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Palm may update operating system soon

Several registered customers of the handheld maker report receiving an e-mail message advertising an upgrade to Palm OS 4.x for $39.95.

By Matthew Broersma

Palm appears to be preparing an operating system upgrade for older Palm devices for Nov. 15, although the company has denied any such plans.

Several Palm registered customers have reported receiving an e-mail message advertising an upgrade to Palm OS 4.x on Nov. 15 for $39.95. People who preorder will get a $10 discount, according to the message.

New Palm devices currently run the 4.0 operating system, but older devices are only able to upgrade to OS 3.5.

Palm Europe says it is not aware of the e-mail and has not set a date for releasing OS 4.x as a software upgrade. But Palm did confirm that it is planning to release such an upgrade eventually and that it will probably charge for the software.

Only PDAs (personal digital assistants) with flash memory will be able to accept the upgrade. Compatible devices include the Palm Vx LE, Palm Vx, Palm V and Palm IIIc, according to Palm. The m100, IIIe and VII wireless series are among those that cannot be upgraded.

For people running OS version 4.0, the new OS will mostly fix a number of minor bugs. The software will be most useful to those running a 3.x or older operating system. The upgrade will add security features, improve management of alarms, enhance color resolution and improve data entry. According to reports, Palm will include its mobile connectivity software with the upgrade, which adds support for wireless Internet and e-mail access as well as mobile phone messaging.

The current upgrade is 3.5. Palm OS 4.0 was launched in September with the m125 handheld. Version 4.1 made its debut with the Sony N760C.

Palm's upgrade only applies to Palm devices. Sony has already released an OS 4.1 upgrade, and other manufacturers of Palm OS-based handhelds must come up with their own software updates.

Staff writer Matthew Broersma reported from London.