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Virtual License

By Peter Naulls. Published: 2nd Sep 2003, 19:26:45 | Permalink | Printable

RISCOS Ltd and VirtualAcorn team up

Due to popular demand, and following much speculation, RISCOS Ltd today announced it had reached an agreement with Virtual Acorn regarding licensing of RISC OS 4 for use with Virtual Acorn's emulators.

Previously, you could only buy VirtualRPC, which is now available as a standalone product, bundled with Microdigital's Alpha portable. Although for some users this has been a useful product, many others have protested that they already had suitable hardware - in particular, a laptop - to run it on. Until now, they have only been able to run the much slower VirtualA5000 on their existing kit.

With this new agreement, Virtual Acorn now have VirtualRPC-SE advertised on their site available for 159 UKP or 139 UKP as an upgrade from VA5000. The much higher price presumably reflects the not insubstantial costs in licensing RISC OS 4, as well as comments made by David Holdon on the Archive-on-Line mailing list that VA5000 was priced cheaply to aid its penetration.

As with the Alpha, RISCOS Ltd state that VirtualRPC is fully compatible with Select, given an existing Select licence (which you may recall is good for 10 computers). RISCOS Ltd also further state that in future "a special VirtualRPC version of the Select ROM image to further improve the Select experience".

There's still no networking support of course, but we've been assured that this is in testing, and that will be a welcome addition for many users. It also seems like that this will be a hot topic at the AGM next week.


RISCOS Ltd License RISC OS 4 for VirtualAcorn VirtualRPC-SE

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I've started a thread on this (on csa.misc) through google - so expect to see it about midnight !

The upside is that for people who already have PC's they won't have to buy another PC laptop (and WindowsXP license) from MD in order to run RO4, so this will take *less* money out of the RO market.

That having been said I have mixed feelings about this....

-- Annraoi McShane,

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 2/9/03 7:32PM
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"not insubstantial costs in licensing RISC OS 4"

But you can buy RO4 ROMs for 75ukp, so how much does a ROM image cost?

-- #include "sig.h"

 is a RISC OS Usersimo on 2/9/03 7:44PM
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How much does any piece of software cost? I don't really see the point of your question. The price is a lot more involved than just its media, or what it sold for in the past.

And that quote is out of context, as there's an "as well" following it.

-- Peter, drobe.co.uk

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 2/9/03 7:52PM
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I'll sit tight and wait for the Linux version, before I shell out that much :)

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 2/9/03 8:15PM
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I just hope Graeme and Aaron are getting the majority of the money and not ROL, although I doubt it :(

I expect this will be the last nail in the coffin of Alpha/Omega, then it'll be just Iyonix and Select left.

-- #include "sig.h"

 is a RISC OS Usersimo on 2/9/03 9:15PM
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This is great news - I always thought it was a silly idea to force people to buy a whole laptop just to run an emulator. I will be parting with money when networking support becomes available, though I am still holding out for a native RISC OS laptop. -- Simon Wilson, Boulder, Colorado

 is a RISC OS Userksattic on 2/9/03 10:04PM
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Peter ...

I think the point being made by simo was that 75 ukp buys you a chip, the copy of the software on it, /and/ a licence to use it.

How come, then, that the licence on its own costs twice as much as the above


 is a RISC OS UserMartyn Fox on 2/9/03 10:15PM
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It doesn't. The licence, a copy of the software, and VRPC costs about twice as much.

The reason is to encourage piracy.

A SA RPC is cheaper, 2nd hand.

I'd like to buy it, but I don't want to. And I hate laptops.

 is a RISC OS Usermavhc on 2/9/03 10:20PM
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Martyn: I'm sure VA and ROL will be very interested in your business model - perhaps you can drop them a line?

There's always someone that'll complain that it's too expensive, without regard to business realities.

VA aren't selling RO4 for 150UKP. They're selling VirtualRPC + RO4 + Bundled software + Support + Profit Margin + stuff I didn't think of for 150UKP.

-- Peter, drobe.co.uk

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 2/9/03 10:27PM
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Hopefully this will entice more people towards the platform now that their is "emulation" that runs the same version of the OS that "the real thing" (tm) runs.

I wonder if they will sell VRPC with RISC OS 3.7 as this would be better for people who don't want to shell out 159GBP for RISC OS4 version. I expect that most of the cost of VRPC RO4 is the OS.

 is a RISC OS UserAndrewDuffell on 2/9/03 10:47PM
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Except RISC OS 3.7 is hideously inferior to OS 4. So if we're going to use emulation to leverage the OS onto new users, it's a good idea to show off a more featured, stable OS.

