Home > Wireless > The PalmOS Cobalt Advantage: Ford vs Chevy The PalmOS Cobalt Advantage: Ford vs Chevy Eugenia Loli 2004-03-20 Wireless 11 Comments Since PalmSource’s DevCon last month, there’s been a lot of bickering about PalmOS Cobalt’s ability to multitask compared to Windows Mobile. It’s not really an issue, and here’s why. Get more at NMC. About The Author Eugenia Loli Ex-programmer, ex-editor in chief at OSNews.com, now a visual artist/filmmaker. Follow me on Twitter @EugeniaLoli 11 Comments 2004-03-20 11:59 am The old BeOS vs Windoze argument and the differences seem,at least to my uneducated eye,the same as the desktop systems,and while BeOS was always IMO somewhat superior to Win98,there was always a lack of drivers and apps that made completely abandoning the M$ platform impossible,and the bottom line here ,I suspect will also be which system has the Most applications and fuctionality.Myself,I’m rooting for Palm because I always loved BeOS and still use it a lot,and Cobalt has it’s roots in BeOS and was developed by many of the same folks,so here’s hoping they provide enough fuctionality to Compete and possibly stay ahead of M$!Meanwhile I’m still gonna stick to my laptop as none of these devices seem to have everything I want in a portable computing device. 2004-03-20 12:56 pm oh yeah,… it’s always lovely, to see the BeOS technology alive! 2004-03-20 3:09 pm That Windows Movie multi-threading technology seems to be poorly designed (just like Windows on the desktop). BeOS on a 300MHz machine is more responsive than Windows XP on a 3000MHz machine. Hmmm..It must be the engineers, and we all know where they are working now. 😉 2004-03-20 4:18 pm Generally Windoes Mobile PDAs come with more memory than most models of Palm so the author of this article kind of leads it to a confusing spot for some users. Most people use either SD or some CF cards so they won’t install much software into the RAM. I have a 64MB PDA and it runs fine, I use mine much as an MP3 player and most games are playable even when I’m listening to music, except for ofcourse Quake (it’s possible to play Quake but the music gets disturbed sometimes, expecially when there is much shooting going on and a slight drop of framerate) . I play for example Age Of Empires or the Lucas Arts Classic ‘Day of the tentacle’ with my WMA files playing fine, then I quit the game, start some programs, I haven’t encountered a memory problem since I got my storage card. Now after reading this I tryed to run insane nunmber of programs, something most people will never do while listening to music, music played constantly and I started few games, plus bluetooth and stuff, when I loaded so much of unneeded programs it automatically cloesed some of the inactive programs so I didn’t see any problem except for sometimes when playing more than one sound at once. It’s very easy to get programs to handle the close program problem and most of them are freeware and another are included by the manifactor of each PDA. I use Wisbar Advance with good resault, it’s a skinnable freeware. Most WM2003 are better suited as MP3 / Video players than Palm, USUALLY only the more expensive palms such as the Sony ones are comperable in that field. 2004-03-20 6:08 pm The article leaves a lot to be desired. It’s explanation of PocketPC contains several factual errors. The author claims “When you run a program on a Windows Mobile device, the program is copied from Storage memory to Program memory (and hence, while you’re running it, it takes up twice as much space as normal) and it stays in both places until you or the system closes it.” This is false. PocketPC 2002 and 2003 have a technology called XIP (eXecute In Place), which avoids this copying. Also, data in storage memory is automatically compressed. He also claims “If you have a lot of applications sitting in the background that aren’t doing anything useful, how do you get rid of them? The official answer is that you don’t.” This is simply wrong. In the Memory control panel, click on the Runnig Programs tab. There you can select which programs you want to quit. 2004-03-20 6:41 pm theory is nice but how about real world results. Cobalt to my knowledge is not available to anyone but developers and not available on any commercial devices for an evaluation. nuances in implementation play a very important role in actual performance hence the beos experience. We shall see when actual devices come out what cobalt is capable of. 2004-03-20 6:43 pm Just to add to what’s been already said, take the iPaq line of PDAs for example. There’s a “Q” hardware button that pops up a little menu showing all running programs. I can elect to close just one particular program running in the back ground or I can close all of them. The Dell Axim have an on-screen button located in the middle of the title bar and is always visible (like a top-level window). The button will also pop up a list of running programs for the user to close on demand. But I believe this is proprietary to Dell PocketPCs because I did not see it on another NEC PocketPC running the same version of OS. The PDA makers recognize this as an issue and have found solutions to over come it, MS will license out the PocketPC OS source code for these kinds of tweaks. I’d much rather MS come up with a standard method of killing background processes so we don’t have to keep do it differently for each PPC. 2004-03-21 1:10 am That windows isn’t ready for the handheld market. Seriously, palmOS is designed for handhelds, and it shows. 