Palm Keeping Very Quiet on Details of Its Upcoming Operating System

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Last week, Palm Inc. announced at its annual financial analysts’ forum that it is developing its own operating system that will be based on Linux, but also include important parts of the Garnet OS (formerly Palm OS Garnet).

At that meeting, the company laid out its future plans in broad strokes, but gave few details. It even refused to give the name for this upcoming operating system, although the smart money says that it will be called the Palm OS, as Palm, Inc. now owns all the rights to the "Palm" brand.

Since that time, the company has consistently refused to reveal additional details. Despite multiple calls to various executives — as well as its PR firm — the only statement that Palm will make is, "We are not adding any detail to what we shared with financial analysts at this time."

Examining the Slideshow

Although Palm won’t say anything else, it has posted the slides from last week’s announcement on its web site, and these give a basic overview of the upcoming operating system.

The first slide describes the goals Palm hopes to meet.

Probably to no one’s surprise, one of these is simplicity, as this has been a hallmark of the company’s products from the beginning.

At the same time, Palm clearly wants this operating system to support a wide range of features, from simple personal information management to multimedia playback, Microsoft Office support, and many kinds of Internet access.

Easily the most interesting bullet point on this slide mentions "easy backup and restore from the web." Although less important than this would have been a few years ago before non-volatile storage became a part of most devices, anyone who has ever had badly written software cause a hard reset will welcome the idea.

Click here to view a larger version of the first slide.

The second slide drills down more on the goals.

It shows that Palm wants devices running this operating system to offer important features like instant on and quick application switching.

This slide also shows that the company hopes to offer something that’s not often found in smartphones — even Palm’s own — low cost.

Another hoped for feature, "Great battery life," is also a feature that has challenged smartphones.

Click here to view a larger version of the second slide.

Many might consider the third slide to be the most important.

It spells out how Palm plans to add a new operating system to its product mix.

What was formerly called Palm OS Garnet — the operating system Palm, Inc. recently bought a perpetual license to from Access, Inc. —  will be merged by Palm developers with a Linux-based operating system. This means that there will only be a few more Garnet OS-based models.

Despite developing its own operating system, this slide makes it clear that Palm will continue to release devices based on Windows Mobile.

Click here to view a larger version of the third slide.

The fourth and final slide on the upcoming operating system sums up Palm’s intentions.

Both this one and the previous slide emphasize the company’s commitment to long-time Palm OS users and developers, while at the same time bringing new features. However, the company has been very light on details on exactly what this means.

Still, Palm says in this slide that its new operating system will offer robust multitasking, including the ability to make voice and data calls at the same time, a feature Palm OS users should welcome.

At the same time, Palm hopes to make it easy for developers to create applications for this OS.

Click here to view a larger version of the fourth slide.

The first devices running the Linux-based version of the Palm’s operating system won’t be available until late this year, and the company said last week it will release models based on Garnet before then.

It is keeping mum on any details on all these upcoming models.

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