Tuesday, September 27

Palm does Windows

Argh!

If anybody (who has the position to make a difference) is listening, please don't let this be the beginning of the end for PalmOS!

I've been using PalmOS handhelds since 2000, and I've become really attached to the interface and design. I've found a bunch of free programs that I like, including a really great Backgammon game and an awesome encrypted password-storage application, and I don't want to be forced to switch OS's one day and spend time re-creating a comfortable user experience.

I know this announcement is only of a Windows-Mobile-based Treo, but I kind of see this infestation of the Microsoft OS into a perfectly good system as a sort of death knell for the future of PalmOS. I'm mostly a Mac guy these days, and since Palm's operating system is desktop-platform-agnostic I have no trouble integrating my Tungsten into OSX. I fear that Windows Mobile will not offer the same compatibility level with macintosh if one day the Windows menace spreads to the rest of Palm's handheld line.

Only one quote from the linked article held out any ray of hope for me: "Palm for some time had been entertaining the notion of a Windows-based device to woo corporate customers who are accustomed to Microsoft products and have been reluctant to buy Palm OS-based gadgets." It seems that this is mainly intended as a corporate device, so I'm really hoping that they leave the consumer devices alone.

But then again, I wouldn't mind the demise of PalmOS so much if Apple made a full-function handheld computer with some form of its OSX platform as its base. I think that the iPod could easily evolve into such a device, if they just incorporated some sort of method for data entry and menipulation right from the music player itself. Since it can already view calendars and contacts from OSX's iCal and Address Book, including a slide-out keyboard or Graffiti-style entry method to enable editing of the information would make it the perfect handheld computer.

The onlt problem is that Apple prides itself on being sleek and easy-to-use. Even though I'm pretty darn good at writing with PalmOS's "Graffiti" handwriting recognition, it's still not flawless and easy, even after five years. Steve Jobs would have to find something so sleek and natural that it will seem like it just belongs on the iPod, like every other innovation Apple has produced in connection with the music player.

2 comments:

Walter Jeffries said...

Yeah, real downer there. I have a Handspring Visor Deluxe - a.k.a. the left hand of Palm. I love it. A bit better than a Palm yet it runs the the PalmOS which is far superior to running Windows on a handheld.

I was a bit disappointed when Handspring sold out to Palm but heck, getting to sell the same thing twice - what a cash cow! :)

Hearing about Palm using Windows though was sickening. To be expected though since they sold off their crown jewels - the PalmOS.

Brad said...

Yeah, I was a Handspring guy first as well. I had a Visor (the "standard" one, not Deluxe, even though more people bought the Deluxe model) in 2000, and then the hardware buttons stopped working in 2002. Handspring had already been bought by Palm by then, so I bought a Palm Tungsten T2. Earlier this year, the T2 quit holding a charge and I bought a Tungsten E2.

Both changes were nearly seamless since it was the same comfortable OS in each piece of hardware. I'm really leery of having that OS pulled out from underneath me... but if Apple morphs the iPod into a PDA by then I won't have any reasons to complain.

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