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RISC OS 5 modernisation to cost millions

By Chris Williams. Published: 22nd Jun 2004, 07:40:34 | Permalink | Printable

Going all the way, baby

How much will it cost to modernise RISC OS 5? Give it your best guess. Well, yesterday Castle estimated that, for them, it'll probably cost between eight and ten million quid. And therefore, it's going to be a very gradual process.

Tematic logoAs part of Monday's press conference with Castle, COO Peter Wild gave a brief introduction to Castle's future plans for RISC OS 5, which partly explain why Castle are so eager to press ahead with issues like the RISCOS Ltd. dispute - Castle say they want to push the market forward but want everything "in order" before they do so.

Also, copies of the Tematic presentation, that was given at last month's RISCOS Ltd. shareholder meeting, were passed onto RISC OS media outlets to report on. As you may know, Tematic is the design arm of Castle, and has been since the two companies merged at the start of the year, although Tematic were behind the design of the Castle Iyonix.

The game plan
We know they've been saying this for years, but Castle really want to get as big a slice as possible from the huge worldwide market of ARM processors. In 2001, over 400 million ARM based processors were shipped worldwide, so if Castle can push RISC OS onto even a tiny percentage of this number, the stage will be set for bigger things. Or at least, that's been the dream.

Not every ARM processor will be suitable, as every chip considered will need to meet certain requirements for RISC OS (notably the presence of some kind of MMU amongst other things), but their sights are definitely set on modern, 32bit ARM 9, 10 and 11 processor cores. Nevertheless, and (again) we know they've been saying this for years, Castle want to really move into the embedded arena, and hopefully take on some 'virginal' markets. Think PDAs, Internet appliances, in car entertainment systems and other embedded devices that Acorn hinted at too. The concept of people using RISC OS without knowing, in their ethernet enabled fridges or organising their lives with a RISC OS powered PDA, does tickle us.

In terms of recent efforts to develop the embedded side of RISC OS 5, according to the Tematic presentation, Castle have worked on enhancing their C/C++ compiler package, implementing USB 2.0 and IPv6, and working on new video codec support (including WMP), new HALs for ARM 9 devices and also device drivers - Castle claim to have ported the RISC OS 5 kernel to a new processor and system-on-a-chip device in two weeks. In the future, Castle want to focus on even more ARM processor cores, with "emphasis on low power portable and hand held devices" and wireless support.

Right place at the right time
In order to squeeze their way into whatever market space they'll eventually target (or have found, but aren't telling us), Castle realise that RISC OS needs to be 'modernised', and that this will come at a price. So their plan is to approach things gradually and build the OS up to the point where they say they can afford to give RISC OS features that its competitors have. Peter Wild said he'd eventually like to see PMT (that old chestnut) and real time processing in the OS, which was an unexpected comment given (what we imagine to be) the sheer amount of work required to plough these features, sorry, OS architectures into RISC OS 5.

Castle also want to use the same RISC OS kernel in both their embedded systems and in desktop products, like the XScale powered Iyonix. You would be forgiven in thinking that it may be a good idea to have a particular kernel tuned for low foot print, reliable embedded products, and another kernel tuned for feature rich desktop users - but it's Castle's party and they'll build their OS the way they want to. Castle's justification is that, by focussing development on honing an embedded kernel, desktop users will benefit from using a reliable kernel that's undergone the necessary software quality assurance (SQA) tests required for an embedded kernel.

Castle CEO Jack Lillingston was keen to stress that they're not leaving the desktop market behind because they need it to provide a development platform for their clients' engineers, and they also need a desktop market to kindle future generations of programmers. Peter Wild also added that the embedded and desktop markets need not be mutually exclusive.

For instance, Castle launched in May the Merlin project, which will release in phases new features for RISC OS 5. Castle hope to review the feedback they've received from that, allocate resources to features that can be implemented and then inform users of the features they'll be adding. The Tematic presentation also mentions the "possible incorporation" of some RISC OS Select features: merging the RISC OS 4 and 5 kernels is out of the question (leaving Castle to play catch up with the kernel bugs that RISCOS Ltd. have spent the past 4 years fixing), but suggests that RISC OS Select desktop features could work with the RISC OS 5 kernel if RISCOS Ltd. co-operate - which beautifully echoes what RISCOS Ltd. has been asking for the past four months, except RISCOS Ltd. want co-operation with Castle.

Arguing that they are "committed to supporting loyal users and giving them what they deserve" with "plans to support legacy users" despite claiming that 32bit RISC OS 5 is "the only way forward", the highly detailed Castle road map (sans time scales) looks like this:
  1. Iyonix
  2. Iyonix successors
  3. Other ARM based platforms
  4. The rest is secret

Castle also want to support VirtualAcorn, "in the right commercial context".

Another step in Castle's plans is the issue of licensing RISC OS 5 to companies outside our desktop arena, and this bit is straight forward in Castle's view: they'll license a lot. By getting RISC OS 5 onto as many hardware platforms as possible, Castle hope to secure shipments with unit volumes that out number the total number of RISC OS computers sold over the past 5 years - which isn't too difficult, given the oh so super success of their desktop competitors RiscStation and MicroDigital.

