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Next Palm OS due late 2003

The newest version of PalmSource's handheld operating system, OS 6, will emphasize security for wireless data transfers, according to a company executive.

SAN MATEO, Calif.--The next version of the Palm operating system for handhelds will be available to licensees at the end of the year, according to a PalmSource executive.

The company expects to debut major OS releases every 12 months to 18 months after the first hardware ships, Albert Chu, PalmSource's vice president of business development, said in an interview with CNET News.com. Devices using the latest version, OS 6, likely won't be available until early to the middle of next year, he added.

"We released OS 5 in the summer of last year, and devices were not available until late last year," Chu said.

During a morning keynote speech at the company's developers conference here, PalmSource CEO Dave Nagel outlined the software subsidiary's plans and talked up the new operating system.

"OS 6 is the evolutionary path to the future," Nagel said. The operating system was designed nearly from the ground up for wireless capabilities, with a focus on security for wireless data transfers, he added.

PalmSource on Wednesday will be offering sessions for developers to help them make decisions about any future applications they may be creating.

"We'll be giving a sneak peak to developers so they can make their long-term plans," said David Fedor, a director of developer architecture and disclosure at PalmSource.

The sneak peak will include information about how to ensure the seamless compatibility of software programs written for Palm OS 5 with OS 6 and how those programs can best benefit from expected performance improvements.

Fedor added that when devices using the new operating system are shipped, applications that can take full advantage of the gear and the OS will be available. In addition to working with developers and hardware manufacturers, the company has worked with wireless network carriers to ensure that their concerns will be addressed with the next OS.

"Carriers want to make sure that a new application won't take down their network," said Michael Higashi, a director of OS marketing at PalmSource.

Higashi added that security, and not just over wireless networks, will be a major selling point of Palm OS 6.

In related news, PalmSource said it is working with Research In Motion to make wireless data connectivity and secure e-mail available to Palm OS licensees. The companies did not release further details.

PalmSource also announced two new licensees for its operating system: Start-up Tapwave will use the Palm OS as the foundation for its Helix device to be released in late 2003, and New Zealand electronics company Aceeca will use the OS as the basis for its Meazura handheld.