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Discussion and Negotiation

By Peter Naulls. Published: 16th Jun 2004, 18:07:20 | Permalink | Printable

RISCOS Ltd's Response

Drobe.co.uk understands that RISCOS Ltd's managing director Paul Middleton is away this week, and is therefore not immediately available to answer phone calls or emails, either in reply to Castle's announcement earlier today or other matters. However, this communication from Paul did reach us this evening, and we've published it in full below.

"RISCOS Ltd has always adhered to all the conditions of the Head Licence and totally refutes all allegations now made by Castle Technology Ltd to the contrary," Paul states in his company's response.

"It is greatly saddened by the attitude that Castle has taken which has forced A6 and Virtual Acorn to reluctantly announce that they are ceasing shipments of their fully licensed and paid for RISC OS products"

In the meantime, speculation over the specific nature of the disagreements and historical background has run rife, with those who know the most saying little - most notably, the RISCOS Ltd shareholders.



In March 1999 RISCOS Ltd entered into a licensing agreement with Element14 Ltd which gave it exclusive rights to develop and market RISC OS for the desktop market.

Over the past five years it has licensed RISC OS 4 to many AMSes including Castle Technology Ltd, RiscStation, Microdigital, A6 and Virtual Acorn without any concerns from Element14 or Pace PLC that it was breaching the agreement in any way.

RISCOS Ltd has always adhered to all the conditions of the Head Licence and totally refutes all allegations now made by Castle Technology Ltd to the contrary. It is greatly saddened by the attitude that Castle has taken which has forced A6 and VirtualAcorn to reluctantly announce that they are ceasing shipments of their fully licensed and paid for RISC OS products.

A considerable amount of discussion and negotiation has actually taken place between Castle, Pace and RISCOS Ltd over the past two years, concerning both Castle's ongoing disputed use of RISC OS in the Iyonix PC as well as the more recent demands made by Castle against RISCOS Ltd and the AMSes.

RISCOS Ltd has worked for the benefit of all the companies in the RISC OS community (not just one) and will continue to do so. It trusts that Castle will constuctively discuss the situation to enable an equitable and amicable resolution to be reached for the good of all parties.

Paul Middleton
Managing Director
RISCOS Ltd



Links


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Discussion

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<fx: zero surprise>

At least this release is slightly more nicely worded, with less name calling than CTL's.

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 16/6/04 6:13PM
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Well, I'm surprised. I didn't expect PM to make a public statement so soon, although it doesn't contain anything I didn't expect it to. I agree with Rob though - I did expect this to contain a lot of petty squabbling.

 is a RISC OS Userninja on 16/6/04 6:18PM
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Although the "Castle's ongoing disputed use of RISC OS" is a bit of surprise. I thought that had been settled once and for all with the Pace buyout?

 is a RISC OS UserJaffa on 16/6/04 6:19PM
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Nah, I think the dispute only arose after the buyout, and though it had gone quiet I don't recall it ever getting resolved. I can't say I understand ROL's point on this one though, unless they reckon their sublicense gives them *exclusive* right to the desktop market.

 is a RISC OS Userninja on 16/6/04 6:22PM
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No new news although I'm surprised that ROL took the opportunity to again attack RISC OS on Iyonix. Interesting to see that even Paul can't remember if it's RISCOS Ltd or RISC OS Ltd though ;)

 is a RISC OS UserSparkY on 16/6/04 6:23PM
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So, ROL still think that Castle are in the wrong for releasing RISC OS 5 on the Iyonix. What ongoing dispute, Castle own the Operating System, end of story.

 is a RISC OS UserJWCR on 16/6/04 6:24PM
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I suppose this has been coming to a head for sometime, and became inevitable when Castle bought the licence from Pace. My own feeling, and it hasn't changed since Castle brought out Version 5, is that RiscOS Ltd will always struggle against a company that has its own hardware and software, plus the ability to still attract income from the legacy market.

Since Castle have decided to go their own way (thinking also of USB), I decided to stay with our RiscPCs (4) and use VA on our HP laptop. We are all very happy in this house, and are also happy with RiscOS Ltd, Simtec, STD, etc, who are still supporting us admirably. It is unfortunate that they may be affected by this fall out, and I for one think even less of Castle than I did before.

Geoff Potter

 is a RISC OS UserGeoffP on 16/6/04 6:25PM
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Why would it be settled by the buyout? IIRC the original agreement also prohibited Element 14 and later Pace from re-entering the RISC OS desktop market without paying RISC OS Ltd.

 is a RISC OS UserJGZimmerle on 16/6/04 6:27PM
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GeoffP: The USB arguement has been done to the death and their are valid reasons on both sides, although there's no doubt that situation is a shame. I see nothing in your post to explain why you think badly of Castle, except that Castle have a stronger position in the market than ROL - this is business, not a charity.

 is a RISC OS UserSparkY on 16/6/04 6:28PM
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This is a remarkably well worded statement that says all the right things. I'm impressed that ROL are fighting there corner so well.

The whole situation is depressingly like a divorce between two people who, individually, are thoroughly nice but just can't live with each other any more. Alas, we, the children are the ones suffering unfairly. (Isn't it always the way). One suspects that what they are actually squabbling over is, dare I say it, trivial - (wouldn't we all like to know what exactly ?) - as with all bust ups in relationships.

I'm saddened that this is starting to look like something that is going to be painful and drawn out. If this isn't a cut and dried legal case then both parties and their lawyers need to thrash this out around a table. The last thing we need is a long and drawn out legal dispute.

 is a RISC OS Usermartin on 16/6/04 6:28PM
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"Since Castle have decided to go their own way (thinking also of USB)"

Didn't Castle adopt the USB enhancements added by Pace into the RISC OS core while STD "went their own way"....?

 is a RISC OS Usermarkee174 on 16/6/04 6:28PM
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Let's hope things are sorted out quickly and everyone is a winner! RISC OS Ltd has done well post Acorn.

 is a RISC OS UserMac9 on 16/6/04 6:32PM
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Yeah, I think RISC OS Ltd and Castle have both done well with the products they've released.

