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ROL open share investment to all

By Chris Williams. Published: 5th Feb 2006, 04:02:31 | Permalink | Printable

Select subscribers urged to chip in

ROL motifRISCOS Ltd have gone public with their drive to fund future development of RISC OS 4 by selling shares in the company. The developers of Select are hoping to flog 50,000 shares to pay their programmers and to what managing director Paul Middleton describes as funding "the development and acquisition of complimentary technologies for RISC OS". Paul later declined to comment on what these technologies are, citing "commercials reasons".

The company, which is celebrating its 8th birthday, made the decision to allow more people and organisations to invest in it at the 2004 AGM. Paul also called on Select users to renew their subscriptions despite not shipping a product under the scheme since June 2004.

"The level of subscriptions is important, not only to provide funds for the work to be undertaken, but also to give accurate figures of the number of users who are actively interested in the work being done," said Paul.

"There is no point in us spending £30, 000 developing the next version of RISC OS if there are only 150 people who are going to buy it."

The company hopes to achieve a Select 4 release in May, in time for the A9home to leave beta status. AdvantageSix have been working on drivers and kernel updates for their compact computer while ROL focuses on making the OS 32bit safe and completing Select 4. A new version of StubsG is also in the pipeline and the team are said to be working on solving the SharedCLibrary issue. The situation is less clear on the Select for the Iyonix port saga. The company has claimed that it is struggling with the port because it needs documentation from Castle on how the Iyonix driver modules work - which they would rather use than reimplement from scratch. Secondly, despite the Iyonix Select Pledge campaign meeting its target, the company remains hesitant to commit to a port. At the South East 2005 show, Paul said his company was unwilling to distribute an "interim" release of Iyonix Select to subscribers as it was unfinished, although they may now roll out components that are known to work - such as those seen at the recent shows.

Paul commented: "Despite the encouraging level of interest shown on the Select for Iyonix pledge group, the current level of pledges is insufficient to cover the full amount of work needed. It is likely therefore that the first stage will be a limited release of features to users who have continued with their Select subscriptions and who pay a supplement. We will be contacting those who have pledged and/or expressed their support for Select for Iyonix setting out the options later this month."

ROL have managed to sell 500 copies of RISC OS 4.39 since April 2004 and some 6,400 copies of RISC OS 4 to date.


Details of share investment - from the 2005 company reports, each share costs £1.

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What I would like to know is what are the "the development and acquisition of complimentary technologies for RISC OS " that Paul is on about

 is a RISC OS Usersa110 on 5/2/06 8:42AM
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And the next line reads, quote Paul later declined to comment on what these technologies are, citing "commercials reasons". unquote

I suspect that if you are willing to buy shares you will be told where the money goes, so a letter to the Secretary is needed. Read the original ROL press release about how to get info.

 is a RISC OS Usernico on 5/2/06 9:19AM
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Seems like things are moving at last with respect to Select for the Iyonix though on a small scale.

Good new on the shares issue perhaps it will be a purchase of right to use a common SharedCLibrary etc.

Also anyone noticed that the RISCOS Ltd website seems down?

 is a RISC OS Userbluenose on 5/2/06 9:28AM
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OK Speculation time here.

ROL have stated that they are intersted in a share issue. Why?..... because they need the money for something. Obviously. One question is this... is it for existing workload. Well they got by on the standard revenue in the past. So I suspect that they wish to buy something new.

Now here is what I thinkit is and why.

They say "the development and acquisition of complimentary technologies for RISC OS". Well ROL can only sell RiscOS for the desktop market. Unless they owned it outright thay would not be ableto expand into "complementary technologies". Remember recent comments by JB? Castle would be willing to listen to offers for RiscOS.

Well. I suspect that is what it is and I would buy some shares in this.

On the other hand....The route may be something entirely different. They may be interested in building RiscOS to run on Intel ala Mac and sell the hardware direct. IMHO the best route, OS and HW revenue.