And the rest is history?
It was pointed out to Castle that it appears that they are following Acorn's footsteps rather closely, perhaps too close for comfort and biting off more than they can chew by pushing RISC OS on the desktop and embedded fronts and, of course, we all know what happened to Acorn. There were tears. However, Castle quickly pointed out that Acorn was a completely different company in different circumstances: it employed "geeks" who were "managed by accountants" and marketed by "school teachers", and was a weak company sitting on a big pile of ARM shares - it didn't stand a chance in the wake of anxious suits, hence its break up.

So, in summary, are Castle pre-announcing? Are they whipping us into a furious state of zealotry the likes the platform has not seen since 1991, or is this talk of future success bringing back that bitter after taste of computers cased in yellow and promises of FPGA based graphics systems inspired by electrical storms? Hopefully Castle (and other remaining players in the market) are aware that nowadays, as far as the RISC OS platform is concerned, talk is cheap, and that it's their realised ambitions that we're most interested in.

Normally, by playing their cards close to their chest and not revealing anything until a product's finished, Castle have avoided the usual abuse levelled at other market players, who have sometimes failed to keep their hyped up, pre-announced promises. Now, having outlined their intentions, Castle have goals to publically commit themselves to, and as time passes, goals by which we can later measure them against.

Castle, though, haven't quite discarded their no-pre-announcement policy: they refuse to comment on whether or not there'll be a native, ARM based RISC OS laptop or a 'budget Iyonix', teasing us with the usual, "we'd like to engineer a product first, then tell everyone about it."

When they do, you'll be the first to know.


Castle website

Previous: Castle spills beans on ROL dispute
Next: How Arthur OS will save us all


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I like the "geeks, accountants and schoolteachers" bit. That's so true.

 is a RISC OS Userharmsy on 22/6/04 8:14AM
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Cant help but think that having a central OS focus will be a good thing and that CTL are about the only company that can pull it off.

 is a RISC OS Userzito on 22/6/04 9:02AM
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my god, it seems that castle have been thinking about what the users want (or need if they havnt realised it yet).

I think this will move me closer to a PDA, Iyonix, and VA for my laptop! ;)

Nice Job Castle! Knew they were the team to do it :D

 is a RISC OS Userem2ac on 22/6/04 9:21AM
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Another excellent article.

But it looks like some more long waiting before I get me Ix lapdog. ;)

 is a RISC OS Userfylfot on 22/6/04 9:28AM
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This all sounds very promising.

It is good to see the future direction of RISC OS some focus.

 is a RISC OS Uservshears on 22/6/04 9:38AM
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People point out the weak marketing of Acorn as the blame to it's company sell out, but wasn't it these "geeks, accountants and schoolteachers" that were responsible for the foundation in the making of this Acorn machine? If not who was it then? :acorn: Although the Acorn RISC OS computer lacks so many features and years of development compared to the Multiple Sclerosis (MS) computers, we still have a great RISC OS system. Acorn /RISC OS are "so different" to MS, I think that Castle will eventually succeed if their plan develops a new RISC OS that's even more "so different" to MS. I use Acorn RISC OS machines and I don't have an Iyonixs (because of lack of money for now!) , but what ever RISC OS develops into (and eventually leaves behind), now is the warning to plan, save and change for the future pathway. Like many of you, I really don't know the answers but at the moment I'm beginning to think maybe we better have more trust and faith in Castle. Why trust Castle? Well they could shut the door on us completely and walk away from all of this, they do say that they need a desktop for their client's engineers and future programmers (that doesn't sound like us at the forefront!) :blush: Cheers, Steve.

 is a RISC OS UserSawadee on 22/6/04 10:04AM
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Castle obviously seem driven to move RISC OS into the imbedded market, an area that is ideally suited to our nice and trim OS. I particulary like the line "and they also need a desktop market to kindle future generations of programmers", yah! Maybe 10 years from now when RISC OS is featured in every handheld, fridge and toaster we can all look back and be glad we stuck with our RISC OS machines even after Acorn expired.

Of course for this dream to succeed Castle, RISC OS ltd, etc need to sort their differences out right now. Plus an affordable Iyonix for us people with tighter budgets, after all the machine is a few years old now. I shall cut and paste once more: "and they also need a desktop market to kindle future generations of programmers"

 is a RISC OS UserFuzzy on 22/6/04 10:07AM
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why do people think pda or washing machines when someone mentiones embedded???? The OS is probably not ideal for a pda now palm is multitasking.

Also the PDA sales have dropped and more focus is being put on smartphones (wher palm has the ideal OS for that, and the BEOS programmers).

THings that it would eb good for are modular systems like protein purification units, sequencers, unltrsond machines and othe medical equipment. Cheers Bob

 is a RISC OS Usernijinsky on 22/6/04 11:10AM
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Why do people use so many question marks when one will do????