I hope that this situation is resolved amicably.

 is a RISC OS Userflypig on 16/6/04 6:36PM
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Whilst not directly the same, it sounds to me like both Castle and ROL have been taken a page out of the pages of SCO, IBM and Novells book and decided to have a go themselves

 is a RISC OS Usersa110 on 16/6/04 6:42PM
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Maybe the absence of mud-flinging in this press release is an indicator that discussions could take place and the issues resolved cleanly. Who knows?

Really though, we oughtn't speculate. As Rob has been saying for a few hours now, we really need more info. And it's not people like me that have been affected - it's people like Stuart and Aaron that are caught in the crossfire while trying to make a decent fist of a tricky situation.

 is a RISC OS Userninja on 16/6/04 6:59PM
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In reply to JWCR

Prior to Castle owning RISCOS only RISCOS Ltd had exclusive access to the source code. Therefore if RO5 was developed before they bought RISCOS they are in breach of licensing. Unless of course RO5 was developed without any reference to the original source code ( not !!!)

Things are not as clear as they may seem so put your pro CTL bias to the side and allow the legalities to sort themselves out.

regards,

Malcolm

 is a RISC OS Usermripley on 16/6/04 7:30PM
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and Pace, your comment makes little sense.

 is a RISC OS Usermavhc on 16/6/04 8:28PM
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What shocks me most in these situations is both company's lack of website updates. The web is an instant medium FFS, they should both have these statements immediately available to customers.

 is a RISC OS Userrusst on 16/6/04 8:43PM
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ruust: Castle's statement is on the Iyonix site in the news section.

 is a RISC OS UserSparkY on 16/6/04 8:47PM
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Maybe ROL have something?

Didn't I read a posting by someone on Drobe which talked about a rumour of ex-Pace ppl giving Pace source code to Castle illegally?

 is a RISC OS Userquatermass on 16/6/04 9:14PM
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Well obviously they both think they have something, and they probably both do, the lawyers who design contracts make them obscure and open to interpretation so that they can make more money defending them when the time comes. It's like selling light blubs that don't last forever.

Castle say they own ROS, ROL say they don't, money isn't exchanged as excepted by one party.

If ROL thought Castle owned ROS why would they mention Pace?

I like how ROL talk about owners of ROS being E14 and Pace, and then the sub licences being Castle. Sneaky.

"Castle's ongoing disputed use of RISC OS in the Iyonix PC" and "benefit of all the companies in the RISC OS community (not just one)" are good too.

 is a RISC OS Usermavhc on 16/6/04 9:47PM
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Quatermass: I think it's clear that RO 5 is the PACE (in-house) version of RO, separately licensed to CTL by PACE. Rumours of source code being illegally gained are, IMHO, just silly. Every Iyonix comes with (came with?) a piece of paper explaining PACE's ownership of the IPR - surely PACE would not have tolerated that if it wasn't true?

What is less clear is whether PACE had the right to license it as ROL may have previously been granted an *exclusive* desktop licence (including the right to sub-license to others). ROL might justifiably believe it was owed some royalties somewhere along the line.

This latter is further complicated by the fact that the PACE and CTL rights are now all with CTL. It's a soap-opera this one, let's just hope the script writers have a happy ending in mind :-)

 is a RISC OS UserTonyStill on 16/6/04 10:00PM
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mavhc: "Castle say they own ROS, ROL say they don't"

Where did ROL say that Castle don't own RISC OS? ROL have said that ROL has abided by all conditions of the head license, and that Castle's use of RISC OS in the Iyonix is "disputed". They nowhere say that Castle don't own RISC OS, or the head license. (This is just yet another red herring put about by people who don't know what they're talking about).

On a separate matter, contrary to what the above Drobe article currently says (it may change later), several RISCOS Ltd shareholders have already stated their views on Drobe.

dgs

 is a RISC OS Userdgs on 16/6/04 10:13PM
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It's amazing how quickly ROL have become the good guys and Castle the nasty big corporate. I can see the merits of both sides, TBH.

ROL have, obviously, spent a lot of time evolving RISC OS to the current Adjust flavour. Castle ditto to RO5. Adjust, though, just marks time on rapidly tiring hardware (Omega excepted, possibly), whereas RO5 has broken the link back to Acorn corporate stupidities of a decade and a half ago.

I, for one, would like to see the two prongs of the fork merge again. If it takes Castle to force the merger, then so be it.

Also, if Castle's Merlin project leads to an open evolution of the OS, rather than a secret and secretive one, a small round of applause is necessary.

(There does seem to be a myth developing that Paul Middleton singlehandedly rescued RISC OS, though, which doesn't gel with my memory of events at the time.)

 is a RISC OS Usermikeg on 16/6/04 10:25PM
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Hopefully not another black <insert favourite day_of_week>

 is a RISC OS Userpiemmm on 16/6/04 10:44PM
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I don't see much evidence of CTL developing RO5 at all. From what I can see and have been told, it's pretty much identical to what Pace gave them.

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 16/6/04 10:53PM
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Nunfetishist: "don't see much evidence of CTL developing RO5" CTL have presumably done all the HAL work for Iyonix, including the graphics drivers for the nVidia. They've also released 6 (free) ROM upgrades and 33 disc upgrades including both bug-fixes and new features (admittedly small ones). Also, USB compatibility is improving apace.

