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The Icon Bar: News and features: RISCOS Ltd. aquire rights for ANT Suite

RISCOS Ltd. aquire rights for ANT Suite

Posted by Tim Fountain on 01:10, 2/5/2001 | ,
RISCOS Ltd. have announced an agreement with ANT which gives them the rights to support, develop and market all of the ANT Internet Suite except the Web browser Fresco. The product will be renamed the RISC OS Internet Suite, and "key components" will be integrated into future versions of RISC OS.

ROL MD Paul Middleton said in the press release:

"As the first integrated Internet connection package for use with RISC OS, [the ANT Suite] set the standards by which other packages are now judged. This move will allow us to offer continued availability of the Internet Suite to the large market of desktop users who currently use the suite, as well as new users."
It seems like a logical step for RISCOS Ltd. to take, as the once-popular suite has seen almost no development (on the RISC OS side at least) since ANT started to switch their attention to the embedded systems market; and "lack of Internet software" is a regular (if out-dated) criticism of the operating system. It will be interesting to see whether the company will actually be improving and updating the components or whether users will continue to use commercial and freeware alternatives.
  RISCOS Ltd. aquire rights for ANT Suite
  (07:27 2/5/2001)
  Paul Middleton (08:19 2/5/2001)
    Gunnlaugur Jonsson (10:00 2/5/2001)
      Lee Johnston (11:01 2/5/2001)
        Rob Kendrick (12:19 2/5/2001)
          Richard Walker (12:52 2/5/2001)
            Richard Goodwin (13:44 2/5/2001)
              TheDoctor (14:44 2/5/2001)
                Tim Fountain (15:09 2/5/2001)
                  Paul Middleton (16:44 2/5/2001)
                    Lee Johnston (17:13 2/5/2001)
                      Robert Richards (20:54 2/5/2001)
                        Paul Biggs (00:29 3/5/2001)
                          Lee Johnston (07:40 3/5/2001)
                            mark quint (13:52 3/5/2001)
                              James Sargent (15:18 3/5/2001)
                                Robert Richards (17:17 3/5/2001)
                                  Annraoi (19:03 3/5/2001)
                                    Richard Murray (03:19 6/5/2001)
                                      Gareth Cumella (12:17 6/5/2001)
                                        Rob Kendrick (06:57 7/5/2001)
                                          David Eaton (20:55 7/5/2001)
                                            Richard Goodwin (08:37 8/5/2001)
                                              John Campbell Rees (20:12 8/5/2001)
                                                andrew (12:36 9/5/2001)
                                                  Richard Goodwin (08:27 10/5/2001)
                                                    Bob (13:43 10/5/2001)
                                                      Tim Fountain (14:13 10/5/2001)
                                                        Robert (17:42 10/5/2001)
                                                          Bob (19:04 10/5/2001)
Lee Johnston Message #88494, posted at 07:27, 2/5/2001
Unregistered user No Fresco huh? Is it worth it?

I'm also intrigued by the comments about integrating core components into RISC OS itself. I would assume by this they mean stuff like the dialler and maybe the email client. I wonder how RComp feel about this? If this is the case I would've thought doing a deal to get Dialup included with RISC OS would've been more sensible given it's more up to date and actively developed. Maybe "key components" means something else (I've never used the ANT Suite so I wouldn't know).

Still, along with the ressurection of the Acorn FTP site it's good to see some life coming from RISC OS Ltd.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
Paul Middleton Message #88495, posted at 08:19, 2/5/2001, in reply to message #88494
Unregistered user Just to clarify the situation, we will be selling the existing version of Fresco, but all future development of Fresco will be done solely by ANT.
We will be developing Marcel and the other components of the ANT Suite.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
Gunnlaugur Jonsson Message #88496, posted at 10:00, 2/5/2001, in reply to message #88495
Unregistered user This is both good and bad news!

Good for users if the connection suite is to be included in RISC OS (FINALLY!) and bad for software developers if Marcel and the likes are going to be distributed freely with RISC OS.

Now I don't mind getting a free e-mail program with my OS but I thought one of the reasons RISCOS Ltd. didn't want to include capabilities to read Joilet discs was that they didn't want to take a market from companies that had already developed such a solution. I'd like to see Joilet reading as a standard in RISC OS before I see a free e-mail client from RISCOS Ltd.

But great news to have an internet connection suite as part of RISC OS.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
Lee Johnston Message #88497, posted at 11:01, 2/5/2001, in reply to message #88496
Unregistered user So by selling the "existing version" with only ANT carrying out development of Fresco does this mean that newer versions of Fresco will appear on RISC OS (In the way that Castle distribute Oregano)?

This isn't clear and if newer versions of Fresco are not likely to appear is there any point in confusing the market by selling a product which is out of date and out of development?
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
Rob Kendrick Message #88498, posted at 12:19, 2/5/2001, in reply to message #88497
Unregistered user What about ANTTerm? This wasn't actually written by ANT, but by Hugo Fiennes, for which he gets a (small) cheque once a year.