Regards Bob

 is a RISC OS Usernijinsky on 5/2/06 9:49AM
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Oh and note that the post says "the development and acquisition". So it si buy and make.

 is a RISC OS Usernijinsky on 5/2/06 9:50AM
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"... the current level of pledges is insufficient...", despite it being more than the number they said they originally wanted? If ROL have no intention of doing Select on the Iyonix why can't they bloody well say so, instead of trotting out more and more contradictory excuses every time? The arguments are now sounding as sensible as "because the little blue pixies told me not to". If he'd stuck to the technical excuse PM might just have got away with it this time.

 is a RISC OS UserSimonC on 5/2/06 12:32PM
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Interesting press release ... offering interesting points to think about. I'd like to look at the IYONIX Select one:

Well, first ROL said they want 100 users; now there are 100 pledges on the site a user set up (sorry, I don't remeber who that was). But it seems that ROL doesn't have enough. Strange.

And then ROL wants to contact only those who pleged or expressed their interest. (Well I hope I get contacted since I did express my interest but was unable to commit myself financially due to the lack of committment as for the results, i.e. what, when, how much). Why don't they ask publically as well e.g. via c.s.a.announce, drobe etc. to try to get more feedback.

But more interesting is the announcement that the users who paid for Select plus supplement might get a first feature set. Perhaps ROL could tell us what is in there and offer it to everyone at a reasonable price.

Dear ROL, please consider that there are quite a few IYONIX users interested out there who don't subscribe to Select since they don't have a system to run it. As I wrote the odd time, I'm interested in IYONIX Select but before I can put down money I want to know what I get when and for what price - and that not as statement of intent but as confirmed offer. Otherwise... or as it seems I should write: Thus I have to wait until the product is there to look at and then decide to buy.

 is a RISC OS Userhzn on 5/2/06 1:29PM
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SimonC>I must agree with you on this. ROL is quite apparently in no rush to produce Select for Iyonix. This is indicative of the sort of "support" we'd expect if ROL ever did buy out the head license.

If ROL spend the big wodge of cash they might have after a share sell off on buying the head RISC OS license then they'd probably have little change for anything else (e.g., development) - you'd simply wind up with customers waiting even longer for stuff that's already overdue because no extra developer resources would be available.

nijinsky>Interesting speculation. But here's the thing if you believe that ROL can't do "complementary technologies" outside the "desktop market" without having the head license then that would suggest that Castle were right in objecting to the "embedded RISC OS" development when that big legal wrangle came up last year.

As an Iyonix user I can honestly say I'd strongly suspect that *if* ROL bought out the head license I as an Iyonix user would be ignored by ROL while A9Home, RISC PC and Omega users get all the support (past history would strongly suggest this). If that ever happened I must say I would not bother anymore with RISC OS (I am *not* stupid if ROL got complete control of it then RISC OS would IMHO die sooner rather than later) - and Windows has improved enough that I could shrug my shoulders and say well I have to use it in work I might as well use it more at home as well.... fault Microsoft for what you will but they *do* publically publish their API's and in a fashion do support their customers.

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 5/2/06 2:30PM
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AMS: "fault Microsoft for what you will but they do publically publish their API's"...

I think you'll find they don't. That's one of the principle reasons why they're the subject of an EU antitrust trial - they don't publish certain APIs at all, to keep out rival media player companies for example. And now they've said that they would release certain aspects of code to enable the API to be worked out to individual developers, for $50,000.

 is a RISC OS Usermd0u80c9 on 5/2/06 4:55PM
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md0u80c9>I don't mean access to source - I mean access to the APIs.

Yes Microsoft *don't* give access to all APIs - but they do document *some* (the common ones). Whereas the *only* way to get any of the Select APIs is to subscribe. I can just hop onto [link] and get information on the .NET framework class library and so on. Now if I wanted to get something remotely equivalent on Select from RISC OS where would I get any such information for free?

Yes MS aren't completely open - but then apparently ROL aren't open at all. See the difference ;)

I really can't believe I am defending Microsoft ;-(, must need more roughage in my diet.......

