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jess: In my opinion, moving to a target platform with x86 architecture is the only way RISC OS will survive as a desktop operating system in the long run. It may be possible to postpone the inevitable by developing a new computer based on the new XScale design from Intel but for a long time survival the OS has to move away from the underpowered and overpriced ARM based computers. The ARM platform maybe suitable for embedded systems but is becoming a bigger and bigger millstone around the neck of the desktop operating system. Without serious performance increase and extreme cut in prices ARM based hardware is a dead-end. A desktop OS that can't playback a DVD, run an up-to-date webbrowser without taking a serious performance hit or support use of Java applications and/or Flash (I'm talking performance here) will not be taken seriously in today's world, except by a few die-hard purists that have yet to wake up from 1995.

Trouble is though, I think RISC OS has missed the chance already. Rewriting the parts that are in ARM code would probably take a couple of years by which time I'd guess those that are willing to spend money on new hardware will already have done so and moved to pastures new, be it Windows, Linux or MacOS. Even if the ARM code would be rewritten in C for example the OS itself would still have serious issues regarding multi-threading and pre-emptive multitasking which would be required to fully use modern processors, even the XScale is now moving towards multi-core which RISC OS will not be able to make serious use of even if a computer were built on that today.

Instead of making the RISC OS source hardware independent, time has been spent on making the OS 32 bit ARM compatible which would have been useful around 2000 but is of very little help today. For Pace and Castle this was and still is probably the best way for them in terms of development of embedded systems but for the desktop OS this seems to be little more than a longer rope in the gallows.

I've said it for several years now that in order to survive RISC OS must move to x86 based hardware. Nothing I've seen in the past five years has convinced me that by sticking to ARM it will ever be more than a very limited hobby OS for die-hard enthusiasts. If the numbers of users that have been thrown around here are close to the actual number the really sad thing is a new OS, written completely from scratch for the x86 computers would probably outsell that userbase in a couple of months, if only because of curiosity.

 is a RISC OS UserGulli on 31/08/06 10:41AM
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