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Palm OS Is Still a Contender

Reports of Palm OS's death have been greatly exaggerated. Although beleaguered by BlackBerry on one side and Windows Mobile on the other, recent announcements show this smartphone operating system still has some life left.

First came the launch of the Palm OS-based Treo 700p on May 15. Just a week later, Verizon made the 700p available to subscribers on its 1xEV-DO network (Evolution-Data Optimized is a high-speed wireless radio data standard), and Sprint announced availability of the 700p for its service.

Should enterprises with smartphone users care? You bet. Beyond the welcome EV-DO support, the 700p outshines its Windows Mobile sibling (the 700w) with niceties including a 320x320 screen, DUN (Dial-Up Networking) service and out-of-the-box support for Exchange 2003 ActiveSync. Wi-Fi capabilities are conspicuous by their absence, however.

It's also unlikely that Palm will dump its own OS in favor of Windows Mobile, for its cash-cow Treos. Palm recently signed a long-term agreement with PalmSource, which develops the Palm OS, and that relationship looks solid, though the next generation of the OS will almost certainly be built on the new Linux platform instead of the increasingly antiquated Palm OS 5.

The jury is still out on whether Windows Mobile will crush all competitors, but for the moment, the Palm 700p outperforms the 700w in several key areas. Palm OS is a viable option for smartphone deployments requiring a high data rate and all the bells and whistles.