But apart from that, not much yet, no ;-)

 is a RISC OS UserTonyStill on 16/6/04 11:02PM
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mikeg: A dangerously Machiavellian viewpoint ;-)

dgs

 is a RISC OS Userdgs on 16/6/04 11:06PM
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Nunfetishist: But why and when did Pace develop 32-bit RISCOS ? Or had Acorn / E14 already done some 32-bit RISCOS work? And why didn't they gave it to ROL?

 is a RISC OS Useregel on 16/6/04 11:29PM
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TonyStill: I'm told that Pace did the HAL work - and the whole point of HALs is that it makes it trivial to port to new platforms. Hardly hard work. Bug fixes should be expected - they're not often difficult. I myself have fixed bugs in the FileCore in RO3.8 by just using Zap and a disassembly. Hardly effort. They've certainly not put anywhere near as much time into it as ROL have, even if you don't think ROL's additions are all that useful. (I certainly don't -- which is why I never bought Select.)

egel: Pace developed a 32bit OS for their business. If you ever cared to visit them on one of their numerous open days, you'd have seen RISC OS running on a purely 32bit CPU, running TechWriter and AMPlayer.

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 16/6/04 11:34PM
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Someone mentioned in a previous comment (I think on the last article) that Pace owned the Intellectual Property rights and Castle owned the technology.

Working in academia and with IP's, one thing that I want to clarify is that IP's and technology do not have to be the same thing. IP's are commonly novel ideas or notions, whereas the technology may be just an implementation of the IP.

For example, WIMP maybe the IP of a company, but other companies may have implemented it in their technology (for example Windows, Mac OS, RISC OS, etc). When it comes to licensing, therefore, the issue is whether it is a licence of the IP or a licence of an existing implementation of the IP (technology).

To join in the speculation: when I read the comment that Castle had bought the RISC OS technology, but not the IP, my gut reaction was that this meant they had bought the code off Pace. RISC OS Ltd may believe, however, that their licence applies to the IP and not this code (especially if this code is a from a different development branch of the OS).

James

 is a RISC OS UserWalks on 16/6/04 11:37PM
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JGZimmerle: I was simply speculating when I said something along the same lines above. I don't /think/ I saw it stated anywhere. Can you find a link to somewhere documenting that clause? It would certainly change things if true.

 is a RISC OS Userninja on 16/06/04 11:46PM
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walks:

Please can people take the time to slow down and read everything *properly*. A lot of the arguing going on is because assorted people (on both sides) are misquoting things and then other people are taking the misquotes as absolute truth. In this case, Walks said:

"To join in the speculation: when I read the comment that Castle had bought the RISC OS technology, but not the IP"...

But if you read the Pace press release, it says:

"Castle Technology Ltd today announced the purchase of the RISC OS technology from Pace Micro Technology plc. The transaction involves the payment of an undisclosed cash sum, ongoing technical support for Pace`s existing products and the grant of a licence back to Pace for intellectual property rights."

Which means that CTL own the OS - both technology and IP, but have licensed Pace to use it (which is a fairly standard clause in these things).

Pace no longer own any part of RISC OS. They have a licence (issued by Castle) to use/sell it, but that's not involved in the current dispute and therefore *neither are they*. Pace have nothing to do with this....

 is a RISC OS Userchrisj on 17/06/04 01:07AM
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I think RISC OS Ltd should sit down with castle and sort the mess out. I doubt castle would do anything to unfair towards ROL and jepordise there public image with regards a new licence.

 is a RISC OS UserNoMercy on 17/06/04 01:42AM
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Reading through the press releases is interesting. It is common for language to be used to skew or 'spin' the public perception to your view. Notice ROL's statement that VA and STD have been forced to 'cease' production/delivery when what has actually happened is that they've only suspended delivery - they are still taking orders.

There are probably similar examples in Castles release.

Only those directly involved know what their version of events is and the bystanders should do just that - stand by - and await developments.

 is a RISC OS Userrmac on 17/06/04 03:16AM
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"Over the past five years it has licensed RISC OS 4 to many AMSes including Castle Technology Ltd, RiscStation, Microdigital, A6 and Virtual Acorn without any concerns from Element14 or *Pace PLC* that it was breaching the agreement in any way."

"A considerable amount of discussion and negotiation has actually taken place between Castle, *Pace* and RISCOS Ltd over the past two years, concerning both Castle's ongoing disputed use of RISC OS in the Iyonix PC as well as the more recent demands made by Castle against RISCOS Ltd and the AMSes."

"Pace have nothing to do with this"

Castle thinks Pace have nothing to do with this, ROL appears to think they do

 is a RISC OS Usermavhc on 17/06/04 08:49AM
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It is interesting that CTL is one of the companies that ROL state they have sub-licenced RO4 to. Perhaps that licence is what ROL are referring to. That licence could place restrictions on CTL that they feel they might no longer be bound by, since CTL now have the head licence. For example, not being permitted to sell the OS in a different form to that supplied by ROL. ROL might consider that CTL have breached the terms of that licence by developing and selling RO5.

 is a RISC OS Usermrtd on 17/06/04 09:46AM
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As I understand the situation, I think we can surmise the following:

1) Castle believes RISCOS Ltd isn't licensed to offer RISC OS for emulator products or embedded systems or something else;

2) RISCOS Ltd believes they have or had an exclusive licence to develop RISC OS for desktop machines, so Castle weren't licensed to release RISC OS 5 for the Iyonix in the first place. Although Castle subsequently bought RISC OS from Pace, presumably Castle have inherited E14 and Pace's agreements, and are obliged to honour them until they expire.

If both the above are true, it would appear that both companies have pushed their luck on occasion. Let's hope they can both take deep breaths and sort out their differences while keeping the lawyers to a minimum. At the end of the day, both Castle and RISCOS Ltd are small companies. Heavy lawyers' bills could cripple them and, indeed, the entire marketplace.

