RISCOS Ltd. 'adapting to change'By Chris Williams. Published: 24th Nov 2003, 19:36:27 | Permalink | Printable
Select 4 future, politics and a fresh directionRISCOS Ltd.'s managing director Paul Middleton has this month told Foundation readers that his company will continue by "adapting to change and seizing new opportunities as quickly as possible". As well as sketching out a RISC OS 4 road map, Paul also revealed some as yet surprisingly unreported facts.
Leafing through the lengthy briefing, we're told RISCOS Ltd. decided not to fully purchase RISC OS from Pace because they figured they had already paid for an exclusive licence for the desktop market. Also, their September AGM reportedly went down a treat due to the absence of "negative attitudes that have been prevalent at previous years' events, when certain shareholders had sought to try to gain control of RISCOS Ltd."
Also, ROL's mission statement has evolved somewhat and now pledges to provide "a continued availability and route to market for the 26-bit version of RISC OS". Additionally, the Cardiff based company are hunting for new RISC OS 4 licencees and are aiming to support new hardware where possible. ROL's original mission statement and specifically that final clause, has in the past caused a mild storm amongst users as the OS developers have stuck with the 26-bit stream with no sign of a 32-bit RISC OS 4, for now.
In their defence, RISCOS Ltd. have blamed lack of any firm commitment from their licencees that would warrant the uphill task of developing a 32 bit RISC OS 4. Paul did admit though that, "such work would have to be undertaken at some point in the future."
Select future, RISC OS 5 flirting
Turning to RISC OS Select, RISCOS Ltd.'s plans for S4 include:
- Possibly, a replacement for ADFS, in the wake of larger and larger harddiscs
- Support for graphics cards
- Disc partitioning support
- Improvements to BASIC to bring Select's BASIC in line with RISC OS 5's. Nothing like playing catch up in a market this small
- One for VirtualAcorn users only: support for up to 16MB VRAM
- A new Filer which will include keyboard shortcuts
RISCOS Ltd. are currently in the "final stages of developing a new RISC OS 4 ROM set featuring the major new features from Select". The new ROM set will include DHCP networking and CD boot support. RISC OS 3.x users will be expected to pay 140 quid for a set, and from there the price scales down (depending on your installed version of RISC OS) to 75 quid for "long-time [Select] subscribers".
"Whilst the merging of Select and RISC OS 5 is desirable, it is also a lot of work", Paul told the Foundation readership, writing on the touchy subject of Select and Castle's RISC OS 5.
"Many of the Select features rely on changes to the kernel and the RISC OS 5 kernel is significantly different to the RISC OS 4 version. It is, however, our intention to make as many Select features as possible available for RISC OS 5 users."
"I have to admit to feeling a bit disappointed by some of the comments made", John Peachy wrote in his report on the RISCOS Ltd. presentation at the South East 2003 show, in this month's Archive magazine. Paul's Foundation newsletter echoes what was said in Guildford, as the presentation also covered topics like the future of Select and RISC OS 5.
"It seems we've moved away from the 'let's all pull together' point of view and goe back to 'they can do what they want, we will do what we want', which will be to the detriment of us, the users. I do feel at present that Select is heading up a cul-de-sac, but I hope I'm proved wrong."
RISCOS Ltd. also have other products on the cards: An illustrated Select guidebook, a printed version of the Foundation RISC User CD articles, the RISC OS 4 PRM CD and a "RISC OS updates CD". No RON, then.
Emulation under fire
In Paul's newsletter, there's no mention of RISCOS Ltd's involvement in the recent RISC OS emulation revolution although this month has been a month of whispers regarding the legal standing of RISCOS Ltd.'s relationship with VirtualRiscPC-SE.
We've learnt that at a RONWUG usergroup meeting earlier this month, Castle's John Ballance suggested that RISCOS Ltd. were "outside their licence" - according to Stuart Tyrrell of STD, presumably referring to RISCOS Ltd.'s licence to develop and sell RISC OS 4.
"At the [RONWUG] meeting on Monday, we were told that RISCOS Ltd. were possibly outside their license with regards to VRPC and some other IPR issues, and that me paying my UKP80 or so for each A6 I ship to RISCOS Ltd. was somehow robbing the RISC OS market of development cash", Stuart reported in a humble iconbar.com forum. A source present at the meeting later confirmed to us what Stuart had said in his online outcry and added John was "very candid".
"RISCOS Ltd is quite happy with its licensing of RISC OS, and that its handling of all IPR issues has been done with the full approval of Element 14 and Pace Micro Technology", Paul Middleton of RISCOS Ltd. assured us last week when we made a few enquiries.
Both Castle and STD, however, have so far declined to comment on what exactly John was stirring, sorry, referring to. Also, no roadmap or feature list for the next release of RISC OS 5 has been made public, although we've heard it'll be ready "soon" and at least include suitable bugfixes.
RISCOS Ltd. website
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