According to some of my sources in the PDA industry, I've learned that PalmSource is planning on releasing Palm OS 5.5 late in 2003, though they will show a demo at the PalmSource Developer Seminar, May 6-7 in San Mateo, CA. What makes the new OS release groundbreaking is that it upgrades current OS 5 devices like the Palm Tungsten T, and XScale based Pocket PC devices!
The 5.5 upgrade should be available in retail stores in both CD, and SD formats (no Memory Stick version has yet been announced) and for direct secure purchase and download from PalmSource's website. The $59.95 SD version will be an especially a good deal, as the 128MB cards the upgrade will come on can be erased after installation of the upgrade and used as normal removable media. The CD version and web download are to be priced at $29.95.
As for other details, I'm told Palm OS 5.5 will run on any Pocket PC that uses an XScale processor but unfortunately there will be no StrongARM processor support for various technical reasons. The upgrade is said to use only 8MB of ROM and includes a new memory management utility to add other applications to ROM (similar to JackFlash).
From what I've learned, the Palm OS 5.5 Flasher will check the device you own and upgrade Palm ARM devices directly. Pocket PC devices on which the update is run have two options: completely removing the Pocket PC 2002 OS or a dual boot feature. However, it's made clear before choosing dual-boot option that the Pocket PC 2002 OS takes approximately 32MB ROM which could be used for other applications bundled with the update.
Aside from the ROM image and special Flasher Utility, the rest of the card includes a variety of applications, including the latest versions of QuickOffice Premier with native file support and SnapperMail along with the latest Palm Desktop installers for both Macintosh and Windows.
As for performance -- I'm told that OS 5.5 runs incredibly quickly on Pocket PC XScale devices, providing tangible proof of just how lethargic Pocket PC 2002 is in comparison to Palm OS 5.5 on the very same chips. Pocket PC devices are said to run the new OS "Amazingly fast" and my sources call the visible difference in performance compared to Pocket PC 2002 OS "A real eye-opener".
It should be interesting to see how Microsoft reacts to PalmSource's alternate OS option on their own PocketPC devices. To even mention the upgrade would give it added notice, while not mentioning the alternate OS option might indicate Microsoft greatly fears what Palm OS on Pocket PCs represents.
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