Incidentally, I think something that has been glossed over in these discussions is Virtual RPC. Lest we forget, we could well be seeing Windows + VRPC completely (and vastly) outperforming Iyonix in the next 12 - 18 months, for 2/3 of the price and with a much more useful machine to boot. I don't see how anyone could justify spending so much money on an Iyonix in that case - there are more worthy charities you could give your money to. As a business, if Castle sees a future for RISC OS running natively on the desktop, it would be downright remiss of them not to try and prevent this situation from becoming reality.

 is a RISC OS Useranon/83.104.43.221 on 17/06/04 10:14AM
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noel:

"we could well be seeing Windows + VRPC [vastly outperforming the Iyonix] with a much more useful machine to boot"

But slower to !Boot ;-)

Are you implying that Castle's last-ditch strategy is to try to crush the emulator-based opposition? I'd hope that's *not* the case. The best way for them to remain competitive, I'd have thought, is to continue to develop their product-range, and there are encouraging hints in the press release to this effect: i.e. "move the OS forward into the future with the many exciting new 32-bit ARM processors becoming available from various silicon manufacturers." (effectively = pre-announcing, of course)

Moreover, in the press release issued when they purchased RISC OS, they signalled the intention to offer licences for emulators. If Castle thought that it would be them, and not ROL, issuing the licences, and raking in the cash, then that may be at the heart of the dispute...

 is a RISC OS UserStewy on 17/06/04 10:48AM
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In reply to Noel:

"I don't see how anyone could justify spending so much money on an Iyonix in that case"

The case is actually quite nice ;-)

There is more to the picture than raw speed. Things like reliability, actual usage, portability, power consumption, security and the ongoing improvements in RISC OS 5 also come into play. Buying a computer is about choosing which balance you want.

 is a RISC OS Usermarkee174 on 17/06/04 11:15AM
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To Noel: I agree with your analysis, and also that VARPC + Windows will pose an increasingly competitive threat in future. However, it would be unwise to assume that there will be no development on the native hardware front. For most operations the Iyonix is roughly twice as fast as a Kinetic RPC: I cannot believe 'Iyonix Mk2' would not at least double that, albeit at the cost of considerably reworking the mobo and parts of the OS (ADFS?). Actually I don't think speed alone is the issue: software, and especially browser and multimedia software, is what will determine the fate of native hardware. Would I spend the money on an Iyonix if it could access 99.9% of web sites and give ne RealPlayer, DVD and audio support, like my son's iMac? No problem. Without these things it might not be good value at half the price.

Cheers

George

 is a RISC OS Userbucksboy on 17/06/04 11:15AM
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I feel that if VARPC were to take better advantage of SMP computers, then it'd outperform the Iyonix today. Speed of boot isn't really an issue these days - people accepted (even if they disliked it) the extended boot time of Select, and Windows XP does boot *bloody* fast these days. Certainly quicker than my RiscPC ever used to.

If/when (I know it's been mentioned as a possibility by VA) a Linux version of VARPC becomes available, that'll get rid of people's concerns about Windows's stability (for which are mostly unfounded these days), as well as any concerns about Microsoft's stanglehold. It'll also make VARPC machines cheaper if the person doesn't want Windows.

(init=/usr/bin/varpc, anyone? ;-)

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 17/06/04 11:42AM
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In reply to Stewy and markee174:

I have no idea what Castle's strategy is... What can't be denied, though, is that the relative power of Windows-compatible machines increases year-on-year at a much faster rate than native RISC OS machines.

It'll always be nicer to have RISC OS running natively. But there has to be a point, when the sheer speed of Windows + VRPC has overtaken and is accelerating away, and taking into account price, reliability and Mark's other entirely valid points, where RISC OS running native on the desktop ceases to be a viable prospect. It's possible to project and guess, but nobody can really know where that point is.

I'm genuinely interested in hearing people's opinions on the following question - it isn't meant to be facetious:

Realistically, ignoring the embedded systems market for the moment, where do people see RISC OS on the desktop as being in five years' time and ten years' time? I'm thinking less about hardware and raw OS features here, and more about markets and applications.

 is a RISC OS Useranon/83.104.43.221 on 17/06/04 11:50AM
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Without Castle there'd be no 32bit RISC OS, no Iyonix, no future except emulation, so RISC OS would be dead.

Imagine having the option of buying an Omega or an emulator or nothing, and there could be no advances for ARM machines as they're all 32bit only now, and we'd still be emulating the VIDC etc.

If to make Iyonix happen Castle had to fight with ROL that's a price worth paying.

 is a RISC OS Usermavhc on 17/06/04 11:52AM
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"Without Castle there'd be no 32bit RISC OS" - without *Pace*

"no future except emulation, so RISC OS would be dead". Err. Much maligned as they are, Microdigital, RiscStation and also Advantage 6 are or have all produced hardware. ROL is producing regular OS updates. I don't think that RO would be dead; that's overstating things a bit.

As to the rest of your post. Gosh!

 is a RISC OS Userjms on 17/06/04 12:04AM
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In reply to nunfetishist: It won't do to make 'me too' posts, but I agree with every single byte of your message!

 is a RISC OS Useranon/83.104.43.221 on 17/06/04 12:04AM
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Noel: Good summation, but I think you've missed one factor: license expiry. I've heard a few people now say that Pace agreed with ROL not to sell desktop machines. If that agreement is still valid (as part of the license to ROL) and presumably CTL inherited it wholesale, then they were not entitled to release RO5 on a desktop machine. I've also heard however, that ROL were meant to renew their license and failed to agree terms. If the Iyonix was released while negotiations were ongoing though...

I'm just repeating what I heard elsewhere - I have no information as to whether any of the above possibilities are true. I'll stop before I speculate any further, I think.

 is a RISC OS Userninja on 17/06/04 12:10AM
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Noel: Glad somebody does.