I've recently spoken to him about the possibility of it being open sourced (as he still owns the copyright) as it needs some bugs fixing, and I have a feature wish-list a mile long. It all boiled down to what ANT thought. ANT, as always, showed superb customer support, and said nothing, not even an automatic reply to the original email.

Oh well, it sounded like an interested project for a while :)
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
Richard Walker Message #88499, posted at 12:52, 2/5/2001, in reply to message #88498
Unregistered user Well... it's about bloomin' time that RISC OS gets dial-up Internet connectivity (and mail/news fetching etc.) supplied out-of-the-box. EXCELLENT!

Also, one of the biggest problems with the ANT Internet Suite is that it didn't get on with Acorn's Internet setup. Thankfully, RISCOS Ltd. will (or should be!) sorting all this out... Lovely!

However, the email/news fetching aspect of the Suite is rather basic compared to POPstar/NewsHound. Will this be updated?

Similarly, Fresco is an awful web browser, and Marcel an awful email/news client. I suppose they are better then nothing, and will get people started... but, eugh!!!
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
Richard Goodwin Message #88500, posted at 13:44, 2/5/2001, in reply to message #88499
Unregistered user Fresco's not that awful, just a little too crash-prone for prolonged use and requiring a bit of updating now (table backgrounds, CSS, more than 14 text colours per page...). I still use it for testing new site designs.

I know work's been done on it, and at least some of these issues have been addressed, we just haven't seen them on the RISC OS desktop.

However, it sounds like it won't be included in RISC OS anyway, it'll be sold separately ("we will be *selling* the existing version of Fresco")?

No argument from me that Marcel is pretty dire, but I guess that's why ROL will be developing it (hopefully that means a complete re-write ;)
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
TheDoctor Message #88501, posted at 14:44, 2/5/2001, in reply to message #88500
Unregistered user I suppose RO Ltd know what they're doing with this, but I confess I don't.
We all agree that RO4 should have come with an integrated DialUp facility, but for whatever reason, it didn't. Fair enough.
Now we have R-Comps Dialup, which has obviously had a lot of work and effort put into it.
Sales of this will surely plummet when an integrated free option becomes availble.
As Lee said, surely an agreement of some sort with R-Comp would have been better for all concerned.
I've never used Marcel and gather that it is inferior to Pluto or MessPro. But, if it becomes available for free, and gets developed, how will this affect sales of the others?
Browsers? Well, even now, there are still a number of people web browsing with Webster and ArcWeb (amazing, I know!)
If people are given something like Fresco (even as it is now), how many are still going to shell out £58 for Oregano?

From the users point of view, free internet access and software is a good thing.
I wonder what the existing developers think.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
Tim Fountain Message #88502, posted at 15:09, 2/5/2001, in reply to message #88501
Unregistered user People won't be given a copy of Fresco - read Paul's comment above, ROL will be selling it separately. Whether we'll see any of ANT's upgrades to it on RISC OS is another story - lack of cooperation from ANT was why Argo dropped the suite wasn't it?

I think it's a good idea that RISC OS comes with a basic sort of connectivity suite, but is it best all round if the dialer etc. just gets bugfixes rather than being actively developed? This way RISC OS will be "Internet ready" out of the box, but users needing a better package supporting multiple ISPs etc. can upgrade to R-Comp's suite.

Although it seems odd to supply a browser-less Internet suite I think this is a good idea, as otherwise Oregano would eventually be phased out in the same way that Netscape users plumeted when Microsoft started supplying MSIE with the OS. I'm sure there will be an option to have Oregano/Fresco bundled with new machines anyway.

Hopefully ROL will be able to persuade ANT to let some of the Fresco updates filter through to RISC OS, providing some healthy competition to Oregano.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
Paul Middleton Message #88503, posted at 16:44, 2/5/2001, in reply to message #88502
Unregistered user I can see that people are getting confused about
which bits of the ANT Suite will be getting developed and by whom. A full Q & A sheet will be up next week. Putting it simply, all bits of the ANT Suite are to be developed. RISCOS Ltd will develop everything EXCEPT Fresco, which will be developed by ANT. HOWEVER at this stage ther is no
certainty that newer versions of Fresco will be available for the desktop market.
We shall be "selling" ALL the components of the ANT Suite so that you will have an out of the box Internet Suite. It is probable / possible that some manufacturers will wish to supply alternatives to Fresco / Marcel and the new RISC OS Internet Suite will allow that to happen. It will also mean that if users wish to upgrade specific parts of the RISC OS Internet Suite they may do so (with certain limitations).
The overwhelming request has been for RISC OS to have basic Internet Connection out of the box and
that we have now done.
We are not preventing the development of alternative browsers, email clients, diallers etc.
I hope that makes it clear!
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
Lee Johnston Message #88504, posted at 17:13, 2/5/2001, in reply to message #88503
Unregistered user Thanks Paul, for me at least that clears up the confusion.

One thing that's also worth bearing in mind is that some companies have already done deals to get various pieces of software bundled with their machines (ie RiscStation use RComp software, Castle obviously offer their own). I don't see any reason for this to stop (unless it leads to a substantial drop in price of the machines, which I can't see) so developers won't necessarily be frozen out.

