@AMS: The reason I supported the Omega, was that in its finished state it would have offered a hell lot more processing power than any standard PC workstation (through the use of user-programmable FPGA-space) and back then we might have stood a chance to turn that into native software development. Now we are long past that point. The only way we can hope to get back to a state where RISC OS might be considered a fully-featured desktop/workstation computing platform, is by utilising the vast amount of open-source code out there and stick RISC OS frontends on it. The main problem with this approach is the lack of processing power to run all of this highly-abstracted code and the fact, that a lot of the speed-optimized open-source code is optimized for x86.
Don't get me wrong, I still like ARM a lot, but I don't think that we can get by with ARM-only machines, we will need x86-CPUs as well, and we need an API and hardware abstraction layer to make use of them within RISC OS. This way we could integrate the x86 into all popular RISC OS machines in different ways:
RiscPC: make use of the second processor.
Omega and Iyonix: x86-PCI-cards.
PCs: ARM code would be run through emulation or on a ARM-PCI-card, x86 code would be run on the host processor.
@all: The most important reason why RISC OS must become open source software to survive as a desktop platform, is that no-one in their right mind would invest into it in its current state, simply because its future is so uncertain. The reason why Windows and Linux are so successful, is that there is a guaranteed future for the two. If my company decides to invest in Linux or Windows, it is safe to say, that this investment will not become worthless through discontinuation of the development of the underlying hardware or the operating system. The same can not be said for RISC OS, not even if it becomes open source. But if it was open source, companies would at least have the guarantee, that they could implement missing features and fix existing bugs themselves, if official development should cease.