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 17/06/04 12:14AM
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Out of interest, does anyone know when the five-year anniversary of ROL acquiring RISC OS is / was? It seems to me that a five-year term for the licence is something that could be quite likely.

 is a RISC OS Useranon/83.104.43.221 on 17/06/04 12:16AM
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In reply to Noel:

I'm not convinced with the growth of Smartphones and other gadets, anyone will be buying a Computer in 10 years time.

Apple can't decide if its a Computer maker or an music seller - wait to see some really nasty legal battles with Apple (the music comapny) if they do...

Microsoft are desperately trying to move Windows out of the desktop and into the living room, embedded market with mixed results.

 is a RISC OS Usermarkee174 on 17/06/04 12:16AM
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Noel:

The statement from ROL at the top of this article states that they took out the licence from E14 in March 1999. A five year licence would therefore have expired in March this year.

Does anybody think that ROL have a valid claim that CTL have breached the terms of their RO4 licence from ROL, which they needed to be able to sell RPCs with RO4? This will almost certainly not allow development of the OS, or selling into any but specified restricted markets.

I think it is unfortunate that the situation has come to this. ROL and CTL will get their heads together PDQ and sort this whole business once and for all if they have the future of RISC OS at heart.

Martin

 is a RISC OS Usermrtd on 17/06/04 12:47AM
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Noel:

in 10 years time computers will be about 128 times faster then today (Moore's law : 2^(10 years/1.5)). By that time, I think, they can understand spoken language. There will still be people using RISC OS (and Windows) but if Windows is still the most used OS is hard to predict. Could just as good be something from Sony.

Peter

 is a RISC OS UserPeter on 17/06/04 1:00PM
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noel: The original licence was perpetual, so does not expire.

 is a RISC OS Userapdl on 17/06/04 1:32PM
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I Think that the licence did not include a version number of the Os. So the simple fact that castle 'developed' RO5 doesnt give you a complete new Os.And thus it is under the lincence of ROL. So they have broken their licence. Thats what the whole legal dispute is all about. Castle is trying to cover it up by saying that ROl is out of order by licencing risc os on 'hybrid' computers. As i see it castle is in for a (legal)rough ride.....

 is a RISC OS Useranon/212.120.90.22 on 17/06/04 1:58PM
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Rick: "Castle is ... saying that ROl is out of order by licencing RISC OS on 'hybrid' computers"

That's possible, but have Castle actually said so?

dgs

 is a RISC OS Useranon/195.217.253.5 on 17/06/04 3:21PM
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Have just read through the original ROL press release (from their site), and to quote(-ish!) - RISC OS Ltd have licensed RISC OS _4_ from Element 14 (and one would assume, later Pace) - I (personal) infer this to mean the 26-bit development tree, and since RISC OS Ltd have publicly stated that they have/had no intention of rewriting the OS for 32-bit compliance (do to the massive workload involved). One could infer (again, only my opinions) that ROL have always distanced themselves (intentionally) from the 32-bit dev tree. Castle do seem to be able to use version numbers to their better advantage (not to drag it up again, but Oregano 1 -> 2 upgrade..... 'It'll be free', ..'nah, this is an entirely different product'... etc :-)).

In reply to VARPC/Windows machine outpacing native in 12-18 months - by this time the Iyonix will be nearly 3 years old - I would hope there is some development roadmap for more advanced machines/mobos - I do still think CTL are playing their cards now to cash in on VA sales, rather than to quosh them, especially if STD's A75 also has a big order on the books - again strikes me as 'wanting to a slice' rather than a 'crush the competition' move.

Is the copy of the original license agreement for RISC OS in the public domain? Would be interested to see it (purely from a curiosity point of view), and likewise with Castles buyout of RISC OS (be nice to see how much they invested in that deal too - hard cash is often a good indicator of how much a company believes in a project, and having seen read ROL's annual reports I wouldn't be suprised to see that CTL paid more the license than ROLs annual turnover)

In 5 years time I would expect computers to have gone through an unsuccessful attempt to integrate all household appliances - perhaps including pizza ovens - and still be beige boxes :-) I expect I shall still be running RISC OS, hopefully on a more modern machine than this one, I expect Windows to no longer be market leader - due to people finally getting too p**sed off with it. I expect Mac users to still look down smugly on the rest of us. I expect to see Linux dominated the server market, and making steady (if not spectacular) advances onto the desktop (not something I expect to be part of). Somewhere along the way I would like ARM to realise that they've the handheld market sewn up and realise that perhaps they can begin to eat into some of the desktop share - and I expect to see CTL making machines with these new processors -but hey, what the hell do I know :-)

Oh dear, I was only going to have a quick comment today, but seem to have managed a reqular sized rant :-)

Regards, Ryan

 is a RISC OS Useranon/212.50.187.128 on 17/06/04 3:21PM
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Rick: I think we have to separate 'then' from 'now'. As to the 'then', you may be right that ROL have some grounds for thinking they have a claim against CTL. However, as far as 'now' is concerned, CTL own the OS and if ROL wish to continue with their business (and by implication their licencees) they must come to terms with CTL, whether that means CTL absorbs ROL in return for a cash payment to the shareholders, or some other mutually acceptable scheme. Unless of course they claim that Pace did not pass a valid title in the OS to CTL, but then they'd have to sue Pace...

Just my own opinion: I'm not an insider.

George

 is a RISC OS Userbucksboy on 17/06/04 3:28PM
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"RISC OS Ltd have licensed RISC OS 4 from Element 14" no they didn't, they "acquirered a license to develop and release RISC OS 4", which is subtly different.

"I (personal) infer this to mean the 26-bit development tree". I don't think, at the time, there were any other development trees.

