you, as a customer would be unhappy about that increase. NB I understood Castle to say that the price increase did not relate to authorised products but I'm confused how Castle might be invoicing for "unauthorised products" or "products not capable of being authorised". (I'm open to guidance here from anyone else who was at last night's conference).

To Malcolm: What Castle can offer the third parties immediately is unlikely to be (I would say certainly not) suitable. What they all appear to need *now!* is RO 4.39 and only ROL can offer that.

 is a RISC OS UserQ on 22/06/04 7:52PM
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Q: Until you make clear who you're "given to understand" this by, repeating it on every forum you can think of won't necessarily give it credibility.

If there were obviously unreasonable license demands made by Castle back in late 2003, surely ROL would be prepared to say so?

Or are you acting as a RISCOS Ltd spokesman in this matter?


 is a RISC OS Userdgs on 22/06/04 8:39PM
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In reply to mrchocky: My well-intentioned attempt to lighten the mood seemed to fall flat. However, I didn't think that the idea of RO5 on a Palm was as silly as you seemed to.

"and a suitable video system": I agree that one would need access to the Palm specs (which might be a cost issue) but it's likely to be much simpler than the Iyonix nVidia, hence a simpler job to produce the HAL. After all, the "bulk of the device driver implementation remains in the RISC OS modules" (forgive me quoting at you). So a simple underlying video system is likely to be easier to map onto. Remember that John told us that much of the Iyonix work was concerned with getting the nvidia card to intialise.

"proof of a market...to make it worthwhile": You are, of course, entirely right about this. It's a risk, made worse by the provision of hardware easily priced-up in PC World. Would the RO aficionados pay a very visible premium of (guess) UKP120? I'm pleased it wouldn't be my money being gambled on that.

Finally, at the risk of being accused of saying 'Ya boo', I was pleased and amused to see PDAs mentioned in the RO5 modernisation story. Mine was intended as a humorous aside but, remember, 2 years ago few would have believed that CTL could produce the whole RO dream: 32-bit OS, HAL, XScale, USB, PCI, modern graphics *and* a video driver. I don't think I'm damaging the market with this little dream.

 is a RISC OS UserTonyStill on 22/06/04 9:35PM
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mripley > Surely it costs far more in lawyers' fees to pursue ROL Ltd... Indeed. As far as I read the article, Castle stated that they had no intention of doing so, for these reasons. They seem content to let it die on its own (which they seem to think fairly likely - no comment as to whether I agree or not).

 is a RISC OS Userhutchies on 22/06/04 9:53PM
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To dgs: I've known about the invoice question for some time but have not felt free to discuss it publicly until JL publicly confirmed last night some more details from those invoices. Whilst he rejects the interpretation he was at pains to confirm that there was "no change in the invoiced unit price for authorised products".

Are you rejecting what Jack said or are you suggesting that he chose such a convoluted phrase for some other reason? When asked if there were any other items on the invoice in addition to authorised products, he named "unauthorised products" and "products not capable of authorisation" and went on to name those as Virtual Acorn.

Now are you suggesting that Castle didn't increase the price of Virtual Acorn on their invoices? Please name your source. Or are you suggesting that I've got the amount wrong? Perhaps the increase wasn't limited to Virtual Acorn but included another "unauthorised product" that I don't know about? I'm happy to receive your correction if you have direct knowledge of the matter. I'm not going to quote directly but I'm double or treble checking the facts before posting on this matter and I'm ignoring all the good (bad?) rumours going around where I haven't or can't check the facts. And yes I do keep contemporaneous notes - and in far better condition than those kept by a certain professional BBC reporter. I'm reporting. The only 'representation' that I'm doing is for myself and - in a small way - for RISC OS (*not* ROL).

 is a RISC OS UserQ on 22/06/04 10:54PM
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Q: "Please name your source."

That works both ways. And you haven't.

Speculation and unattributed rumour-mongering helps no-one. Being more open to co-operation and compromise would be a rather better idea.


 is a RISC OS Userdgs on 22/06/04 11:04PM
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To dgs: Speculation is when you guess with insufficient reason. That's not the case in my report. Unattributed is when you don't name your sources. I've named one. And there isn't an ounce of rumour amongst it all. I'm the one that has been calling for co-operation and compromise for months - indeed years. Suddenly, once it's too late for alternative action, you think it's a good rallying call. The principals involved know exactly what is needed to sort out the mess. I'm certain none of them like the options.