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 22/6/04 11:14AM
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ah but not forget most mobiles, now have ARMs in them! thats where we need to be (and the java might filter back from java for mobiles!

 is a RISC OS Userem2ac on 22/6/04 11:23AM
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It's the equivalent of a smilie, to add additional meaning without additional text. Here multiple question marks indicate it's a rhetorical question along the lines of 'why do people... embedded? Huh? Huh? Huh?!'

 is a RISC OS Usersenduran on 22/6/04 11:23AM
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In any case, the figures quoted sound extravagant to say the least. Even given the enormous difficulties in implementing PMT, and perhaps resolving some other very hard OS issues.

Some back of an envelope calcuations suggest to me that a mere cool million should get you pretty much everything that you want. I guess Castle and I are working from different assumptions about OS development, however.

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 22/6/04 11:26AM
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sendu: Excessive punctionation is rarely used in such a way in practice. It's usually used when the person's comprehension of an issue is poor, or they're just being lazy about asking a question properly.

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 22/6/04 11:29AM
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So where does this leave the likes of Microdigital and RiscStation? What have these companies got to say about all this, given that they rely on RISCOS Ltd's RISC OS 4 product?

And where does this leave support for customers who have Omegas, Micos and R7500's?

The silence from certain corners of the RISC OS market is worrying...

 is a RISC OS Userrod on 22/6/04 11:55AM
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"We've learned from Acorn," claim Castle, whilst embarking on the same old long march to nowhere. Eight to ten million quid plus a fair amount of time spent fixing up RISC OS means that by the time Acorn, erm, Castle finally reach their destination (if they ever do), they might as well ready the big sign with large letters formally inviting a thorough slapping from embedded Linux and its established competitors (or rather those still in business by the time all this comes about).

But before exploring the fantasy, Castle and RISC OS Ltd. have to get out of their mutual death grip. Even having Nokia continuously sniffing around Symbian is less intimidating for the average embedded systems developer looking for a platform.

 is a RISC OS Userguestx on 22/6/04 12:11PM
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I suspect that some of the cost may be licensing (probably things like Flash or WMP - which *does* get a mention). Otherwise Peter's Million would sound realistic.

guestx> Does sound that they're serious enough to me, remember inspite of Linux relative success in the embedded space they aren't the only option on handheld devices (WinCE (god) also figures). I guess ROS can beat WinCE and ROS was *designed* for the ARM whereas Linux wasn't

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 22/6/04 12:17PM
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AMS: "I guess ROS can beat WinCE and ROS was designed for the ARM whereas Linux wasn't"

Being designed for a particular CPU architecture ceased to be seen as a virtue for operating systems in the early 1970s. One can argue the usual about the compactness and efficiency of RISC OS, but a number of factors are at work here. Like Linux, RISC OS has grown in size somewhat, and if RISC OS had the wealth of software available for it that Linux has, combined with the liberal licensing of Linux, you'd have some pretty big RISC OS distributions out there. Moreover, the resources available on embedded devices is increasing all the time - expect the embedded variant of Mozilla to debut on mobile 'phones at some point. Meanwhile, the really small embedded device scene doesn't appear to have graduated to CPUs like ARMs, although one might argue that the big bucks aren't going to be made in that scene anyway.

One can't blame Castle for going for a slice of the bigger pie, but the question is whether their credentials earn them a seat at the table, especially when RISC OS Ltd. and other forces keep snatching their napkin.

 is a RISC OS Userguestx on 22/6/04 12:41PM
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To get the required PMT and RTOS capabilities will take so long that the embedded market will have moved on by then, so in my opinion that speculation is just pie in the sky. On the other hand, Castle are sensibly keeping exact details of their more immediate plans under wraps till they're ready.

I'll just file this in the "Woo yeah!" folder along with all of Steve Jobs' speeches then.

 is a RISC OS Userninja on 22/6/04 1:02PM
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Why should PMT be difficult for the embedded market?

The difficulty is PMT and backwards compatibility.

For embedded solutions, you are in control of all software that will be used. (Assuming that the apps you want to use are easily updated)

 is a RISC OS Userjess on 22/6/04 1:13PM
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jess: Is that in reply to me? PMT will not {IMO} be especially difficult to do for the embedded market. It will {IMO} be difficult to do *full stop*. I /think/ that PMT will need to be implemented in the kernel {certainly will if they're looking an an RTOS}, and that's a major change for any OS, let alone RISC OS.

 is a RISC OS Userninja on 22/6/04 1:25PM
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ninja: The "embedded market" is enormous. There is plenty of potential for RISC OS to be used without PMT, i.e. before it "moves on". And even if it does "move on", precisely what direction do you think it will take - furthermore, do you not think that this is the same direction that RISC OS development would take.

What's perhaps more interesting is that the areas which make Linux particularly useful in the embedded arena, are some areas RISC OS is pretty poor at, or simply don't exist. That is, extensive driver support, low-level protocol support (IP, etc), and the multitude of tools Linux has for doing, well, just about anything in an environment where you may well not have a GUI at all.

