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Palm hosting CES event, could be OS preview

Palm watchers are expecting the company to at least show off its new Nova operating system during a press conference Palm has called for the Thursday of CES week.

Palm is inviting the media to a CES event.

Palm will look to put a rough year in the rearview mirror at CES with what could be a preview of its new operating system.

The company started sending out invitations Wednesday to an event at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas on the Thursday of CES week, promising a look at "all that Palm New-ness you've been waiting for." The most likely guest of honor at that event is Palm's next-generation "Nova" operating system, which has been delayed several times but is crucial to the company's chances of regaining a foothold in the mobile computing market.

Nova is based on Linux, and is expected to bring the Palm-branded operating system into the modern era of computing. You can trace the beginning of Palm's decline as a mobile computing innovator to the 2003 decision to separate into two companies, one that developed the operating system (Palmsource) and one that developed the hardware (Palm).

Palm wound up having to nurture the 2004-era Palm OS version into the present day after Palmsource and later Access never produced anything deemed useful; it still runs the Palm Centro. The company wisely hooked up with Microsoft to release Windows Mobile-based Treos, but has longed to once again design a complete product, hardware and software.

Nova is not expected to appear on devices until later in 2009, and few details have emerged as to what Palm has up its sleeve. The first week of January should give a sense of whether Palm has managed to make a real breakthrough in mobile computing, or merely caught up to the rest of the world.