"and since RISC OS Ltd have publicly stated that they have/had no intention of rewriting the OS for 32-bit compliance" They have said they will not speculatively convert all of RO4 to 32 bit. New work that has been done for RO4 / Select / Adjust is 32 bit neutral.

 is a RISC OS Userjms on 17/06/04 4:06PM
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Why can I post with Steffen's account?

- Julian

 is a RISC OS UserJGZimmerle on 17/06/04 5:18PM
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Oops, I cant't. But It was Steffen's name on the form.

 is a RISC OS UserJGZimmerle on 17/06/04 5:19PM
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I think it's an issue with Drobe's page cache. Apparently I'm about to post as you now...

 is a RISC OS Usermonkeyson on 17/06/04 5:28PM
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And I as you. Drobe's been very very buggy the past few days. Has the interest in these couple of new articles put it under strain, perhaps?

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 17/06/04 5:55PM
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> Without Castle there'd be no 32bit RISC OS" - without Pace

And Castle paid for Pace's work, doesn't matter, Castle are the ones who sold us a machine.

> "no future except emulation, so RISC OS would be dead". Err. Much maligned as they are, Microdigital, RiscStation and also Advantage 6 are or have all produced hardware. ROL is producing regular OS updates. I don't think that RO would be dead; that's overstating things a bit. Dead as in having no future, without the ability to run on xscale etc there's no future. Omega is pretty much a joke, Riscstation haven't done anything in years, Advantage 6 are selling similar stuff to RiscStation and emulators. The only people who've given us a path to the future in the past 5 years are Castle

 is a RISC OS Usermavhc on 17/06/04 6:08PM
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"[32 bit RO] And Castle paid for Pace's work" - but the work was done by the engineers at Pace before Castle came along. They may have paid to use it but they didn't cause the work to be done.

I agree that, to run on new hardware, Castle have provided a great new machine. But I don't believe the work of ROL in helping to keep interest in RO and its development should be so lightly dismissed.

 is a RISC OS Userjms on 17/06/04 6:23PM
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"RISC OS Ltd have publicly stated that they have/had no intention of rewriting the OS for 32-bit compliance" ... rubbish! Vast amounts of Select can be built 32bit compatible right now. It's frankly bloody ridiculous of all you ranters to go on and on about how ROL are in the wrong for not producing a 32bit RISC OS when they don't have a platform they can develop it for!!! Castle refuse to provide the insider info (eg nVidia docs) to allow ROL to do a 32bit variant for Iyonix themselves even if they wanted to! I think ROL have gone a considerable way to prepare for 32bit when no platform has been available to them. To suggest otherwise is plain wrong. Talking to Paul Middleton at the recent RISC OS show, he was certainly happy to suggest that there would/could be a 32bit RISC OS available if there was a suitable reason (ie target platform) -- perhaps the Xscale'd Omega?

I'm sure someone (dgs?) will twist this comment in to an anti-CTL statement yet again, but it really is CTL that have been holding up the movement of Select to Iyonix, not ROL ! CTL's bitterness towards ROL suggests they wouldn't allow this to happen now even if every user they had said that was what they wanted. A pathetic and silly situation.

 is a RISC OS Userimj on 17/06/04 6:56PM
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dgs: You are right when you say that Castle didnt explicitly said that. But when we look at the results we see that the first ones who came out with an announcement were the 'hybrid' suppliers.

George: I cannot say much about Anglo-Saxon law. But when it comes to Continental law i do know more then a fair share of it. Then and now are completly different elements. If a contractual breach is done a few years ago, the situation of then is applied by a judge. The simple fact that Castle ownes ( parts of / whole code or the ip) risc os right now is not of any influance. Stratetically however it is not wise for ROl to pursue. They are tied these days, so one way or another they *have to * cooperate. For the sake of the risc os communtiy as a whole.

regards,

Rick

 is a RISC OS Useranon/212.120.90.22 on 17/06/04 7:26PM
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I agree. CTL and ROL have to co-operate. If that means CTL absorbing ROL and continuing to support thier products then maybe that is the best solution. What is certain is we need both companies and their products. We cannot afford to lose either. Without 32 bit RISC OS and the new hardware the platform is dead. CTL are the only people addressing this. But the platform is also strenghtened by the burgeoning emulation market, without which we would lose a good proportion of our users and developers. So we need ROL too. Threatening legal proceedings because of breaches of licence conditions (on both sides) is couterproductive and a waste of resources that are better used in other ways. At present we don't know who started it, but it might not be who you think! I suspect Castle have only withdrawn ROLs licence because their hand was forced, perhaps by threats of legal action from ROL, who may have a valid case. If ROL are trying to kill off RO5, then that is intolerable, and will kill the platform if they succeed. Castle I believe are not trying to kill off anything, just trying to bring the directors or ROL to their senses. And if that fails, to gain control of ROL and its products. I think the best thing now is to get behing CTL and hope they succeed in what they are trying to do. Any other outcome would be disastrous!

Martin

 is a RISC OS Usermrtd on 18/06/04 08:59AM
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mrtd: Your suspicions about who "starteded it" are not correct.

I wonder where you got that idea from?

 is a RISC OS Userapdl on 18/06/04 09:21AM
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David:

I never said I could type!!

It just seemed to fit in with the facts and the statements we have seen. ISTM that if Castle were being threatened, they would have to do something. But I admit it is speculation. But the alternative scenario, that Castle are concerned about losing sales to the emulation market is also possible. But I felt less likely, since Castle have said that they will restore the status quo regarding ROLs licencees as soon as they can. So I dn't think they are trying to kill off RO4 or the emulation market.

But if you are speaking from inside information, I bow to your superior knowledge.

Martin

 is a RISC OS Usermrtd on 18/06/04 09:45AM
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@ Martin:

I havnt saw any evidence that ROL is trying to kill of RO5. The dispute imo is simply that Castle started to market RO5 without a proper permission from ROL.

