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Omegas, Alphas in users' hands?

By Chris Williams. Published: 22nd Jun 2003, 13:40:22 | Permalink | Printable

Sharing candy in Holland [Updated 9:50 23/06/2003]

Expo 2003 We've received a number of reports that MicroDigital have handed over a small number of Omega and Alpha computers to end users during yesterday's RISC OS Expo 2003 in Holland.

According to Bastian Moritz, during MicroDigital's theatre presentation, two Omegas and two Alphas were passed over to end users on the condition that they are aware of various technicalities and provide feedback. Products suitable for end users (that is, ones with working USB, networking and video) have no specific shipping date.

Henk Huinen, producer of artwork for MicroDigital and many other RISC OS related organisations, also confirmed that "the first Omegas and Alpha notebooks were delivered yesterday during the Expo".

In the thick of numerous searching questions put to MicroDigital during their presentation, it's reported that MicroDigital blamed the Press for misrepesenting shipping dates and not understanding their closed technologies like ARMTwister. We're confident that MicroDigital stated around Decemeber last year that Omegas would be with deposit holders in time for Christmas and so it seems, did a lot of punters present at the show. MicroDigital have conveniently deleted and 404ed all reference to shipping promises and their ARMTwister technology from their website.

We've also been informed that during MicroDigital's public presentation, managing director Dave Atkins commented that they'd say more if the press were not present. Archive magazine editor Paul Beverley and others then reportedly left the floor.

And the reaction from the crowd?

"The show itself didn't [bring] any surprises other than the 'handing out' of the Omegas and the Alphas", one show visitor has told us. "MicroDigital showed their new upgraded Alpha and it was interesting to see the improvement. It was much faster than the "Wakefield" model, which was also on display.

"They seem to have overcome the 2D graphics problem. Dragging a window across the screen didn't seem to be a problem in high resolution on a 19 inch flat [screen] panel.

"David Atkins also said that using a Samsung 1.2GHz [processor] is not an option at the moment. Not by choice but because of lack of interest from Samsung to deliver. But he also stated that when Samsung can/will deliver, they will certainly have a look at the Samsung processor."

Update [Peter Naulls]

I didn't attend the MicroDigital talk myself, being busy on my own stand. However, I did talk to a number of people who were present, and the upshot was that it was very much an own goal for MicroDigital. Here's a recap:

As has been said, David Aktins criticized the actions of the press, at which point Paul Beverly offered and proceeded to leave, despite representatives of two other RISC OS publications (not drobe) remaining. This started a steady exodus of people leaving the talk.

David was challenged on various technical points by a Xilinx engineer, and also over shipping dates by a representative of a Dutch company who had been promised a large quantity of machines in January. This deteriorated into almost a shouting match.

It's also been noted that "non-removable drives are PIO only". To tranlsate, this means that harddisks do not yet have UDMA. I'll leave you to work out the irony with this in relation to Iyonix.

A few machines were handed out to "those best able to report on problems". David claimed this meant that "machines were now shipping". I can't agree on this at all. It's great that they're finally getting a few machines to developers (or dealers), but that's all it is - identical to what Castle did with Iyonix when 20 or so machines were given to developers a few months before the the actual launch. If Castle had claimed they were shipping back in September 2002, they would quite rightly been laughed at.

As for the rest of the show? There wasn't anything in particular to report on - we hadn't expected any big product annoucements. There were a variety of user groups demonstrating various hardware applications, including a robotic arm. I had a second machine on my stand running X Windows under Linux on an Iyonix, and Castle were demonstrating their USB mass storage.

We'll have some photos up shortly.


RISC OS Expo 2003

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You'd have to be a bit woo-woo to deal with Microdigital, wouldn't you. We'd "say more if the press were not here"? The press misrepresented shipping dates? Personally, I got all the shipping dates from their Web site.

It's like one big April 1st joke. -- Michael Stubbs, Leeds

 is a RISC OS Userarenaman on 22/6/03 1:47PM
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This really is utterly ridiculous.

I suggest that all people with Omega deposits get them back. Not because of technical stuff (although it's extremely worrying that they aren't working properly yet...) - but purely because of the way Microdigital conduct themselves. The phrase "fucking idiots" springs to mind.

 is a RISC OS Usermoss on 22/6/03 2:10PM
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Ahem, no one forced MD to put up signs in the Epson show in 2000 announcing a machine that is yet to appear in numbers over 2 and a half years later.

In fact shortly *after* the original announcement they *even* "offered" people a cut price CD-RW upgrade if they ordered their Omega before Christmas (2000). No one would be unreasonable in assuming a launch was imminent (many did, and paid deposits).

How about on their web site (today as of 14:10; June 22nd 2003) and I quote *directly* "We [MD] also produce the world's first soft desktop computer, the Omega, which is the most powerful RISC OS computer yet built."

