I’m putting my support and my money behind Castle Technology for a very simple reason - I want to see the RISC OS market flourish, and in my opinion Castle is the only company with the vision, capability and credibility to make this happen. Examine the track records of the possible contenders:
Microdigital – the Omega is years late! Reliable sources close to Microdigital always seem to be suggesting that production machines are just around the corner, but as deadlines come and go, and in the absence of production Omegas, Microdigital seems less and less credible. There are Omegas at Wakefield it seems, but from all accounts still not finished – I thought all of the delays since Christmas related to copyright issues, but apparently not. They may have some interesting technology, but so far at least, have been unable to put it into production. And is this joint agreement with VA and RISC OS Ltd., their vision of the future of RISC OS?
Risc Station – also seem incapable of bringing their RISC OS laptop to market, and I can only conclude that their delivery capability is no better than that of Microdigital.
RISC OS Ltd. – four years on from the demise of Acorn and where are we? Still with a 26 bit OS, still constrained by Acorn hardware. We have Select of course, and the enhancements to the GUI are most welcome, but is this really the VISION for the future of our wonderful OS? I certainly hope not.
Which leaves only Castle Technology – not only have they have provided the RISC OS market with a new machine, available now, offering a level of performance that until recently, we could only dream about, but they actually seem to have a plan. They have developed a 32-bit version of RISC OS, and introduced a Hardware Abstraction Layer (HAL), changes that simplify the job of porting RISC OS to other hardware platforms. They have demonstrated that they are reliable, capable of delivering what they promise, and that they are committed to the RISC OS market. In my opinion their success is crucial to the future of RISC OS. We should help them shape a new vision for the future:
Bemoaning the lack of new software for our platform, many pundits, rack their brains in futile attempts to identify the next “killer app.” – you know, the one that is going to transform the RISC OS scene! I do not believe that this is a constructive way forward. It’s just not going to happen. Instead, we need to consider new markets. The desktop computer will, more and more, become just one specialised element of the intelligent, interconnected home. The desktop computer market is already saturated; major players such as Microsoft are investing their big bucks in growth markets, such as mobile computing and enterprise software products such as .Net.
W all need to recognise that if there is a “killer app” for RISC OS, then as someone here on Drobe commented recently, it’s the RISC OS GUI itself.
I believe that we need to ensure that RISC OS finds it’s way onto other key platforms, and we need to ensure that it offers compatibility with other platforms.
I would suggest PDAs and / or tablet devices as obvious platform choices – all MS Windows based PDAs employ ARM based processors, and it should at least be possible to start thinking about porting RISC OS to this platform. Penetration in growth markets such as mobile computing, might jut provide the necessary impetus to attract new developers.
I also think that future developments to the OS should focus on the GUI itself – e.g. a new generation of tools that might provide innovative solutions to the problems associated with effective selection and presentation of information.
I really would like to provoke a constructive debate on where we, as a merry group, are collectively heading, and what we can, and must, do to ensure that RISC OS doesn't disappear into oblivion. I'm donning my asbestos suite just in case.