We do agree on quite a few point , however ' on the way forward' we do have different opions.

The way forward can be a 'gentle proces' or a cold turkey method. Personally, i prefer the gentle way forward.

Lets hope that both sides realises that letting ones ego speak is very unwise. That goes for both PM and JL.

Thinking about the whole situation, i cannot say that Castle succeeded in taking away any unrest. They havent stated for instance that they will licence other companies against a reasonable price. If they put the price sky-high they can say:" Hey we gave them the oppertunity" . But in reality is also a way of getting competitors out of the market....

Regards,

Rick

 is a RISC OS Useranon/212.120.90.22 on 18/06/04 10:46AM
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Rick:

I'm not sure I actually disagree with you on the way forward. If PM and JL can learn to work together in the interests of RISC OS, that would be the best way. But the fact that they have tried and the situation has come to this does not look hopeful.

What matters is that all the currently available flavours of RISC OS and products continue to be available, and that nobody is forced out of the market or persuaded to give up because of this row. It is best if it can be resolved amicably, and worst if it ends up in court, or if it results in losing products or users.

Martin

 is a RISC OS Usermrtd on 18/06/04 12:23AM
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Martin Dixon >

IMHO the *only* thing RISC OS Ltd did that was wrong was to give permission to ship RO4 with emulators (and not only that Select too (their crown jewels)). It may have made short term commercial sense but (IMHO) longer term it spells trouble for the platform.

It would be a pity if the ARM hardware component to RISC OS was lost just when ARM seems to be making positive noises about improving performance (e.g., 2MB high speed caches and so forth). If *we* value the independance of RISC OS then it *must* exist on its own hardware, VARPC does *nothing* to help this.

I would be *nice* if some accomodation could be reached between ROL and Castle, I am not so sure an accomodation that kept Emulation in the market place would be a good idea.

Regards

Annraoi

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 18/06/04 1:39PM
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I too am uncomfortable with VRPC users buying into Select. I think that Adjust is the maximum that should be offered and any futher enhancements in the OS should be paid for as in a future Adjust2 or 3 etc.

 is a RISC OS Userjlavallin on 18/06/04 2:11PM
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AMS: And in contrast, VRPC has bought in many sales for ROL that *WOULD NOT HAVE HAPPENED OTHERWISE*

I wouldn't be surprised if VRPC sales outnumbered real hardware, because from the consumer's point of view, it makes so much more sense most of the time. That's not ROL's fault, that's the companies who manufacture the hardware's fault - they can't compete. As they say, adapt or die.

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 18/06/04 2:49PM
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In reply to Rob Kendrick

Valid points but don't forget that ROL (allegedly) basically told Iyonix owning Select subscribers to get knotted (except they couldn't be bothered to say it directly) ;o) So most of us have! Result more lost sales that surely cannot be good for the shareholders.

At least Castle are making business-like noises about continuing to supply 26bit versions to the (alleged) former ROL (alleged) licencees. Which leaves some hope for the future for all flavours of RISC OS users and developers.

imj So basically ROL have been building a 32bit 'RISC OS' that nobody wants or can make use of? Great use of shareholders and subscribers money not to mention an outstanding example of market research and business sense!

 is a RISC OS Userblahsnr on 18/06/04 5:37PM
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An interesting thought has occurred to me (but IANAL, so...):

Might it be possible for Castle and ROL to agree for sales of RO4 by third parties (ie STDevel, VA and so on) to be allowed to continue with the royalties being paid into escrow for collection by whichever side wins the arguement? This might allow people to continue selling RO4 machines without either Castle or ROL having to admit fault (until things are legally settled), and would certainly make life easier for everyone else in the market.

This is obviously more of a problem with physical ROMs (since someone paid to have those made) than for VRPC, but it might allow things to be freed up temporarily? (But, as I said, I am NOT a Lawyer and there may be serious legal reasons why it simply can't be done.)

 is a RISC OS Userchrisj on 18/06/04 5:44PM
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Rob> You said " And in contrast, VRPC has bought in many sales for ROL that *WOULD NOT HAVE HAPPENED OTHERWISE* I wouldn't be surprised if VRPC sales outnumbered real hardware"

Glad to see you're Happy about that !) Have I mistakenly dropped into a Windows PC fan site or something ; )

To be serious for a moment financial success does not always benefit this platform (remember Acorn pulling the plug back in 1999 they made a pile of money - saved some tax for their shareholders and left their loyal customers high and dry with Pheobe cancelled and no arrangement for a clean handover to another owner). No one would call that a red letter day, a triumph for RISC OS, and neither should people view lots of VA sales as any less damaging - profitable for some YES damaging for the future of the platform arguably YES as well.

Oddly with all the invective bouncing around here it's important to remember ROL and Paul Middleton did save the platform from destruction then, hopefully he and they will realise that an accomodation for to save the platform is once again required... I am hopeful that they can rise to the challenge. The alternative is to try to defend the right to sell software that moves people over to Windows I can't believe Paul or ROL really want to do that do they ?

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 18/06/04 7:49PM
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chris: RE your suggestion. It would indeed be easily possible given a willingness to do so by both sides. So, the answer is "no"

 is a RISC OS Userapdl on 19/06/04 06:18AM
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In reply to Annraoi:

Whatever their private thoughts, Castle have always been very gracious to ROL over their efforts to provide continuity and developments for RISC OS 4 in their talks at the last 5 shows.

I think the problem may be more, where it now goes from here...

 is a RISC OS Usermarkee174 on 19/06/04 2:24PM
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imj:

"It's frankly bloody ridiculous of all you ranters to go on and on about how ROL are in the wrong for not producing a 32bit RISC OS when they don't have a platform they can develop it for!!!"

