Insider with more developments....
There has been a great deal of feverish activity since the last Insider article was published. so it only seems reasonable to cover as much as possible.
It has been a good and bad couple of months for RISCOS Ltd. So we shall start with the good news. Firstly the RISC OS Select upgrade now works on the Castle Technology Kinetic processor card without the user having to disable all the Kinetic parts and hence lose the cards advantages over a normal StrongARM. As reported in the last Insider column Cerilica Vantage would not work under the Select upgrade either. This has also been fixed, Insider has been informed that the problem was an obscure change to the "Font_ScanString" command. This does indicate rather well that RISCOS Ltd are prepared to listen to problems and fix them when they are able, which can only be good news for the RISC OS community.
Now let us move on the the bad news. Firstly at the time of writing (early January) the Select upgrade CDs have still not been shipped to customers. The Select scheme was announced at the Wakefield show in May 2001, a show which RISCOS Ltd didn't attend. At the time users were told they would get up to three CDs in a years subscription. Assuming that RISCOS Ltd are going to ship 3 CDs for the first year subscribers they will need one CD in February, one in March and one in April. Then it will be time for the first customers to renew their subscriptions. How likely is this? Since RISCOS Ltd don't seem able to get one CD out in 8 months, what chance is there for 3 in three months? As has been pointed out before in RISC World, up to three CDs could easily mean one CD. If you were a Select subscribers expecting three CDs and only received one (or perhaps even none) would you re-subscribe? Insider wouldn't.
On another subject RISCOS Ltd have still not released the new Programmers Reference Manuals for RISC OS 4. Insider is of the opinion that RISCOS Ltd need to release the information required for RISC OS programmers as soon as possible. How do they expect developers to support the new operating system without detailed manuals? Even a list of internal changes to SWI calls would be most helpful.
Insider also feels that it is worth mentioning the recent fiasco concerning the VirtualAcorn project. (eh, watch it mate -ED). VirtualAcorn is the commercial name for the Red Squirrel Acorn emulator, which is being marketed by Aaron, RISC Worlds editor. Aaron has publicly stated that VirtualAcorn will be supplied with a copy of RISC OS supplied under an agreement with Pace. (Just another quick note, VirtualA5000 comes with RISC OS 3.11 - ed). However it seems that RISCOS Ltd were not aware of this agreement and in Foundation Newsletter 19 said that.
If you have bought an emulator in the expectation of running RISC OS on it then there is no product which is legally licenced to do that at present. RISC OS 3.11 in particular has not been placed into the public domain and Pace as copyright holders of RISC OS have made it quite clear that they reserve all rights to take action against anyone who abuses the RISC OS rights by illegal distribution of unlicenced copies of RISC OS.
If you have paid for any form of Acorn emulator which includes any version of the RISC OS Operating System then we strongly suggest that you return the product to the supplier for a full refund until such time as legally licenced copies of RISC OS are available from RISCOS Ltd for use with such emulators.
Since VirtualAcorn is the only commercial Acorn emulator then it would seem that RISCOS Ltd are saying that VirtualAcorn do not have a licence for RISC OS. Obviously either VirtualAcorn or RISCOS Ltd are mistaken.
(Another Editors bit - I have had to snip a large part of Insiders article at this point. Although RISC World has no connection with VirtualAcorn I do. I feel that it would be unreasonable of me to publish the next few paragraphs of Insiders article. Although Insider will be delighted to know that he was substantially correct in his assumptions. I don't see how publishing them would help the situation. - ed).
After the long running who is and who isn't editor of Acorn User saga from the last Insider article a new man has stepped forward. From the February issue the new editor of Acorn User will be Michael Stubbs. The magazine will also be re-designed and re-launched with a much more active sales time behind it. However the new sales team seem to need a bit more training. A small RISC OS dealer recently received a phone call from Acorn User Sales asking if he would like to sell Acorn user from his shop. The dealer replied no, as he didn't have a shop, and since he has been advertising in Acorn User as a mail order company for years Acorn User ought to know that. The sales executive made his excuses and ended the call.
Insider wishes Michael Stubbs well, having seen the latest issue, which included a large Watford Electronics insert as the centre pages of the magazine, Insider feels that Michael may have his work cut out. Let us only hope that his renumeration is in keeping with the task in hand.
Bits and Pieces
More good news from Pace, it seems that a new RISC OS based set top box is on the cards shortly. Although the box will be available in a non RISC OS version as well it is good news that Pace are continuing with RISC OS development. Insider has also been waiting for more news on the Microdigital Omega computer. When will it be launched? Microdigital wouldn't say. Insider does feel though that the delay between the announcement and any shipping of units has not helped the RISC OS market very much. Explan are continuing development of their new Solo computer, which contains an ARM 9 processor. This is significant as as far as Insider is aware this processor cannot run the current 26 bit version of RISC OS. Presumably Explan will be approaching RISCOS Ltd to licence the 32 bit version of RISC OS written by Pace, this could prove most interesting as so far RISCOS Ltd have said that they have not been approached about the 32 bit OS, surely it can only be a matter of time before they are.
A final thing....
Just a quick extra bit that has landed on my desk. As RISCOS Ltd have repeatedly stated that have an exclusive licence for desktop use of RISC OS, the deal between Pace and VirtualAcorn seems to indicate that this is not the case. The truth seems to be that RISCOS Ltd have an exclusive worldwide licence for RISC OS 4 and RISC OS 4 only. However, and here is a question, what will happen when the "exclusive" licence RISCOS Ltd holds for RISC OS 4 is due for renewal next year?