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 22/6/04 1:35PM
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I don't predict what the embedded market (if you can treat is as one market even) will do in the next 12 months, let alone however long it'll take Castle to produce PMT. I just reckon that it'll look significantly different. You're probably right that there's enough of an embedded market for RISC OS to be sold to make a profit, especially for a small company like Castle, though.

Some of the tool work and work in porting the OS to other hardware that Castle announced alongside Merlin probably does look more immediately useful, considering where the OS currently is. And I was surprised about their comment on IPv6, but maybe I've not been following developments closely enough.

 is a RISC OS Userninja on 22/6/04 1:43PM
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Is PMT not already done?


 is a RISC OS Useregel on 22/6/04 1:50PM
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True, but compatability with existing software wasn't stellar, and I wasn't personally too impressed by the improvments in responsiveness. I think I still run it when my machine boots, but I only apply it to a few known good programs.

 is a RISC OS Userninja on 22/6/04 1:58PM
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Mr Chocky. Sorry I put in too many ????'s

Do you have a FAQ anywhere that I can read on the drobe posting ettiquet.


 is a RISC OS Usernijinsky on 22/6/04 2:04PM
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if you look on the wimp 2 site there is a patch for red squrillil (and presumably VA) to use win 32 calls

one advantage is wheel mouse scrolling under RISC OS 3.7 :D


 is a RISC OS Userem2ac on 22/6/04 2:18PM
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This looks like a great way foward for RISC OS, and so much for my previous comment on yesterday's article! One advantage RISC OS has over Linux is size - RISC OS can fit a fully working OS with GUI into a 4MB ROM - Linux will NEVER be this small with a GUI. Also, someone mentioned the embedded form of Mozilla. I'm using Firefox (a 'cut down' version of Mozilla) to write this now and it's using 21,792KB of memory - 22MB! In the ebedded arena, this much space is expensive. Sure, memory prices are falling but more PDAs and smart phones only have 32MB of FlashROM storage space, let alone RAM!

I do like where this is going - Castle certainly seem to be whipping RISC OS into shape. I'm interested to see what happened when their modernisation reaches the GUI - to get ahead of the market they'll need Mac OS X type features; alpha channels, shadows, slick and fast animations. That's what will apeal to people when they're buying their new smart phone - they don't care whether it can multitask, or what goes on underneath, as long as it works and look pretty!

Well, here's to the furute of RISC OS 5!

 is a RISC OS UserSmiler on 22/6/04 2:58PM
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Smiler: I would object to too much alteration of the RISC OS GUI, which is surely it's selling point (I mean for the desktop). Like you say, users don't care how it works under the bonnet, so one assumes the GUI is why people bought Acorns. Personally, I think a great selling point is that the GUI is very responsive and easy to use, plus it's very attractive - without having to resort to animation and drop-shadows. RISC OS looks as good as MacOS X - MacOS X is more in-your-face, RISC OS is much more subtle.

 is a RISC OS Userarenaman on 22/6/04 3:22PM
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Smiler: "Also, someone mentioned the embedded form of Mozilla."

Yes, precisely to elicit this kind of reaction. No, I will never be able to run Mozilla or Minimo on my current mobile 'phone, but future generations of 'phones will have the memory to do it. It'll be easier to add a stack of memory to the device than to get RISC OS into the functional ballpark of doing all the tasks that an established and well-supported embedded operating system can do.

Meanwhile, on the "modernisation" front, I want my mobile 'phone to reliably send messages, handle voice calls, communicate with other things and generally just work. It's good to have nice visualisation of the goings-on, but as 'phones have become more powerful, they've also become more unstable, needing power cycles and other things done to reset them from dodgy states. When your 'phone reportedly needs a reboot because you've roamed between networks, who cares about alpha blended animations?

 is a RISC OS Userguestx on 22/6/04 3:27PM
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Smiler: please try and be a bit more informed before you post. FireFox is a fully featured browser - to say it is "cut down" is not accurate, and not the browser in question. That is Minimo.

Secondly - no, you can't fit a Linux desktop into 4MB. Nor can you with RISC OS, if start counting applications. But these sorts of numbers aren't actually that important - Linux systems can run on 32MB PDAs, but newer PDAs are 64MB or 128MB.

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 22/6/04 3:27PM
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I meant exactly what 'cut down' implies. FireFox is Moxilla with the extra features removed while still remaning a fully functional browser. However, Mozilla is an internet suite designed to deal with adress and email as well as web surfing - if FireFox is 28MB, then even cut down versions of this will stil be relatively large for an embedded system.