This is wrong ... full stop end of story. It simply is *not* the fastest RISC OS computer yet built.

Anyone who had dropped in from Outer Mongolia would (quite reasonably) from the MD site think the machine (a). was available and (b). is the fastest RISC OS machine - neither statement is true and the site could be best described as "misleading" (ok, so I am in a charitible mood).

I'll leave it to others to decide if there is better turn of phrase than misleading that might apply to MD's activities.

-- Annraoi McShane,

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 22/6/03 2:20PM
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"******* misleading"? :-)

 is a RISC OS Usermoss on 22/6/03 2:22PM
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 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 22/6/03 2:30PM
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By the way did anyone keep a "copy" of any of the web pages from MD's Newsdesk.

Maybe I'll just toddle off the google and see what postings turn up....

-- Annraoi McShane,

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 22/6/03 2:32PM
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Try www.archive.net

Also, has anyone heard of the month Decemember before? ;)

--------- Wasssssssssuuuuuuupppppppp?

 is a RISC OS Userrusstarbox on 22/6/03 2:47PM
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Thanks Russ, yep December figures large in MD's plans every year (apparently).

-- Annraoi McShane,

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 22/6/03 2:53PM
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Actually the link is web.archive.org, darned useful tool too (just enter the www.microdigital.co.uk in the text box and relive all the fun ....).

-- Annraoi McShane,

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 22/6/03 3:02PM
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Yes, was looking there earlier (google cache has emptied :-( )

Still broken as ever though (archive.org) -- Ian Hawkins (g0tai)

 is a RISC OS Userpiemmm on 22/6/03 3:07PM
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Bah. Bloody censorship ;)

Is this an appropriate moment to get back into the discussion about how poor Microdigital's website is?

 is a RISC OS Usermoss on 22/6/03 3:12PM
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Funny www.archive.org worked for me a few minutes ago.... (at the moment I am on a PC (I know calm down guys)) and it worked ok.

Specifically [link]*/[link]

It gives a time line (the * entries seem to be ones where substantial changes happened).

And Moss the early MD web sites qualify as war crimes !

-- Annraoi McShane,

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 22/6/03 3:15PM
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Yes, but unfortunately, try and drill down to their news section and you get a 'our serves our broken' message :-/

-- Ian Hawkins (g0tai)

 is a RISC OS Userpiemmm on 22/6/03 3:20PM
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well at least they've shipped some

<always_look_on_the_bright_side_of_life> <reality>

most powerful?

well with ARMtwister and a maths co-pro it will make a better bish of encoding MP3s...

However its PCI is old skool (you'll never get ultra320 SCSI (or serial ATA if you are being cheap) with an omega...

Its memory is as bad (cheap PC components? - kiss my chuddies, its just like the RiscPC, PC memory but of a seriously outdated flavour...).

And ARMtwister - not the route to go down.

So its all pants really - almost 3 years worth...

 is a RISC OS Userepistaxsis_RISC OS on 22/6/03 3:25PM
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Yep I seen that too, but there is a way in, hang on I'll post the URL for the ones that work, hang on...


That's one for June 7th 2001, I just clicked on Newsroom and then went in.

Are there specific ones that cause a problem ?

-- Annraoi McShane,

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 22/6/03 3:25PM
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The latest archived one. They use some weird javascript, so it *might* be that.

-- Ian Hawkins (g0tai)

 is a RISC OS Userpiemmm on 22/6/03 3:31PM
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Here's an anagram for you: I fit iron dick.



I fit iron dick: Frickin' idiot

No relevance, just funny. (o: -- jymbob. (llama)

 is a RISC OS Userjymbob on 22/6/03 3:32PM
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[ [link] (google.com) - Ed]

Just click on the 'google cached' copies of the page, and away you go!

-- Ian Hawkins (g0tai)

 is a RISC OS Userpiemmm on 22/6/03 3:34PM
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Thanks for that Ian, yes I had the same problem as you with the archive one.

-- Annraoi McShane,

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 22/6/03 3:37PM
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I wonder if they have any money to pay deposits back, or whether it's all been spent on wages and 'development'?

Microdigital have done nothing but damage to the RISC OS market - they've made it look incompetent by putting themselves across as a major player and failing to deliver; they've conducted themselves in a way most people could only dream up whilst under the influence of drugs or alcohol (what on-RISC OS user would consider entering this market if they'd followed the Omega saga?); they've taken money from the market and they've no doubt prevented many IyonixPC sales by the ever-faithful (or desparate) holding out for the Omega.

Very sad situation. A general refusal to acknowlege the existence of the company and their vapourware would be just deserts for the way they've treat the RISC OS market.

 is a RISC OS Userarenaman on 22/6/03 4:04PM
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-- Martin Dixon, LEICESTER

 is a RISC OS Usermrtd on 22/6/03 5:54PM
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I'm glad I bought an Iyonix!

