RISC OS 4 and 5 to mergeBy Chris Williams. Published: 16th Oct 2004, 10:40:40 | Permalink | Printable
Er, greatExactly four months after Castle announced that they had terminated RISCOS Ltd.'s licence to develop and sell RISC OS 4, a move that paralysed numerous third party RISC OS developers and dealers, the two companies have announced a merger of their flagship products.
Negotiations between Castle and RISCOS Ltd. concluded on Friday night, after both parties finally agreed on a new licence agreement. This licence will see the merger of RISC OS 5 (developed by Castle and derived from Pace's 32 bit RISC OS) and RISC OS 4 (RISCOS Ltd.'s stream of the OS, developed from 1999 after Acorn was broken up and its bits sold off), a move that will reassure the majority of the userbase.
There are, as yet, no details on future versions of RISC OS, details on pricing schemes, no light on what this means for existing RISC OS 5 and Select users, nor have any roadmaps been decided upon, so we're looking forward to seeing how the new release cycle looks when it's drawn up.
"The new licence ensures that both RISC OS 4 and RISC OS 5 will be merged together, as soon as practically possible and that clear areas of responsibility have been established ensuring that duplication of effort is minimised," explains the Castle press release.
Castle will also continue to produce the Iyonix, whilst Tematic, their embedded design division, will focus on other areas. We're also assured that a "standard set of APIs" will result from the merger, which means that software can be written so that it works on all versions of RISC OS. RISC OS 4 will also be available for the "forseeable future".
We've also learnt that RISCOS Ltd. will have to hand their riscos.com domain to Castle, un-open source Printers+ (Castle were against the software being GPLed in the first place) and ultimately change the name of their company. The RISCOS Ltd. AGM is also approaching, which'll be an event we'll be following with interest.
While having one, united stream of RISC OS is a great achievement after years of uncertainty and tedious in-fighting within our delicately small market, we do have one concern: competition.
The competing streams of RISC OS was one of the only benefits to the RISC OS 5 and 4 split as it kept the development teams focused. For example, when RISC OS 5 !Paint could sort sprites, shortly after the RISC OS 4 !Paint could sort sprites, allow manual re-ordering and did a boat load of new things. This was no coincidence.
This merger should hopefully bring RISC OS technology together under one uniform roof, but importantly, it should also ensure that RISC OS continues to improve and moves forward - time will tell where desktop users fit into Castle's and RISCOS Ltd's future plans.
RISCOS Ltd. website
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