You say you like RISC OS as it is - so do I. However, Mac OS and Windows users, if they were introduced to RISC OS now would instantly see it looks dated and loose interest instantly - they wouldn't give it a second thought! Where embedded devices are concenred, the mass market do want fancy features like alpha-blending - that's what sells the device to them in the shop! That's what the *mass* market notices, not the sensible market, such as present company (otherwise you wouldn't be using RISC OS). I'm 16 - everyone at school wants mobile phones with cameras to show off - the fact the pictures produced are useless (bar one or two very new phones starting to have 2 megapixel cameras) doesn't mean anything to them. This is a major market - under 20s. I think I know what people of my age like!

 is a RISC OS UserSmiler on 22/06/04 3:47PM
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Alex: please stop trying to argue your case with semamtics. Mozilla was raised _entirely_ in the context of browsers, not the email/news/other facilities. Minimo is the only browser that could clearly and unambigiously be labelled a "cut down" version of Mozilla. And it is clearly what must have been meant, since, as you've pointed out, Firefox is still quite big.

I've not made any comment on how RISC OS looks, so I'm not really sure who your second comment is directed at, but I can assure you my interest is not "loose".

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 22/06/04 3:55PM
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Alex: It is very easy to make RO look up to date - even 3.1

 is a RISC OS Userjess on 22/06/04 4:09PM
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Smiler: "I'm 16 - everyone at school wants mobile phones with cameras to show off - the fact the pictures produced are useless (bar one or two very new phones starting to have 2 megapixel cameras) doesn't mean anything to them. This is a major market - under 20s. I think I know what people of my age like!"

And surely those 2MP camera 'phones are only currently available in Japan for 3G networks, although I'm sure nothing is unobtainable for the average BMW-driving under-20 these days. But you are on to something there: by the time the buyer has realised that the shiny device doesn't pass muster, I'm sure they're already planning the next purchase.

 is a RISC OS Userguestx on 22/06/04 4:11PM
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peter:The second comment was not directed at you and I appologise for what I said. I realise Firefox, while technically cut down (there are still chucks of useless Mozilla code in Firefox) Minimo is what was in question. Admiatedly, I don't actually know anything about Minimo, and I can only speak of what I know! Had I of known of Minimo, then obviously I might not of made this comment.

jess:Yes I know, shows how versatile RISC OS's GUI is. However, there are extra features which are not easily added which can make the difference between this phone and that one, to put it in context (such Mac OS like shadows and even just fading menus).

Guestx:The latest incarnation of Vodafone's David Beckham mobile phone has a 2 megapixel camera. Obviously, photos are not sent via MMS at this resolution, but they can be emailed to people.

 is a RISC OS UserSmiler on 22/06/04 5:03PM
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Ugh, no fading menus for me please. We do need these sort of changes though - if I were a betting man I'd bet that MacOS X has sold to UN*X hackers because it's BSD based, the MacOS heads because it's got PMT and improved stability, and to everyone else because it looks purty. Just give me the option to turn all the crud off, please.

 is a RISC OS Userninja on 22/06/04 5:14PM
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Which embedded/pda/phone devices have alpha blending and fading menus again?

The problem is, if we add those features we might get the idiots who want them using RISC OS, and then we'd have to support them.

Do you really want to make the text you're reading harder to read by making the background transparent?

 is a RISC OS Usermavhc on 22/06/04 6:07PM
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If you want fading menus, buy a cheap TFT with a slow response rate... ;)

 is a RISC OS Usermonkeyson on 22/06/04 7:00PM
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monkeyson: nice one!!

With regards to the RISC OS GUI and comparisons to MacOS X. In my humble opinion, the MacOS X GUI is a success because it has not been designed to look like another OS GUI. That's how it has become such a leader as regards OS GUIs.

I suggest that it would therefore be a mistake to try and make RISC OS look like MacOS X.

The great strength of RISC OS is it looks great without resorting to gimmicks. And for those who claim it looks dated, I'd love to know in what way. WindowsXP looks like a Fisher Price toy and the text is appalling - it has failed to copy anything good from MacOS X. The colours are garish (hope I spelt that correctly) and the overall display an offence to the eye.

MacOS X is bright, colourful and fun, but still looks and feels professional.

RISC OS is not bright and colourful, but the text is superb, the drag-and-drop a central strength and the colours are subtle and professional (comments based on first release of RISC OS 4).

The GUI is not an issue as far as I can see. It's some missing functionality, and then a lot of that is not precisely the OS itself, but what should be bundled with it, or made available - such as a fully capable media player.

 is a RISC OS Userarenaman on 22/06/04 7:23PM
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I am sorry, but CTL et al's announcement sounds to me as sheer pie in the sky.

If they had a sensible game plan, they would have told us nothing, as is their way.

This whole business smacks of he who shouts loudest wins, not because they are intrinsically right, just because they say the right things. YES convergence was not what people using RISC OS wanted to hear was happening to their favourite OS. So now the pundits and CTL to an extent are suggesting a path away from convergence..... So we all cheer, HOORAY.

STOP, look and listen....... CTL have been known in the past to acquire kit for knockdown prices, the Risc PC, A7000 kit from Acorn, for example.

More modern acquisitions include the basis for Iyonix.

So just because they have done deals prolonging the market awhile, does this really show them in such good light.

RISC OS Ltd, stepped in at the downfall of Acorn as we knew it and saved RISC OS for our tiny desktop market, CTL looked for a way to circumvent paying royalties to RISC OS Ltd, hence RISC OS 5..... and their continued sale of machines with RISC OS 3.7.