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 5/2/06 5:11PM
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I hope Castle DO NOT sell the head licience to ROL. I see no evidence that ROL are even handed when it comes to supporting the Iyonix and Risc os5 they seem to want to sink it

 is a RISC OS Userjlavallin on 5/2/06 7:12PM
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Oh = thats nice critise ROL and I'm a bad user -

 is a RISC OS Userjlavallin on 5/2/06 7:17PM
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Things RISC OS Limited should be doing with the money from the upcoming share issue: * Develop a decent media player for all versions of RISC OS that plays all the latest and a fair handful of the legacy Audio and Video codecs currently in circulation. OR * Develop a fully featured Web Browsers with all the latest plug-ins so that will work on all versions of RISC OS, so that no web page is inaccessable to the OS OR * RISC OS 6 - a version of RISC OS that works on all ARM/XScale machines, regardless of maufacturer

What RISC OS Limited should not be doing with the money from the upcoming Share Issue: Under no circumstances should they buy the Head Licence to RISC OS from Castle, as that would be a monumental waste of money and leave them with no resources to develop anything remotely useful.

 is a RISC OS UserJWCR on 5/2/06 8:12PM
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Personally I think purchasing shares in any RiscOS company, is wasted money. The desktop market is virtually dead. 6000 plus copies in 5 years is not good.

Also ROL do not have, or seem to have a firm direction. From some of the comments made it seems features appear in RO as the whim takes the programmers fancy.

I agree with JWCR in that purchasing RO from Castle would be a waste of money, especially with the dire state of the market. I also think it is a waste of time ROL trying to do a browser, as there are currently two projects, both seemingly having stalled at present.

Anyone considering buying shares should consider whether they can afford to right off the money, as I see little hope of there ever being a return.

 is a RISC OS User2307 on 5/2/06 8:47PM
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Given ROL's track record with select I would doubt they could shift all the shares. It looks to me as though they are desperate for money. i.e. The subscriptions are not paying enough so they need to come up with some other way of raising money in advance. Still say £10 is not a lot to risk. Are people going to risk say £100 plus say a subscription, would seem like Risc OS is becoming more expensive. Still one has to be born a pure optimist to still be using Risc OS say maybe they will raise the money

 is a RISC OS UserJwoody on 5/2/06 8:54PM
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As an Iyonix owner and Select subscriber I to am a little concerned about the continued moving gateposts re- Iyonix Select but I'll reserve judgment until I here what is proposed later this month as then we will have some concrete information on which to base any judgement.

On the share issue I was thinking a bit more about it and it seems sensible to say plug holes like one unified USB, SharedCLibrary. Toolbox whilst at the same time expand capabilities like say universal video/sound player. Perhaps even a universal screen acceleration code would be good to have.

 is a RISC OS Userbluenose on 5/2/06 9:58PM
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People, it's obvious something more is going on than we are let in about, for some time now. Let's keep to what ROL actually said for now, since (like the article and bluenose said) there is a little bit more info coming soon which will add some more matter for discussion.

ROL have been accepting "subscription supplementals" for Iyonix Select for some time now, I believe at least a year. I'm not sure if they also have actually cashed in those supplemental payments. They have said they needed at least 100 subscribers to begin work on Iyonix Select, that's certainly true. I believe they have already started some work on it (as seen at recent shows) so it may well be, that in the process they became a bit more 'realistic' about the actual work involved and hence simply need more money. Seeing as what has been said so far, my guess is that the the first releases of Iyonix Select will not be the same Select as we're currently running on our RiscPC's. It will probably be based on RO5, although I've not yet seen any clear confirmation of that. If they can replace all required RO5 functionality in their new 32 bit RO4, Iyonix users can run the same version of RISC OS as the rest of us.

"The company has claimed that it is struggling with the port because it needs documentation from Castle on how the Iyonix driver modules work - which they would rather use than reimplement from scratch."

At last year's Expo show in the Netherlands, Jack Lillingston basically said that ROL may get all the support they needed for bringing Select to Iyonix. He simply said "It's up to them." I can only hope they are actually getting it.

