'Perpetual License' for Palm OS Secured

Palm handhelds with the Palm OS aren't going anywhere anytime soon. The company has signed a perpetual licensing agreement with the operating system's owner, Access Systems Americas.

The deal gives Palm access to the source code behind Palm OS Garnet, the version of the operating system used both in Treo smartphone models and Palm handheld computers. In exchange, Palm would make a $44 million payment to Access for the rights.

Access gained the rights to the Palm OS through its purchase of PalmSource in September of last year. Some worried that the move would signal the death of the operating system, however that has not been the case so far.

Palm would be able to use the code in whole and in part in any of its products, and in combination with other technologies. To support the vast ecosystem that has developed in association with the OS, Palm said it plans to ensure compatibility in future products with little or no modification necessary.

The company was vague as to what its future plans for the platform could be, and if it plans to integrate some of the Palm OS technologies into its implementation of the Windows Mobile platform. However, it did say the patent license covers products regardless of the operating system used.

"This agreement gives Palm increased ability to innovate on the Palm OS Garnet base, and to effectively differentiate Palm products long into the future," Palm business development senior vice president Mark Bercow said.

In related news, Palm also recommitted to the Windows Mobile 5.0 platform, saying it gave its customers a choice of operating environment. In announcing support for the OS last year, it cited that as one of the reasons for making the move.

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