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RISCOS 4 FAQ - Febuary 1999

Who owns RISCOS Ltd?
Will we be seeing RISCOS appearing on new generations of Network Computers?
Does this mean that RISCOS Ltd will be the sole developer of RISC OS?
Are there any ex-Acorn staff working behind the scenes for RISCOS Ltd?
How many staff will RISCOS Ltd have?
When will RISCOS 4 be released?
Why will it take so long when Acorn planned to release it in late January?
We thought that RISCOS 4 was only going to work on Risc Pc's with revision T StrongARMs?
Wasn't RISC OS 4 going to be soft-loaded from disc?
Isn't RISC OS 4 just a RISC OS 3 with some pretty new icons and a new configuration system?
Why is RISC OS 4 so expensive?
How many hardware manufacturers are signed up to use RISC OS 4?
Why are you keeping the RISC OS name after Element 14 dropped the Acorn name?


Who owns RISCOS Ltd?

A number of interested parties have subscribed for shares in RISCOS Ltd. There is no single individual or organisation who has any majority share. Element 14 Ltd are acquiring a 19.9% shareholding as part of the agreement. (They obviously think we have as good a chance as ARM Ltd at being successful and want to make sure that they profit from our success!)

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Will we be seeing RISCOS appearing on new generations of Network Computers?

RISCOS Ltd and Element 14 Ltd have clearly defined markets in which we will both operate. RISCOS Ltd will be supplying RISCOS to the desktop computer market whilst, Element 14 will be concentrating on the Set Top Box / Network Computer and Digital TV markets. Element 14 Ltd have not as yet made a decision on what Operating System they will use in their next generations of Network Computers.

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Does this mean that RISCOS Ltd will be the sole developer of RISC OS?

RISCOS Ltd has currently licensed the sources for RISC OS 3.8 from Element 14 Ltd. RISCOS Ltd will develop RISC OS for the desktop market. Element 14 Ltd will develop RISC OS for their (non desktop) markets. It is hoped that RISCOS Ltd and Element 14 Ltd will cooperate on future RISC OS releases.

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Are there any ex-Acorn staff working behind the scenes for RISCOS Ltd?

No, the management and control of RISCOS Ltd has come completely from the ranks of Acorn Dealers and Developers. Neither Peter Bondar, Chris Cox or any other ex-Acorn management are playing any part in RISCOS Ltd. Paul Middleton, along with the other members of the Steering Committee, has worked independently to bring his vision for the future of RISCOS to fruition.

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How many staff will RISCOS Ltd have?

At present there are 4 full time employees and two part-time. That number will rise to about 7 or 8 as the plans for RISC OS develop.

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When will RISCOS 4 be released?

It is hoped that it will be shown working on all current Risc PC and A7000 platforms at the Wakefield Show in May. It is hoped that a limited number of upgrades will be available for purchase at the show, with a full ROM release in June.

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Why will it take so long when Acorn planned to release it in late January?

The announcement from Acorn before Christmas was badly worded. RISC OS 4 was primarily developed for use with Phoebe and very little testing has been done on other platforms. We need to have time to do that testing and add on further enhancements, before release. There are also practical matters such as the time needed to produce the physical ROMs.

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We thought that RISCOS 4 was only going to work on Risc Pc's with revision T StrongARMs?

RISCOS 4 will work best if a Revision T StrongARM is fitted, but it is NOT essential. The average end-user is unlikely to be able to tell the difference between the different types of StrongARM.

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Wasn't RISC OS 4 going to be soft-loaded from disc?

RISC OS 4 will be supplied on ROM as before. With the falling cost of RAM prices there will be an option to soft load it into memory to overlay the ROM, but it will not be supplied in a form that can purely be loaded from disc as that defeats the whole philosophy of RISC OS.

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Isn't RISC OS 4 just a RISC OS 3 with some pretty new icons and a new configuration system?

No. Many areas of RISC OS have been totally re-written and so offer considerable speed improvements over RISC OS 3.7. The major advantages of RISC OS 4 are its support for long-filenames and large hard discs.

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Why is RISC OS 4 so expensive?

RISC OS 4 is the first major upgrade for current machines since RISC OS 3, which was first released 8 years ago. RISC OS 3 upgrades originally cost 89 inc VAT. During the same period an upgrade from DOS to Windows 95 would have cost 135 and a further upgrade to Windows 98 would cost 89 (source Watford Electronics adverts). The price of RISC OS 4 upgrades has been set to allow for the future development of RISC OS not to make a fat profit for RISCOS Ltd. Don't forget that RISCOS Ltd is not making hardware, so it cannot use profits from computers to subsidise operating system software.

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How many hardware manufacturers are signed up to use RISC OS 4?

It is too early to make announcements about hardware partnerships at present.

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Why are you keeping the RISC OS name after Element 14 dropped the Acorn name?

There is not enough time to introduce another new name to the public. Most people know the RISC OS name as well as the Acorn name so it was decided to keep the RISC OS to show the continued link with the old Acorn machines.

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