In 2005, ROL seemed to have done most of the 32 bitting work, seeing as a beta of RO4 has been running on A9homes ever since. Unfortunately due to the priority given to the conversion work, it meant they were unable to deliver Select4 for 26 bit machines.

Personally, I can understand they chose to convert RO4 to be 32 bit safe, for whatever political, economical and technical reasons. What I can not understand however, is why Select subscribers were told nothing about that move, until people started asking questions.

People said "What's going on ROL, where's my Select update?"

Although P. Middleton did come out with some answers, I recall he did not clearly explain what happened to Select subscriptions' money, which subscribers surely paid to see RO Select developed and delivered, as usual, for their 26 bit machines.

One can only presume ROL have used that money to convert RO4 to a 32 bit compatible code base, along with investments made by Advantage Six. What this means, is that it is up to each and every individual subscriber to condone this action or renounce it. What seems clear at this point however, is that last years' subscribers need to pay again to gain hold of Select 4. Essentially, if you only subscribed to get Select 4, you need to pay twice for it, with the added satisfaction it will be 26/32 bit neutral. If you subscribed to generally see RO4 being developed, well I guess it's okay then, since that's what generally happened.

From the press release:

"subscribers to the RISC OS Select scheme who have not yet renewed in the past year, are particularly requested to renew their subscriptions as soon as possible. The level of subscriptions is important, not only to provide funds for the work to be undertaken, but also to give accurate figures of the number of users who are actively interested in the work being done. There is no point us spending £30,000 developing the next version of RISC OS if there are only 150 people who are going to buy it."

Is Mr. Middleton saying so far only 150 people have (re)subscribed?

Now, a lot of speculation is going on, from others as well as myself, about what exactly has happened in the past, what is happening currently and what this means for the future. I can only repeat what has been said before:

RISCOS Ltd should update their website and give clear and straight answers with regard to RISC OS Select, their stance on Iyonix and what the deal is with regard to the A9home. They should provide simple, easy-to-understand information on their products - no tech-logs from a programmer. Not just a press release once in a while on a very uncomplete and outdated website.

We can only be very grateful to Drobe, particularly Chris, for his recent efforts in explaining the various versions of RISC OS for the non tech-savvy.

 is a RISC OS UserhEgelia on 6/2/06 1:13AM
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I agree with the comments from JWCR and 2307.

I also may add...

Would many users really be prepared to buy $500 or $1,000 (or pounds) of shares instead of buying a new machine or new Browser software / MediaPlayer (Cino) software other software and support across the whole RO platform?

Is it really wise to continue with "Various versions of RISC OS", or should we focus on using any money to develop a unified platform?

In 1995, I bought my first and only RISC PC 600 when Acorn was Acorn, and had it updated in time with RO4 in the healing years.

It is now 2006, there has been a few new products and changes since RO4 was marketed and I bought an upgrade for my RO 3.5/3.7.

I have been reluctant (and in someways guilty), of not outlaying money for a nice new RISC OS computer, but I would rather buy a product than shares.

How many "Various versions of Windows" does Microsoft support and/or licence to, or is that just us doing that?


 is a RISC OS UserSawadee on 6/2/06 3:56AM
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If this is the start of the re-merging of the OS then I'm all for it since that's what killed development in applications and OS features. To AMS, good luck with Microsoft you'll need it since it's a pile of kack. Unfortunately a necessary pile of kack these days in the big ignorant wide world but not necessary in the home or amongst the wise.

I had a play with an imac the other day (in PCWorld ... shame on me). How anyone could see that for 10 seconds and then turn around and think anything but bad thoughts about a PC amazes me. Absolutely no comparison. What it did highlight to me was the now desperate need for a RiscOS facelift and multimedia capabilities (already mooted several times). Boy do those icon sizes need changing, we have ever bigger desktops but the 34x34 icons just keep getting relatively smaller. Presentation IS important since new customers are important. The multimedia and internet applications do not have to be microsoft compatible these days. However all of this is simply fantasy whilst the limited RiscOs resources are left to support 2 OS versions....suicidal madness.

 is a RISC OS Usermripley on 6/2/06 8:42AM
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All this talk of ROL developing media players, browser etc, is cloud cookoo land, they can't even finish their existing work such as the A9 drivers, or the Select for the Iyonix which has been in its present alpha state for almost a year - things that they have already taken money from people for.

