Comdex 2001: Palm releases latest operating system

Handheld computer maker Palm offered delegates at the Comdex trade show an early chance to buy the next version of its operating...

Handheld computer maker Palm offered delegates at the Comdex trade show an early chance to buy the next version of its operating system.

Version 4.1 of the Palm operating system will be made generally available on 15 November, but the company is selling the new software now at Comdex. Available on a CD only, delegates at the show can receive a $10 (£7) discount on the software, which will normally sell for $39.99 (£28).

Released as an upgrade for the Palm III and Palm V series of handhelds, the operating system adds some additional security features, as well as new applications such as a notepad program that allows users to sketch and save notes. They are the same features that were released with Version 4.0, a system only available on Palm's m505, m500 and m125 devices, according to Palm.

On the security side, the release comes with an auto-lock feature that makes Palm devices password-protected. Other new features include SMS technology, designed for sending text messages when a device is connected by infrared link to a GSM mobile phone.

Palm is developing a Bluetooth card that will work with its m500 and m505 handhelds running the operating system. Demonstrated at Comdex, the card will be available in the second quarter of 2002 for under $150, said Ray Combs, Palm's director of software solutions.

The operating system upgrade is only available for Palm devices. While the company licenses its operating system to several hardware makers - including Sony, Handspring and Symbol Technologies - each of those companies is responsible for making Palm operating system upgrades available on their own respective handheld devices.

Handspring, for example, still runs Palm operating system Version 3.5 on its devices. The company said it does not plan to upgrade its operating system soon, although it has added several enhancements to the basic system released by Palm that match those in Version 4.1.

Handspring devices are also not capable of being upgraded to the latest version of the Palm operating system, because they do not include Flash memory, which is the technology that enables software upgrades, Combs said.

In the meantime, Sony has its own Palm operating system Version 4.1 for its line of Clie devices..

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