Now is not the time for silly squabbling. If you have something valuable to contribute then either make it public or pass on your good ideas to those who can implement them. The first task is to get a guaranteed and accepted legal copy of RISC OS 4.39 made available to all the developers. Do it tomorrow and they can get on with some development and sales work and cancel all those expensive appointments with solicitors.

 is a RISC OS UserQ on 23/06/04 00:05AM
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Q: "If you have something valuable to contribute then either make it public or pass on your good ideas to those who can implement them"

Never a truer word spoken.

Leave off the rumour-spreading, then, and get on with what you suggest.


 is a RISC OS Userdgs on 23/06/04 00:39AM
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In reply to Dgs,

my response to you would offend certain readers,

 is a RISC OS Usermripley on 23/06/04 08:19AM
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mripley: "my response to you would offend certain readers"

I don't think there's much progress to be made by offending one party or another. As has been said elsewhere, it's time to look towards the future of RISC OS, not more squabblng.


 is a RISC OS Userdgs on 23/06/04 09:00AM
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Well, my two pennies of rumour... It seems that the entire case is about money. Well, if CTL increased the 'invoice' of 'unathorised products' by 850% (as said) IMHO CTL don't want VA(RPC) marketed. Otherwise, I'm not seeing any technical reason for such an increase. And, looking at the price of recent products from CTL, I'm led to think that someone is desperately needing/wanting money.

 is a RISC OS Useranon/ on 23/06/04 09:26AM
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> I'm led to think that someone is desperately needing/wanting money.

What, despite just having got a sale of 50,000 units? Hmm.

 is a RISC OS Useranon/ via on 23/06/04 11:14AM
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With a plan of several million pounds of development? hmmmm...

 is a RISC OS Userbernie on 23/06/04 11:32AM
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Clearly one of the most serious problems is that the companies not directly involved (e.g. VA, A6) can no longer distribute their products.

It would be nice if there was some way that the problems for such companies could be avoided, perhaps by placing royalty fees for these products into trust, with an agreement that it be split between the companies based on the outcome of their dispute.

Perhaps this would just be too complicated, but it would certainly be a good way for both companies to prove their claims of not wanting to harm the wider market. Especially if this dispute really is going to roll on for some time.

Time to return to the real world now :(

 is a RISC OS Userflypig on 23/06/04 12:00AM
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The comment about Acorn being a 'Week' company does fly in the face of the facts.

They conceived and developed a RISC processor (ARM was spun off later), this is a feat that defeated *EVERY* other maunfacturer. I also own an IBM RT6150, the worlds first RISC computer with over 100 instructions. IBM (a Strong company?) spent more money on this one project than all of the Acorn markplace spent on all of the kit and software since it's inception.

The education marketplace is still *The* marketplace, how many times have I had to convince people that there are other computers on the market?, this is solely due to the strancle hold that MS has on that market place and the first contact the people have with IT. It is also why MS are willing to spend millions on setting up an IT lab for Oxford University FOC.

Finally, it is not in anyones interest to rake over the coals of the long deceased Acorn, particualrly when what killed it was the General Publics and Governments increasing ignorance of British IT innovation. The Governments neglect of backing up our inventions internationally is killing it stone dead. People like Dyson have to take Hoover to court in the US, at their own expense, because of this failing. How many features of RISCOS have found their way into other peoples OS's?

 is a RISC OS UserNigelK on 23/06/04 12:17AM
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"IMHO CTL don't want VA(RPC) marketed", Bernie.

Another way of looking at it could be that Virtual Acorn is bringing in a lot of money to ROL, Castle would only get a smallish percentage of that (the license fee that goes from ROL to Castle (previously Pace)). By making it very expensive Castle could have been trying to get ROL to stop suppling VirtualAcorn with RISC OS so that VirtualAcorn would buy a version of RISC OS direct from Castle. This might make Castle more per unit than the license cost from ROL.

Just a thought, and rather sound from a buisness point of view.


 is a RISC OS Userflibble on 23/06/04 12:20AM
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