Its pretty obvious that through mismanagement and gross neglect of their core market (Select subscribers), RISC OS Ltd no longer has a viable business model to be able deliver any future finished and useful products. In the past two years while subscribers continued to pay but have received nothing, and heard even less, ROL have been working on but not completing Adjust32 for the A9, they have been flogging off the work Select subscribers have funded as cheap copies of Adjust, they have also been selling, quote "thousands", of copies of RO4 and Adjust as part of Virtual-RiscPC.

However we are now lead to believe there is insufficient funds to continue to operate, and need to issue 50,000 more pieces of worthless paper, also known as ROL shares. All the Select subscribers to pay for yet another year of zero guaranteed releases, but even if there is one I'm sure most people are not aware that Select 4 on the Risc PC will not run any of their 26bit software without as yet unrelease Aemulor for Risc PC, and even then at reduced speed. Iyonix owners who have received no benefit from Select for over 3 years, not only have to sign up yet again, but have to pay a supplement on top to gain access to the very flakey and incomplete alpha quality code we've seen demonstrated.

We are being taken for idiots.

 is a RISC OS Userdruck on 6/2/06 9:28AM
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Sawadee and 2307: I might be persuaded to buy shares if there was any evidence whatsoever that it wouldn't be simply throwing good money after bad. To sell shares you need to be able to convince investors that there will be a return on their investment, and RISC OS Ltd. have done very little to convince anyone of that. The small numbers claimed for RISC OS 4.02 sales isn't a bad thing on its own, as long as there is a sensible and believable business plan for steadily increasing that number, but it only looks like continually going downwards. The arrival of VRPC should've given ROL a pleasant unexpected cash shot, but nothing much appears to have been done with it.

The state of the RISC OS market isn't entirely RISC OS Ltd's fault (there just isn't that hardware that's going to attract people who don't currently use it, or even to keep many of them who do), but they certainly aren't helping.

 is a RISC OS UserSimonC on 6/2/06 10:24AM
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Shares =Paul Middelton's retirement fund. No I'm just kidding. For what my opinion is worth. Paul needs to take basic marketing class. Every month you read on the usenet about some guy wondering if a strongarm will work with 3.5 etc...There are a LOT of people who are still operating the old OSes (me included).So why doesn't he simply lower the prices for people who don't have that many cash students,retired people, buyer of huge numbers (like schools) ? And no I don't want to send an email begging for a lower price! There should be a clear webpage outlining the costs and you should be able to easly pay if you live abroad and not feel screwed simply because I live in another country.That website is a mess. The way Iyonix users are being threated currently has a big feeling of incompetence surrounding it. Paul really has to act on it ,or perhaps the shareholders should appoint a new CEO.

 is a RISC OS Userhighlandcattle on 6/2/06 11:00AM
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Sorry, but I really don't want to wade through a large thread again to specify who I'm replying to.

ANY money invested in shares, be it RISC OS Ltd or a car manufacturer, should be money you are prepared to lose: the stock market is an upmarket version of horse racing.

I am very wary of this venture. RISC OS Ltd are asking people who haven't received anything for their last subscription to take out a new one and are now asking other people for money as well. I invest money in the RISC OS community by buying a piece of software or hardware from a RISC OS dealer every month. I am not, however, going to hand over money for nothing simply to support what appears very much to be a lame-duck company.

Micros**t do support two operating systems - XP pro and XP home.

 is a RISC OS Usercables on 6/2/06 12:25PM
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In reply to cables: XP PRo and XP home are one and the same. XPhome is simply missing one two features aimed more at the business network environment.

Additional flavours of XP are Media Centre, Tablet and 64bit.

