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Singapore-made OS runs Windows, Palm, Linux apps

Two Singaporean inventors who say they've created an operating system that can run programs written for Windows, Linux and Palm will formally launch the product this month.

Two Singaporean inventors who say they've created an operating system that can run programs that are written for Windows, Linux and Palm will formally launch the product this month.

This unveiling comes after a year's delay, marked by difficulties in finding investors and the addition of "critical new features," said R. Chandra, CEO of Radixs, which was previously known as Intramedia.

"Our biggest problem was that the investment climate was bad. We were in a business that no one had heard of in Singapore or Asia," he said.

But with funding in hand, the company has firmed up deals with handheld makers and mobile operators for the commercial launch of wireless services that use the OS. That launch is expected to take place at the end of the year.

Chandra declined to name the handheld makers or the mobile operators before the official launch this month at the Demomobile 2003 trade show in La Jolla, Calif.

The MXI OS apparently allows a computer to run programs that are written for the Windows, Linux or Palm operating systems. Radixs asserts that MXI performs a sophisticated form of emulation that enables the nonnative program to perform as smoothly and quickly as it would on its native OS.

A second piece of the OS runs on a handheld computer that's equipped with wireless communications.

When the handheld user runs a program, the bulk of the program's execution takes place on the MXI server. Just enough data is beamed to the MXI handheld to allow a person to view and interact with the document. The document that's acted upon--a text file, spreadsheet or image--is not stored on the handheld but on the server.

In this manner, even less-powerful handhelds can run resource-intensive desktop programs, asserts Radixs' chief technology officer, Sam Hon Kong Lum.

Chandra also promised that at the launch this month, the company will showcase "exciting" hardware that will overcome the problems that come with running desktop applications on a handheld.

And the low data requirements of MXI wireless communications allow the system to be used with slower GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) cellular communications, although improved responsiveness and richer streaming media will be possible with third-generation (3G) data networks, the CTO said.

There are several software emulators available that allow programs that are written for one platform to be executed within another. These allow, for example, Atari programs to be run on a Windows PC, PlayStation games to be used on a Macintosh or Windows applications to be run inside Linux.

Unlike these, Radixs asserts, MXI is itself an operating system, not a "virtual environment" within a mainstream operating system. In addition, the company said, MXI allows programs that are written for several other platforms to be run within it, rather than just one.

The company's business model lies in selling the OS as a service to mobile operators, who, in turn, provide wireless applications to subscribers.

The company has about 40 workers, including 25 software developers. They all work in Singapore.

John Lui of CNETAsia reported from Singapore.

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