Without RISC OS Ltd, we would not have a viable OS at all, and CTL know this, but won't recognise this fact, hence all the Trumpet blowing.

I must say, there must be someone out there who sees this legal jockeying for what it really is...... A way for rich lawyers to become more rich at the expense of all. Do CTL's lawyers have any care for RISC OS of course not, they are only interested in lining their pockets. What possible motive does CTL have for it's own position. If CTL, as it claims, was interested in supporting it's competitors, it would have quietly absorbed the offending company, accepted it's actions, and moved on. But, and here is the rub, I don't think at the moment they could afford to buy out the 26% interests in RISC OS Ltd, never mind spend 7 to 8 Million pounds, putting RISC OS 5 right. Cannot you all see what is going on here!

 is a RISC OS Userjcmcculloch on 22/06/04 9:12PM
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I do indeed see a well orgnised company with some direction making public moves to unify the platform - can I assume you see something else going on besides? And for all this mentioning of Without ROL we'd not a viable OS at all - just exactly how much development has happened to RISC OS in the past 5 years (apologies for reiterating that time frame, but it's practically an eon in computing these days).

In reply to John 'Castle have been know to aquire kit for knockdown prices..' Dear dear me, that almost sounds like good business sense - perish the idea :-)

CTL the rumblings at the start of this debate, it would appear that CTL have gone (according to their claims) for 12 months without saying anyting. As to the idea of saying the right things to get people siding with them - now I'm sure I heard a name for that heinous practice somewhere, now what was it..argh yes, I remember now - 'Good Marketing'.

And (imho) their practices at prolonging the market does show them in a good light - any company in the RISC OS marketplace (and I do include ROL in this) deserves to be seen in a good light..

As for CTL avoiding paying royalities to ROL via RISC OS 5, I dear say Pace didn't simply allow them to use it for free, and I'm pretty certain that the outright purchase of the OS cost many times more than royalties to ROL would have.

With regard to last paragraph, it's unlikely CTL could buy out 26% of ROL shares as a percentage greater than this is held by the Management, or at least they were reported as such in ROL's last publicly available annual statement - anyone have the 2003 figures - despite my ardent curiosity I can't bring myself to pay Companies House 50 quid for a copy :-)

Anyway, daily rant over.

Regards, Ryan

 is a RISC OS Userdrjones69 on 22/06/04 9:33PM
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John McCulloch> I'd imagine RO5 was produced more to avoid running out of a compeditive processor to run RISC OS on - rather than any effort to avoid paying royalties !

I would agree, however, that initially ROL did us all a big service by saving RISC OS from destruction. At the earliest oppertunity I upgraded from RO3.7 to 4 and never looked back. ROL acchieved a lot with (let's face it) little resources. They (and Paul Middleton) deserve full credit for this.

As to Castle getting things "cheap" could you tell me who Castle got Kinetic off ? You've also missed a USB board for the RISC PC, a 100 BaseT NIC was in there somewhere too, and (although no doubt some of the work on Iyonix was done in Pace - who brought Iyonix to the market though ?).

Give credit where credit is due ROL did an effective job of saving the RISC OS operating system - Castle too have got RISC OS Out of it's biggest bind - the inability to be natively run on 32bit modern ARM architectures, don't damn Castle for it - because it's the only way of the hole RISC OS was in....



 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 22/06/04 10:15PM
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We knew ROL was doomed as soon as the talk of problems getting the hardware companies to pay for OS improvements occured.[

Without ROL we wouldn't have had ROS4, without Castle we wouldn't have had StrongARM machines from 1998-2004.

Without Castle we wouldn't have a 32bit OS for the future, without ROL we wouldn't have Select to upgrade our RiscPCs.

That's not the point, this is about the future.

 is a RISC OS Usermavhc on 23/06/04 00:40AM
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I think recent developments have been the most exciting thing to have happened to RISC OS since Black Thursday. Over the years since, CTL have emerged to become a very strong player in the market. They had already been trading for years before, so they have a lot of business acumen; they know what they are doing.

As long as the legal wrangling doesn't drag on, and threaten to throttle our market, I can only see all this as an attempt to drag RISC OS into the 21st Century, and give it the wider attention it unarguably deserves.

 is a RISC OS Useranon/ via on 23/06/04 02:34AM
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I also worry (to a point) as many do about the future of RISC OS 3 & 4. But my frustrating desire to see RISC OS develop, rather than being left with these wonderful as they are "ageless" machines to become stagnant in an era of the same vintage as Windows '95 & '98 which gets me to the point of saying.... "Move on". As for *Steve Scott's* comments, I couldn't agree more. If Castle can do it, we need the "Modernisation" that CTL is claiming to offer that will give us what we may assume to be next year's technology. In these Millenium years, we still don't have some basic features enjoyed by MS users! If we were to gradually shift over to the new ADFS 32 bit Iyonixs and it's "Modernisation" promise by the next 12 to 18 months, how much longer would it be before all this that we get soon and the 32 bit system itself is history to MS in 2 years?