This also means RISC OS 4 is available on something other than a legacy RiscPC (or similiar hardware). Pretty big news, imo.

Chris, drobe.co.uk

 is a RISC OS Userdiomus on 2/9/03 11:02PM
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mrchocky - I expect that most of the money is going to ROL, not to VA for support, profit, bundles etc. That's what gets my goat.

Kinda like Microsoft taking $400 from a $500 PC, for WindowsXP that costs $150.

dimous - you can't really believe that VARPC is going to bring new users? This is basically to fill the void for current users wanting a portable.

I don't think Castle are too keen on a 3.7 version.

-- #include "sig.h"

 is a RISC OS Usersimo on 3/9/03 12:14AM
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I can't justify splashing out the best part of 2 months pay for an Iyonix or Omega to replace my RISC PC.

This gives me a new option that will allow me to run the RISC OS software.

The real value for me is being able to operate it away from my desk.

-- Steve Knutson

 is a RISC OS Userknutson on 3/9/03 3:44AM
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To me, it's enormously good news. I can now sell into the timber frame housing industry a very specialised piece of RiscOS software which will now run in a window alongside AutoCad.

Already a pair of elderly RiscPCs are producing output worth 3m a year.

 is a RISC OS UserMartinD on 3/9/03 7:06AM
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simo: you expect based on what? Are you privy to ROL's figures? I fear this is just a guess of the sort that will be taken literally by others. Neither ROL nor VA would have done this deal if it didn't make commercial sense.

ROL did considerable work to produce RO4, so we're not terribly interested in your bee in your bonnet over them.

Nor am I sure what your justification for the comments about Castle. Castle are "keen" on RO3.7 inasmuch as they still sell machines with it fitted.

-- Peter, drobe.co.uk

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 3/9/03 8:06AM
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How will this effect the sales of the Iyonix and The Omega? I see allready people reacting with: " Great, now i can buy a pc".......

After all, who is going to spend 2100 euro when he can buy a pc for 600 euro...and 200 euro for the VA bundle.



 is a RISC OS UserRdenk12 on 3/9/03 9:05AM
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I think this is good news not so much because I am convinced emulation is a good thing for RISC OS but because the market has responded to what people said they wanted and is supplying it. It will be interesting to see how many of those people who where demanding this now come up with reasons such as "I will wait until ********** is available before I buy it.

Victor Shears, Maidstone

 is a RISC OS Uservshears on 3/9/03 9:30AM
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They might buy a PC laptop, which is fair enough, since there aren't any RO ones. If the emulation is good enough to be "two machines in one" that seems fair enough, although you obviously won't get the power on the RO side that you will with the other.

Unless the emulator performance comes close to a current top end machine performance (in which case we're in big trouble anyway) then the RISC OS hardware is always going to sell more or less as much as it currently does. The RiscPC might not, but it is rather long in the tooth now anyway.

Then there are the people who have PCs and wouldn't buy a new machine anyway, but might buy a decent emulator, so a bit more money coming into the market from them (including from whatever software they decide to buy to run on it).

It all seems to make sense to me, to be honest.

 is a RISC OS UserSimonC on 3/9/03 10:10AM
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If when they have included the full network support and the price stays the same then it will be quite a bargain. I will indeed be buying a copy. I will no longer need to lug my Risc PC around the country.

Those waiting for a RO3.7 or Linux version - yeah, in your dreams guys.

 is a RISC OS Userdansguardian on 3/9/03 10:10AM
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Of course, we need VA for Linux but when is someone going to develop a RISC OS kernel for Intel PCs - if that is feasible?

Edward, Reading

 is a RISC OS Useremf on 3/9/03 10:11AM
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Hmm - here's one:

I will wait until ***cash*** is available before I buy it.

Took the plunge, went to Uni and suddenly my bank account doesn't have all that much in it :(

-- Gunnlaugur Jonsson, Skovde, Sweden (yes I move around alot!)

 is a RISC OS UserGulli on 3/9/03 10:18AM
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This is brilliant new! I can finally get rid of my RiscPC and buy a cheap PC and still be able to run all my old software :-)

I was wondering if my RPC was going to last the time it was going to take me to save for an Iyonix but now there is a better option.

Thank you Virtual Acorn!

