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Palm: We're not abandoning Palm OS

Facing concern from developers, CEO Ed Colligan reiterates the company's support for its namesake operating system.

Palm's chief executive on Tuesday reiterated the company's support for its namesake operating system, even as the company readies its first Windows-based Treo.

"I'm writing to you today because I'm concerned by the number of posts I've read that suggest that Palm's support of Palm OS is either wavering or short-lived," Palm CEO Ed Colligan said in a letter to Palm developers. A Palm representative said the letter will be posted to the company's developer Web site later on Tuesday. "It is neither."

Palm announced in September that it will soon start selling a Windows-based Treo, a break from its historical exclusive use of the Palm OS. Palm said at the time that it would continue to develop new handhelds and phones using the Palm OS, but concerns have lingered, particular as the developer of the Palm OS, PalmSource, is in the process of being acquired by Japan's Access. Palm also recently signed a deal that will allow Treo phones to connect to Research In Motion's BlackBerry servers.

Colligan said in the letter that he thought he had been clear on the point, but wanted to reiterate his earlier statements.

"This is not a zero-sum game!" he said. "This market is in its infancy, and if we can expand our opportunities by being a strong cross-platform provider of world-class smart phone products, then we should do so."

Colligan cited the strong demand for Windows-based products, particularly from businesses.

"It's a fact that a large majority of businesses around the world use a Microsoft-based infrastructure across their IT assets," Colligan said. "And many of those companies simply aren't open to products that use another OS...We can either answer that marketplace demand with a Windows-based product, or we can walk away from that business."

Palm did not talk about specific forthcoming Palm OS-based products, but Colligan said, "We have a rich product road map of Palm OS-based handheld computers, mobile managers AND Treo smart phones that we intend to deliver."

He also characterized Access' purchase of PalmSource as a good thing. "We're pleased Access has initiated the purchase of PalmSource because we believe Access has the resources to really invest in and develop Palm OS," Colligan said.

Debate over the future of the Palm OS has raged on various Palm enthusiast sites, fueled by a since-retracted trade magazine article that suggested Access would cease development of the Palm OS.