RIP PalmOS

We interrupt your normal broadcasting with this special bulletin from our reporter in the field..

For over 5 years now I’ve been a PalmOS developer working in three different companies, developing a series of interesting and cutting edge products in this niche market. I’ve developed on PalmOS devices from the Palm Personal to the Treo650 and it’s been a roller coaster ride I’ll admit, getting particularly exciting at the end as PalmOS 5.4 (aka Garnet) has had more and more functionality bolted on and the devices have became more shoddy and bug ridden.

But I’m now standing at the exit turnstile…with a fading grin and vague nausea. As of May I am no longer a PalmOS developer.

PalmOS is dead people. Whatever glimmer of hope was left for the OS flickered and died in the last three years when it became clear we were never going to see a PalmOS 6 (aka Cobalt) device released. Palm Inc. are clearly distancing themselves from the OS with the release of the Windows Mobile Treo 700w device.

By the time we see an embedded Linux product with a ‘Palm layer’ on it nobody will give a crap.

We’ll all be using Windows Mobile Treo devices.

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4 comments

  1. I hate to say that it is inevitable, but it is inevitable. Back in the day I was a big fan of PalmOS, if only for the uniformity of experience. The DB layer and UI paradigm meant that all the apps had to behave in a roughly similar manner, so you knew what you were getting into.

    Contrast WinCE/PocketPC/WinMo, which from day one had the curse of Windows: too much UI flexibility. Even now my WinMo5 PocketPC Phone Edition has soft buttons that developers happily ignore, destroying my user experience when I try to use the left soft button to open a ‘File’ menu.

    One day Windows itself will got the same way as PalmOS: death by a thousand backwards-compatibility cuts. Someone needs to have the balls to make a break and make it fast. I wonder if compatibility with Palm’s massive back-catalogue was the thing that broke Cobalt?

  2. The thing that killed Cobalt was no handset manufacturer on the planet gave a flying fig about it.

    Handset manufacturers are like sheep. None of them will take a punt on a new OS.

    Windows Mobile is only a ‘success’ because of the Microsoft behemoth behind it.

    Symbian OS exists solely because Sony/Ericsson needed an OS that was mature enough to support cellphone useage … but wasn’t made by Microsoft or to a lesser extent, Palm.

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