2004-03-21 5:12 am I beg to differ. Embedded Windows has many things going for it, and it is gaining more and more users. PalmOS devices still have many faithful users I’m not denying that. To say that PalmOS is designed for handhelds and embedded Windows is not ready, is inaccurate. PalmOS is designed for PDAs: Personal Data Assistent. It works great as an appointment book, and keeping contacts within reach. But for more sophisticated applications (mapping, real web browsing, and complex databases/spreadsheets) it can be a burden, or the solutions are slow in developing. Try writing complex apps for PalmOS *without* a filesystem. That means you don’t open files and write directly to them. 2004-03-21 6:09 am TLy is right. PalmOS 3/4/5 “feels” more PDA-friendly to the *user* when things do work, however the OS itself sucks big time (even some PalmSource engineers tell me that from time to time I bought a SONY Clie TH55 just this week and when an app dies, the whole OS dies most of the time, and I had to do at least 10 soft resets so far (in 3 days that I own the PDA) and 1 hard reset. Windows Embedded is not as bad in these kinds of things. 2004-03-22 3:48 am i sent this to the author… I imagine you are getting a lot of responses to your “Ford vs Chevy” article, including buckets full of flames or just emails from generally misinformed folks. This is not a silly email by a stupid person, so if you’ve the time, please read on. It also sounds like you’re a bit biased toward the Palm OS. That’s fine. I’m biased towards the Newton, so sue me. But I feel some of your comments need to be addressed. The issue of Palm OS 6’s multitasking goes beyond a silly “Ford vs Chevy” argument. I have played with the POS 6 simulator quite a bit, and at first was very confused as to how one multitasks. I am happy to have recieved clarification via your article- confirmation of my worst fears. It seems that POS 6 does not multitask- it only has multithreading. Your analysis of the way PocketPC does multitasking is a bit off. The whole thing about “minimizing” to the background is an artefact of the crappy UI in WM/PPC, not the way that PPC/WM/WinCE does things. I have yet to figure out why they do things that way, but a lot of the folks I know have that feature turned off. When I had a PPC, I used an app called Magic Button <http://www.trancreative.com/mb/> that changed this; when you tapped on an “x” it closed the app, not just hid it. I do not understand Microsoft’s choice to only have the app pushed into the background- it’s an easy area to pick on. However, it is something easily fixed. Outside of that, there really is nothing “Ford vs Chevy” about the differences in the way multitasking is done. It is a very sharp difference in capability. WinCE can manage both multithreading *and* multitasking, whereas the Palm OS can only do multithreading. Sure, that’d be “Ford vs Chevy” if the Ford had the standard 1-5 gears as well as reverse, whilst the Chevy only had 1-4. If that were the case, Ford fanatics would have a reason to continue to make fun of the gimpiness of the Chevy model. Rather, we power users of the Palm OS have been misled by Palm. I want to be able to run two programs at one time. With the exception of my Sony Clie NX-70V, I have been able to multitask- run different apps at the same time- on every PDA I have ever owned, from the first Newton I had (manufactured ca. 1993) to an iPAQ 3150 I had a couple years ago, from my Sharp Zaurus C760 to my Sigmarion 3 handheld PC running CE.NET 4.1. Granted, a lot of folks don’t care about multitasking apps, but there are a lot of us out there who do. I want to be able to let an app do something in the background if I need to go into another app. With the examples you mentioned, the web browsing download was one of my biggest annoyances with the NX-70V with a wifi card. And yes, that annoyance will be removed. But how is it achieved? By use of a special threading API. Palm’s choice to do this means that I can only do something in the background if the develop of the app thought of every contingency, considered any possible way I may use their app. Naturally, no developer can know that, and this way of doing things will do on limiting me and what I can get done on the Palm platform. No matter how you dress it up, it is still pretty disapointing. No matter how much you say that it’s a better way of multitasking on a resource limited computer, the facts simply do not change: in the end, you are left with a very powerful computer and a very, very limited OS.