MS also support Windows 2003 and Windows 2000

 is a RISC OS Usersa110 on 6/2/06 12:56PM
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druck: "We are being taken for idiots."

No more so than the original investors :-)

cables: "Invested money should be money you are prepared to lose"

Yes, but it shouldn't be money you *expect* to lose.

I would suggest that prospective investors examine the return on previous investments (none), the organisation of the shares (you would be buying 'C' shares, find out about the 'A' and 'B' shares), and also the business plan that should show a clear commitment to a process that in your opinion has a good chance of providing a return on your investment.

If, after that, you still feel like investing, please feel free!

 is a RISC OS UserStoppers on 6/2/06 12:57PM
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mripley>"To AMS, good luck with Microsoft you'll need it since it's a pile of kack."

I know it is and would not use it more than that which it is necessary. Thing is if ROL *did* acquire the headlicense for RISC OS then I am afraid I would view RISC OS on a road to oblivion and in *that* circumstance I would be pressured into opt for Windows.

I really can't see a whole lot of difference in running RISC OS under emulation on Windows or cutting out the middle man (as it were) and using Windows directly.

That having been said I would much rather see RISC OS being developed (even if it means the current split continues). I am *actually* happy enough with RO5. Yes there are some Select features that would be nice - but not at the expense of what RO5 already offers.

Regarding the share issue it's a matter of what confidence people have in ROL (and judging from comments here this confidence is lacking). Can ROL recover the situation - sure - but it'll mean they'll have to mend bridges and start delivering - the success or failure of this share issue depends on this I think.

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 6/2/06 1:37PM
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Hopefully the retail version of A9home will be released and Wakefield, along with Select 4. Perhaps then a little more confidence will be instilled in people.

 is a RISC OS Usersa110 on 6/2/06 1:47PM
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In reply to druck: "We are being taken for idiots."

Well, not really... it's up to you if you accept what ROL does for you ... erm with your money, istn't it?

Guess why all I can give ROL currently is my promise that I'll take a good look at what they will offer for the IYONIX pc ... or whatever RISC OS system I will be running for which they have an offering. And if the offering (perhaps IYONIX Select features set) is useful and the price is not outrageous I'll buy it.

As for generating income for ROL: I think it might help to offer RISC OS 4 at a sensibly reduced rate in order to get more users to upgrade from 3.x or 4.0x the 4.39. AFAIK currently 4.39 it is priced at some UKP 150 (the ROL website currently doesn't open to I checked a4 computer and CJE). That is quite expensive as an OS upgrade for such an old system where you get the whole computer for much less ... especially considering that is it a bit outdated since Select 4 is to come soon. And for the 3.x users they do need the ROM set to be able to run Select so that for them to join Select now to get Select 4 is too expensive I dare suggest... Perhaps the users thus rather keep that money and wait for the A9home instead of injecting over UKP 200 into an old Risc PC to move from 3.7 up to Select 4.

 is a RISC OS Userhzn on 6/2/06 4:52PM
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hzn: you make a good point regarding the relative value of a RiscPC compared with the cost of Select/Adjust: the latter will typically exceed the former. In fact with the benefit of hindsight, I wonder if it was wise for ROL to devote so much energy to refining 26-bit OS versions, rather than move forward earlier and faster than they actually have done. Whatever, we are where we are. FWIW, the only good reason I can see for investing in ROL is as an insurance policy, in case Castle decide to abandon ship: John Ballance's recent remark about RO being for sale at the right price alarmed me, I have to admit. Castle are by a wide margin the most professionally managed major RO company I have dealt with since the demise of Acorn.


 is a RISC OS Userbucksboy on 6/2/06 7:15PM
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To be fair on ROL, Adjust romsets have been 69ukp inc I think at shows during the latter half of last year. Obviously that's the benefit of going to shows, but nevertheless, I don't think we should hammer them for not offering good ROM prices for those prepared to go to shows etc (I know that many people can't physically get to shows).

 is a RISC OS Userarawnsley on 6/2/06 9:33PM
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