Keeping up with technology? New Zealand MSN Telecom NZ news announcement tonight: Telecom NZ announces new $40 million high speed 3G mobile technology recently deployed in the US and Asia. The wireless broadband technology being six times faster, will enable video messaging, download clips from films, music, sports or information services with "live" television on your mobile by next year. How many other countries have this already? The RISC chips are on the Mobile Phones, maybe Castle's stage 4 Secret Plan is to include Mobile Phones? Now all I want is CinoDVD on my RISC OS, if NOT before I give in to a Windows machine, more or less likely before I give in to a new (RISC OS) Mobile Phone!! Cheers, Steve.

 is a RISC OS UserSawadee on 23/06/04 10:26AM
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CTL owns RISC OS. We're told ROL have broken terms of their RISC OS license so CTL says ROL can't sell RISC OS to ROL customers.

Are ROL customers going to be happy about this? No.

Will subscribers to Select/Adjust be renewing their subs with ROL? Doubtful.

Will ROLs current sub-licensees be happy at the current situation? No.

Will these sub-licensees be continuing to give ROL money. Doubtful.

So where will ROL be next year? Very likely bankrupt in my opinion.

ROL has put a lot of good features into its RISC OS. These now need to be placed into RISCOS 5.

ROL should give *all* their code to CTL, perhaps in exchange for royality payments? (ROL only have to leagally give core development code to CTL which isn't all the desktop features we like about Select/Adjust).

I don't see why ROL can't continue to sell Select/Adjust to those who want it. Just ensure the features goes into RISC OS 5 as well.

After they're operation in two very different parts of the RISC OS market.

Who needs lawyers.... :-)

 is a RISC OS Userquatermass on 23/06/04 1:01PM
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The subscription OS idea is stupid

buy a new OS for the new features.

IF ROL have the development power, why not put it to good use and develop FOR castle?

as for the 'transparent windows' and 'fading menus' 'idiots', that is what gets Windows its home users, people dont want a square boring design. this is why I liked RISC OS with the 3d toolsets over Windows 98. it was a very colourfull and non-standard OS, but now it does need to be modernised.

windows Longhorn 'may' be turning into a more realistic window 3d stacing system.

A new Java only computer is using a Desktop which spans around a horizontal wheel (instead of set desktops added to the right).

All ideas of the new 'flashy' desktops, which will get them sales

This is what gets NEW users into the system. if you got into mobiles, and people liked em, people would try out the desktop (if the other product lines were pointed out).

You all say bad idea, i say get some processing power worth of your opponants, and pretty it (after the background works done of course ;))

 is a RISC OS Userem2ac on 23/06/04 3:39PM
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Michael > Yes OS subscription is not a sane way of doing it - as it fragments the market even more than would normally occur.

As to the transparent windows, fading menus, and so on getting Windows it's sales - I must respectively disagree. Microsoft could use blank, shade of dog manure backgrounds and buttons shaped like the steps to Hades itself and it would sell.

They have a monopoly, people buy windows because they feel they have no choice - that all their friends use it and that anything they email or receive can (for some reason) only work on a PC.

You'll find to persuade people to change to *anything* else is an uphill struggle in part because most people don't know there are alternatives. Even relatively well "known" alternatives like Apple and Linux find it difficult (I had someone the other day inform me with great solemnity of how *difficult* Linux was to install on a PC, or so they were told, not so with modern distro's like Red Hat). Myths abound and everyone can see PC's with Windows - they don't get to see or try the alternatives and it's that which makes the difference and the forboding sense of lack of choice is the other - not the shape of buttons or the colour of Windows.

We need to get RISC OS "out there" and if it does appear in PDA's I suggest that Castle market it as a RISC OS "Lite" or something just in case they simply associate RISC OS with toy computers or something equally distressing. Better still put it on a good looking Laptop and I and many others will happly queue up to get one - and not mind about the shape of the icon buttons either !



 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 23/06/04 7:10PM
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AMS: "As to the transparent windows, fading menus, and so on getting Windows it's sales - I must respectively disagree."

Although this isn't directly about computer GUIs, can I point you at [link] which is an item about mobile phones. Of the youngsters (M-Agers) who use them it says "These M-Agers are very clued up on phone functions. They want highly functional phones and they give them a high degree of personalisation".

Although, as you colourfully say, all the transparent windows et al in the world are unlikely to affect the sales of Windows, they certainly do contribute to part of what a section of computer users want. These things should be there for those who want them and switch-offable for those who don't want them.

