Palm OS 4.0 upgrade 'coming soon'

Version 4.0 of the PalmOS shipped last month in the latest handhelds, but soon owners of older models should be able to upgrade

The latest rumours in the handheld computing world have it that users of older Palm models could get an upgrade to OS 4.0 later this month. The operating system, which replaces version 3.5, made its debut last month with the m125, m500 and m505 handhelds, but is not yet available as an upgrade.

Palm declined to comment on unannounced products, but confirmed OS 4.0 "may be" released as a software upgrade in the future. Anonymous reports tipped 15 November as a likely launch date.

The new OS includes several major improvements, such as a built-in password security and support for 65,000-colour display. It also includes improvements to email and Internet access, data entry and alarms, among other features.

In the mean time, Sony's newest Palm-based handhelds are using what Palm calls OS 4.1. A spokeswoman explained that it is Palm's policy that when OS licensees make changes to the system -- in Sony's case, adding an MP3 player and other alterations -- the operating system is given a different number.

However, the version of the OS that Sony is using under the "4.1" also includes some minor bug fixes, according to reports. These are likely to be included in any software upgrade that Palm releases, whether or not the software is called OS 4.1.

Not all Palm models are upgradeable: only those with flash ROM can handle an OS update, which includes the III, IIIx, IIIxe, IIIc, V, and Vx. Among the models that do not support an upgrade are the IIIe and the relatively new m100.

Palm began charging for OS upgrades with version 3.5, which presently sells for £9.99 in the UK, and the trend is expected to continue with 4.0.

Such an upgrade would only apply to Palm-branded models, and other licensees would be required to release their own versions of the software. Handspring models do not use flash ROM, and are not OS-upgradeable, but already include most of the features in OS 4.0.

See the Mobile Technology News Section for full coverage.

See the Software News Section for full coverage.

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