-- Martin Dixon, LEICESTER

 is a RISC OS Usermrtd on 22/6/03 5:55PM
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Maybe a while ago, the userbase should have lashed out against MD, but now that they might actually produce something, then it would not be in our best interests.

Like it or not, the platform desperatly needs new development, if MD can supply that (not saying they can), then we may as well hear them out.

It's a shame for MD that their PR is so horribly lame, and that there is so much BS coming from them, that it will certainly affect sales of the Omega, it would be so much nicer if the standard of the product was allowed to dictate it's success. They only have themselves to blame of course.


 is a RISC OS Userthegman on 22/6/03 7:08PM
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It became obvious last January that MD were not going to be able to live up to their promises. It then took 2 months to get my money back. Only threats of legal action seemed to have any effect. Two recorded delivery letters were returned to me by the post office.

MD 'Newsdesk' dated 26 Nov 2002 says "..the Omega is now in production. We should be shipping very soon, with machines on their way in time for Xmas 2002....". I took a hard copy to back up my legal action. Need I say more.


 is a RISC OS UserEddie on 22/6/03 7:42PM
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The Google cache has just about every page in it worth reading regarding ARMTwister and Omega shipping dates.

404 errors are not very professional looking.

-- Andrew Harmsworth, Cambridge. www.gcse.com owner and author

 is a RISC OS Userharmsy on 22/6/03 8:06PM
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It's sad that all this could be avoided by them simply apologising and talking to the userbase. I think if they had said 'Sorry, we were wrong about how long development would take.' there would not be such hostility towards them.


 is a RISC OS Userthegman on 22/6/03 9:04PM
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Exactly. If they actually apologised, and talked to the userbase and the *press*, there wouldn't be any problems.

 is a RISC OS Usermoss on 22/6/03 9:35PM
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arenaman, "(what on-RISC OS user would consider entering this market if they'd followed the Omega saga?)" i did , for about 8 months ago.

"they've taken money from the market and they've no doubt prevented many IyonixPC sales by the ever-faithful (or desparate) holding out for the Omega."

Basic economy: a market with only one player is a dead market. read keynes on that subject. Futhermore your assumption that every omega-buyer would go for an Iyonix if that was the only machine around is wrong.Simply the fact that there is an second machine comming up will keep people in the risc os market. Choice is what is making a market vivid. If you dont like the way MD is handeling things.... well buy an Iyonix. You have the choice. And yes they will not win a price for good PR. But they realized their mistakes in the past.

I have spoken in person with David Atkins. And i am impressed of what he is trying to do. MD is building a machine which have never been build before. And that means a lot of trial and error. They should get respect for that instead of a lot of negative comments. they are not HP or Apple.


 is a RISC OS Userrdenk on 22/6/03 9:51PM
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> i did , for about 8 months ago.

I felt exactly the same as you, 8 months after I re-entered the market. After about 24 months, I'm *slightly* disallusioned with MD ;-)

 is a RISC OS Usermoss on 22/6/03 10:05PM
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rdenk - so how much are they paying you for this?

Omega is almost 3 YEARS behind.

OK writing your own version of IOMD & VIDC without Acorn's knowledge base is a mammoth task but promising and not delivering is absolute pants.

Iyonix is very far from perfect (no SCSI or PCI (as yet...) and the graphics are no better than a viewfinder)

no select either - but is that really an issue?

There is only 1 "..most powerful ever" RISC OS computer on the market and that with all my misgivings is Iyonix.


MD have fecked themselves bigstyle.

"announce a new RISC OS machine in haste, repent at leisure"

applies to others as well...

 is a RISC OS Userepistaxsis_RISC OS on 22/6/03 10:07PM
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Hi fella's

It was nice at Acorn expo. Though I still find that the RISCOS prices both on software and hardware are completely unrealistic. I mean 75 EURO for a lousy PS2 Y-adaptor is REALLY over the edge. Not to mention the 149 Euro they're charging (showprice) for JUST the browser (oregano2-cd). Then there was the Omega. Oh boy... is this guy full o's*** or what? Could you believe they're asking 3000 Euro for an Amiga... ooops... Omega with 1GHz cpu... ofcourse that 1GHz cpu is still a fantasy in MD's mind. And I though 2100 Euro for an Iyonix was over the top... And then there's RISCOS... at one point I just thought: "Oh well get those 4.02 roms and be done with it"... but then again I remember complaining about that 4.03 addressed absolutely NOTHING of what I wanted to see in RISCOS. Select (notebly ROS4.3) that's a different story. So in fact that means that I'm willing to get ROS 4 but ONLY the select version that adds what I want!!

At least the Iyonix was there, I could play with it... and it was fast... real fast. That's a good sign isn't?

 is a RISC OS Userepdm2be on 22/6/03 11:05PM
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