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PalmSource ships Web browser

The subsidiary of Palm begins shipping a Web browser to licensees of its operating system, as it tries to distinguish itself from Palm's well-known hardware.

PalmSource, a subsidiary of Palm, has begun shipping a Web browser to licensees of its operating system, in an effort to distinguish itself from Palm's well-known hardware.

The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based PalmSource made the announcement late Monday in a news release posted to its Web site. The company had said in late June that it was working with Access Systems America on a browser that would become the basis for the Palm OS 5 Web Browser. At the time, PalmSource also said that it was working with several companies to make Java support and a virtual private networking client available for the new Palm OS 5.

The company is hoping to attract the attention of the growing number of companies creating devices that can access the Internet wirelessly. Consumer response to wireless devices has been tepid so far. But with speedier, next-generation networks becoming available, the market could become lucrative for hardware makers.

Palm OS licensee Handspring has its own Blazer browser, and Sony's Clie line of handhelds has not been focused on adding wireless connectivity. Palm itself does offer the i705 line of handhedls that could use the browser.

PalmSource's OS 5 is the culmination an effort to switch over to ARM processor technology to provide a performance boost to future handhelds as they compete against their counterparts running Microsoft's Pocket PC 2002 OS. Devices running the new PalmSource OS are expected in the fall.

This is the second Web Browser developed by the handheld company and is specifically for Palm OS 5. The new browser assumes that there is more horsepower on the handheld and allows the device to render more advanced Web pages so that the experience is closer to one on a desktop PC, according to David Creemer, a director of product marketing at PalmSource.

The previous browser also assumed that the networks were slower and therefore sent data through a proxy server. With the new browser, the proxy is not needed because it assumes that there are higher speed networks available.

PalmSource is in the process of being spun off from Palm as a separate company by year's end.