ACCESS still working on Garnet VM Beta after all this time

While getting caught up on some of my email before the Thanksgiving holiday, I noticed a message from ACCESS, which many of you might know as the company that took over the all-but-obsolete Palm OS a few years back. As mobile technologies kept evolving, their plans did as well, and Palm OS 5 (Garnet) was never updated beyond what was commonly seen on the Treo smartphones and Palm handhelds of the period.

Microsoft kept improving Windows Mobile to the point where even Palm itself decided to use it as the OS of choice on the Treo, and Palm OS started to become another footnote in the history books, but not before it introduced itself to another handheld device from Nokia.

In November 2007, ACCESS released their initial Garnet VM Beta for the Nokia Internet Tablet lineup, which was still in its prime and would now have the ability to run thousands of Palm OS apps that had been created over the years. Since native Maemo apps were still fairly limited, users would now be able to run their old favorites like Snappermail and DateBk5 on their Nokia handheld, not to mention the thousands of games. It was a perfect solution, or so it seemed, but there were some programs that had compatibility problems.

I remember trying each version of the VM Beta that came out with SlingPlayer, which was the only app I needed from my Palm days. Even though I had plenty of other ways to watch my Slingbox, having it on my N800 would have been perfect, since that was my everyday device at the time. Each version gave the same result, which was nothing. No sound, no video. 

Fast forward to today, and the VM Beta is now at version 5, a little more than two years after the first release. In this time, Palm OS apps have faded into obscurity even further, and the Nokia Internet Tablet will be relegated to the back row as the N900 and Maemo5 are now on the scene. Myself, I have no further desire to try the newest beta, and when I receive my N900 this coming Monday, I'll feel the same way about my N810WE.

I just checked some of my archived emails, and it looks like ACCESS has updated the VM Beta about every 6 months, with the prior version to this one coming out in May 2009. Now that they are clearly going in another direction, as seen in their new Linux-based ELSE Intuition platform which Jeremy briefly covered this past week, I am wondering if the Garnet VM project will ever leave beta status and if it really matters.

Besides being curious why development has even continued this long, I do have one other question: Does anyone out there still use the VM Beta with their Nokia N800, N810, or even the older N770? Let me know in the comments if you still have that one Palm app that you just can't give up yet.

[ACCESS Garnet VM Beta 5]
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Chris King

Chris King is a former contributing editor at Pocketables.

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