"I had someone the other day inform me with great solemnity of how difficult Linux was to install on a PC". It is. I have three boxes of Linux sitting on the floor behind me, only one of which would install on my PC. And, when installed, caused it take longer to boot up than when running Win 2000 Pro. And I could never get it to dial the modem. And I use Unix boxes at work, so I'm not entirely computer illliterate (ever if I can't spell the word).

 is a RISC OS Userjms on 23/06/04 8:11PM
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In Windows those sort of things are customisable (our sys admin *always* disabled fading menus on the Win2K boxes at work, and you'd have a hard time spotting the WinXP machines at a glance as he's selected the windows "Classic" style). Sometimes the customisation can get a bit much (it takes a while to get to that one feature that drives you nuts so you can disable it.... now that's time well spent isn't it ;)

Thanks for the link and regards


 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 23/06/04 8:31PM
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Easy to spot WinXP, it's the one that looks like 2k, but with worse icons, grey blob instead of a recognisable speaker icon etc. Windows 2003 has almost all that crap turned off by default, which is nice.

The public don't choose Windows because of the features, people only don't choose Windows. They choose a PC because it's cheaper than a Mac, or they choose a Mac because it's "better" than Windows.

Linux is easy to install in the same way Windows is easy to install, when there's no problems, when everything's autodetected. As soon as anything goes wrong every OS is back to basics, and it's whichever is easier to actually use that wins. If you actually want to be able to control your computer you'll need to learn how it works one day, and the simpler it is when you finally get round to it the more you'll like it.

 is a RISC OS Usermavhc on 23/06/04 11:09PM
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<AMS> "You'll find to persuade people to change to *anything* else is an uphill struggle in part because most people don't know there are alternatives" It's so true and a shame upon us that almost everybody don't know there are alternatives. I do agree how Microsoft could sell anything especially when there is visually little to none competition and the market potential "don't know" what else exists. I get the impression that in the UK and possibly the Netherlands, that RISC OS is publically and visibly displayed in a number of computer sales outlets? Unless I'm blind and I would love to be so wrong, there is only one in New Zealand and how many (if any) exist in Australia? I am not keen on the concept of network marketing, but what about the idea of network marketing for it's "$ poor" users (many of us whinge about it) to promote our product with some bonus scheme for generating sales of computers? This way, new comers to the RISC OS platform have someone who can support them in sales via local RISC OS shops, etc. etc. Possibly local shops and suppliers could register these (networking) sales agents as a means of being eligible for commission? Just an idea? Crazy idea? What do you think? Got any better ideas? Cheers, Steve.

 is a RISC OS UserSawadee on 23/06/04 11:16PM
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Laughable. To suggest Castle can viably survive in the ARM embedded market isn't just a pipedream, it's the dream of a naive optimist. There are already companies with 10x the staff in each of the possible embedded ARM markets, and there's no way in hell Castle will be able to compete.

Especially if they're trying to do it with RISC OS. See Palm/Netgear/Sigma Designs/HP/Compaq for details.

 is a RISC OS Userheds on 24/06/04 04:31AM
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First things first ...before Castle takes Risc os to go regions it has never gone before.. An intermediary is needed to futher discussions between ROL and Castle. It is stupid to allow ROL to die and loose all those Select resources even if they cannot be immediatly be merged into RO5. There must be one person in the Risc os community trusted by both sides willing to undertake this mission.

 is a RISC OS Userjlavallin on 24/06/04 08:35AM
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Oops hit 'Add This Post ' too soon!

A Castle - ROL merger would probably satify most of these companies customers (desktop and embedded). I don't have to justify this .....its just common sense.

 is a RISC OS Userjlavallin on 24/06/04 08:39AM
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heds> Of course if Castle *never* try enter this market we won't know how they would succeed (or not) would we ?

I'd also point out that they start with a headstart over their competition - they have an effective and competent OS in the mits (with full source), they have seasoned developers (both working for them and externally) and a user base who provide feedback (through their Merlin/Iyonix smartgroups and other forum) - Palm/Netgear/Sigma et al *don't* have that breath of ARM experience and backup.

No Castle are in a good position - RISC OS as an OS model may be more "comfortable" with some potential clients out there who might be wary of GPL, and may have concerns about going the WinCE route given Microsofts "history" - these two aspects could (and should) be exploited to RISC OS's benefit.

In any case we won't know until this avenue is tried - so why not go for it ?



 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 26/06/04 2:20PM
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Annraoi: You said it.

However they (Castle and ROL) should stop sitting behind their desks to wait for potential customers to pass by. They should go out and take the initiative themselves to sell their product.

That's were the problems are. That's what they don't do. Plus the fact that both Castle and ROL don't want to create an of-the-shelves product which ppl can add on their (system) purchase. They want to sell RISC OS on the manufacturor level. This gives 2 disavantages.

1) It's harder to do if you ain't got a final useable product 2) in certain occasions concessions have to be made. Decreasing RISC OS's visibility and therefor doesn't cultivate market acceptance of RISC OS as an obtainable and vissible product.

It's no use that a few die hard fans KNOW that RISC OS is used in a car radio or phone while the rest o/t world hasn't got a clue. Especially in our case, Desktop usage. Here vissibility is very important, even providing easthetically pleasing features can make or break a product.


Manu T

BTW.: Some ppl have really interesting ideas in these forums. Has any company ever considered trying some of these ideas or users to achieve these goals?

 is a RISC OS Userepdm3be on 02/07/04 2:06PM
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