Now that's a load of horsesh*t and you know it! There's absolutely NOTHING that stops ROL technically to develop a 32 bit RISC OS for the RiscPC, A7000, RiscStation, Mico and now Omega. They could easily have done what Pace/Castle did and created a HAL and gotten rid of the hardware dependancies. The processors in ALL of the above mentioned computers are capable of running in 32 bit mode and therefore provide a platform for ROL to develop a 32bit RISC OS.

ROL at least starting to create a 32 bit version of RO would have given hardware developers something to aim for and design and build XScale based computers, that didn't happen.

If ROL had created a HAL that would have given hardware developers a chance to build computers without being stuck with some VIDC emulation and a chance to incorporate more modern video cards. It would also have made moving to PCI/AGP/PCI-X/USB/Firewire or whatever easier but that wasn't done, hardware developers were stuck with VIDC and an OS that was stuck on 7-8 year old propriatory hardware designs.

ROL seemed underfinanced and unwilling to develop RISC OS in the direction hardware developers needed. Therefore Castle developed the Iyonix and got their hands on RISC OS that was capable of running on a 32 bit processor. I personally would have liked to see ROL do the above but they didn't and have shown no signs of intending to do so unless someone is willing to build a computer and then wait a couple of years for ROL to update RISC OS to be capable of running on that computer while the hardware developer goes bust.

 is a RISC OS UserGulli on 20/06/04 1:35PM
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One thing that's worth remembering was that it wasning CTL who 32bited RISC OS - it was Pace. And Pace had a good reason to convert to 32bit. They sold many STBs running it. I imagine many more than exists in the desktop market for RISC OS at all. It's all just scales of economy. If Pace hadn't converted to 32bit, I doubt CTL would have been that interested in buying it. (Not *not* interested, just less so.)

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 20/06/04 6:59PM
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This whole situation seems rediculous to me. It sounds like Castle were wanting to produce a new, modern RISC OS computer, but RISCOS Ltd. couldn't provide them with a suitable OS. They therefore did the only thing they could do - bought a 32-bit clean version of RISC OS from Pace, along with all associated technology and IPR.

As for the suggestion that RISCOS Ltd are not interested in producing a 32-bit clean version of RISC OS, their mission statement claims that this is their primary aim. Check their web site under FAQ. Logically removing the reliance upon the aging Acorn chipset should also have been a top priority.

Remember that RISCOS Ltd. have had FIVE YEARS to deliver this OS. It's very poor that they have failed to do so. If companies are forced to go elsewhere for an OS that will work with new hardware they have little grounds to complain.

Now somebody here suggested that RISCOS Ltd. couldn't play ball and produce an OS for the Iyonix because Castle wouldn't give them info on the nVidia graphics chip. Well this too is bullshit - nVidia are notoriously secretive about their graphics chips, so it's highly likely that Castle weren't allowed to share such specs.

However the biggest part of the blame here should not rest with Castle or RISCOS Ltd. for this fiasco. Acorn are the ones who truely screwed up here. The license they issued for RISC OS ensured that the OS would split and fork, which is exactly what has happened. Had their been an insistence that Pace and RISCOS Ltd. work together to develop RISC OS I get the feeling that none of this would have happened.

 is a RISC OS Useranon/65.49.70.68 on 21/06/04 9:19PM
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To both Mr. Simms and Mr. S. Williams: ROL have been cleaning up ROS 4 for several years now. They singlehandely turned this macrokernel beast into a fully modular microkernel baby. In fact they converted most (if not all) modular items into 32-bit complaint modules AND removed most bugs out of it (Yes RISC OS 4 is probably the OS with the least bugs available although it may not be most advanced OS anymore). THIS is the PRIME requirement before any serious kernel modifications CAN and must be done. Therefore they have my deepest respect in what they have accomplished. It is indeed a pitty that it took quite long. It also means that RISC OS 4 is technically the BEST basis to build a 32-bit RISC OS from. Besides do we really KNOW whether ROL hasn't got a 32-bit ROS-kernel or is that just an assumption?

As for Castle. It IS a tremendous effort that they in an absolute record time produced a completely new RISC OS machine with many features we all were dreaming of including a 32-bit RISC OS (which they incidentally didn't build themselves). It is a pitty that the machine is financially again out of reach for most users (especially since most important assets were bought out from a dying PACE) . Things are even worsened by the fact that RISC OS 5 is KNOWN to be very unstable compared to e.g. RISC OS 4 adjust.

So both companies have done miracles and I am proud of their respective achievements. It's a shame they now face each other instead of embracing each other.

Also Castle made assumptions that they wouldn't mind providing (read: selling) 26-bit RISC OS 4 to current interested parties. However they also made perfectly clear that IF ppl wanted to have a 32-bit RISC OS they'd have to BUY new machines with RISC OS 5. They certainly WILL not make RISC OS 4 32-bit nor sell a 32-bit RISC OS 4. They would provide certain RISC OS 4 features in a future RISC OS 5 but no garantuees were made regarding future development on RISC OS 4 as far as they are concerned. Ofcourse I can not blame them for this persuasive move to force ppl to buy new machines (provided they'd want a new RISC OS native machine). I think I was probably the only one at the Expo show whom applauded this, indeed, bold move.

To Mr. Lavalin: Sorry but I completely agree to Mr. Kendrick regarding VARPC. In fact I frimly believe that VARPC is much better for software sales than software houses creating windows-native versions of RISC OS applications. Or to say it bluntly: Yes, indeed Sibelius has done MORE harm than e.g. R-Comp selling RISC OS Doom + VARPC or Aprictote Studios selling Prophet+VA5000!

Blame those companies that first force ppl in the ECC to buy RISC PC's and then suddenly to please the yankees not only convert their stuff but also refuses any further involvement into the user base that granted themn their success!

Regards,

Manu T

 is a RISC OS Userepdm3be on 02/07/04 2:48PM
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