The other great thing is that there are potentially MILLIONS of new RISC OS users out there now. I was beginning to think that the RISC OS world was heading the way of the Amiga but this will really turn things around. ;-) -- Spiteman.

 is a RISC OS UserSpriteman on 3/9/03 10:44AM
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So that is at least one sale Virtual RiscPC has cost Castle then. -- Victor Shears, Maidstone

 is a RISC OS Uservshears on 3/9/03 10:59AM
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I would imagine performance (on a reasonable PC) to be a little better than a StrongArm RPC (maybe Kinetic level) but less than the new desktop machines - Omega and Iyonix. As such, it sounds ideal for laptops and small-form-factor machine (of which there are no native RISC OS units), but less so for people looking for regular Desktop machines. Which is, to be honest, as it should be. Filling a niche, but not treading on too many toes. Overall, probably a "Good Thing" (tm)

 is a RISC OS Userarawnsley on 3/9/03 11:39AM
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Hmm. For around a grand, you can buy a Dual AMD Athlon MP 2800+, 1GB of RAM, RAID, 100Mbps networking (add 30 quid if you really want Gigabit), a case, CD-RW, a sound card, an nVidia graphics card, 120GB of disc, and a copy of Windows XP Home. I think that machine running VirtualRiscPC would be a mean RISC OS box. Perhaps not *quite* as fast as the Iyonix, but certianly faster than the Omega from what I've seen of it, considerably cheaper, and you get perfect Windows compatibility to boot.

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 3/9/03 12:52PM
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toptipoftheday: Don't automate ambiguous things :)

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 3/9/03 1:07PM
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nunfetishist - I think there's a bit of overkill there - duel processor probably wouldn't benefit VirtualRPC very much.

Also, having used VA5000 a fair bit, it doesn't scale significantly with PC spec. For example, running it on a 2.4Ghz P4 with 64Mb Nvidia GF4MX and 1GB RAM is only margininally more useful than a Duron 700 with an 8Mb ATI. With this in mind, I think the Omega and Iyonix are probably safe for the rest of this year, at least!

 is a RISC OS Userarawnsley on 3/9/03 1:10PM
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Make that 2.53Ghz P4

 is a RISC OS Userarawnsley on 3/9/03 1:11PM
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Woo. Duelling processors. That's something I'd pay to see.

-- Peter, drobe.co.uk

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 3/9/03 1:35PM
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I was told at the Wakefield show last year that VirtualAcorn *does* gain from using multiple CPUs, as it was multithreaded. But I can't remember if that was an offical line or not. If it doesn't, fine, just put a whopping Opteron or Xeon in there for the same price. :)

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 3/9/03 1:42PM
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The price of VRPC makes the price of the Alpha seem a little more reasonable now.

Presumably, if the price difference between VA5000 and VRPC is not all accounted for by the cost of the RO4 licence, either VRPC is more complex than VA5000, or it has more support, or VA5000 was a loss leader (it did seem very cheap!)


 is a RISC OS UserMartyn Fox on 03/09/03 2:41PM
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I should imagine that a JIT for an ARM6/7/StrongARM is somewhat more complex than one for an ARM3, not to mention other odds and sods. I wonder how many laptops Microdigital will sell now...

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 03/09/03 3:43PM
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No more, if anyone is vaguely sensible.

 is a RISC OS Usermoss on 03/09/03 4:33PM
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Indeed. Esp. considering you can pick up something significantly sexier and just as powerful for half the price.

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 03/09/03 5:02PM
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It doesn't. The licence, a copy of the software, and VRPC costs about twice as much.

The reason is to encourage piracy.

A SA RPC is cheaper, 2nd hand.

I'd like to buy it, but I don't want to. And I hate laptops.

 is a RISC OS Usermavhc on 03/09/03 5:24PM
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What's this "the reason is to encourage piracy" point?

Piracy of what? VARPC will be locked to one machine and the RO4 ROM image will be encrypted, so you can't pirate the software or OS, or use a non-encrypted image e.g. RO3.7

Or do you mean piracy as in copying all your programs from your RiscPC to VA, as you would do if you bought an Iyonix.

 is a RISC OS Usersimo on 03/09/03 7:19PM
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*COUGH*. Since when has product activation or encryption actually been in any way effective? See Windows XP and DVDs.

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 03/09/03 7:21PM
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I wonder if they'd take my RO4 ROMS in part exchange.

 is a RISC OS UserSnig on 04/09/03 00:03AM
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