I do agree that RISC OS needed somekind of out of the box solution though - even if only so we can say "look, we have it too!!"
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
Robert Richards Message #88505, posted at 20:54, 2/5/2001, in reply to message #88504
Unregistered user I don't understand this view that it's going to upset other developers. Every OS has internet support built in, it's about time RISC OS did. I don't see anything wrong with supplying a basic (or even quite advanced) suite with RISC OS. If you want soething better/different fine, go and buy it.
This is the sort of thing that is going to attract new users, and that can only be good for everyone in the market.

Someone made the comparison with there being no joliet support in CDFS because someone else does a third party add-on and it would hurt sales. Considering that piece of software doesn't work with some IDE interfaces, and that it's ridiculously over priced, I shouldn't think it gets many sales anyway.
This is the kind of thing that puts off new users. "Why are the filenames all upper case?" "Oh you need to spend another 35 quid for it to work properly...". I just use !CASE2Case :-)
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
Paul Biggs Message #88506, posted at 00:29, 3/5/2001, in reply to message #88505
Unregistered user RO Ltd has been slagged off for many reasons so it's nice to see some positive news. It's this sort of development that will give me the confidence to go out and buy an Omega/Castle Machine when available.

  ^[ Log in to reply ]
Lee Johnston Message #88507, posted at 07:40, 3/5/2001, in reply to message #88506
Unregistered user Robert - you only have to look at the IE fiasco on Windows to see that developers might get upset if a full, and advanced, suite is included with the OS.

You mention that people will go and buy alternatives if they want something different but in fact this rarely happens - especially with newcomers to the computing scene - they tend to stick with what they've got. In addition people are rarely aware of alternatives that are available. If people really were into alternatives then Netscape wouldn't have lost such a huge amount of market share.

Now currently the RISC OS market probably wouldn't full foul of this as the majority of the people in it seem to be very well informed about what the machines can do and what is available. However if we start attracting complete "newbies" they're likely to stick with what they have unless someone can demonstrate a distinct advantage in changing. At this point in time it can be argued that the market doesn't have the infrastructure for this.

However that said I do think it's a positive development and I still think you'll see machines being bundled with different software to do the same tasks.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
mark quint Message #88508, posted at 13:52, 3/5/2001, in reply to message #88507
Unregistered user hmmm but in the end Netscape looks repulsive and is pants ;)
fair enough, IE is microsoft but the fact is, its very powerful and works pretty nicely.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
James Sargent Message #88509, posted at 15:18, 3/5/2001, in reply to message #88508
Unregistered user Maybe the new software should included "crippled" demo versions of currently available browsers / email programs. That way a user wouldn't be supplied with any one application in preference to another, would be forced to buy a "real" version and would have been able to judge which they prefer.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
Robert Richards Message #88510, posted at 17:17, 3/5/2001, in reply to message #88509
Unregistered user Perhaps Castle/R Comp/Microdigital can come to some sort of agreement with ROL. You could have the RISC OS Internet Suite as the basic tools to get you started. But also included you could have a CD full of demo software. Like the crippled versions of Fresco and WebsterXL you often find on CD-based books and magazines.

Whatever happens, now is certainly not the time to stamp feet and complain it's hitting other businesses. It addresses a major criticism of RISC OS that puts people off the platform.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
Annraoi Message #88511, posted at 19:03, 3/5/2001, in reply to message #88510
Unregistered user Agreed, ROL have to congradulated on making a very "savvy" move that addresses many RISC OS users' concerns concerning Internet connectivity.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
Richard Murray Message #88512, posted at 03:19, 6/5/2001, in reply to message #88511
Unregistered user While I agree it would be nice to have RISC OS be internet-ready out of the box, the thing is...
1. Much better news/mail software exists
2. In the (almost) words of Tony Blair, Fresco Fresco Fresco!

People are going to think "Internet ready" and "websites". They'll need a reasonable browser.

Of course, this does raise an interesting question. What happened to the likes of !Connect and !Browse?

If Browse is now (officially?) dead, could somebody open source it? Please? It'd be a starting place, as the browsers we have are either seriously outdated or commercial.

Just my 0.02 euros worth...
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
Gareth Cumella Message #88513, posted at 12:17, 6/5/2001, in reply to message #88512
Unregistered user Okay, first of all I would just like to say that although Internet connectivity is a very useful facility to have on a RISCOS systems, shoudln't people be given the choice of the internet software they want to use.

I for one prefer to use the Voyager front-end for connecting, e-mail and web browsing, although I would prefer to have access to Oregano as opposed to Fresco, when I click the web icon.

Yes, maybe it's a good idea to incorporate Internet software into the RISCOS system, but anything but the Ant Suite, it's bad enough having to cope with Fresco.

I have never been impressed with any of the Ant Suites software components and I probably never will be. It is a very good thing that talents such as Paul Vigay and RISCOS ltd. are supporting and developing the software, but personally I think that there is better internet software out there which can be developed.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
Rob Kendrick Message #88514, posted at 06:57, 7/5/2001, in reply to message #88513
Unregistered user Here is the difference; Voyager was written to be easy to use, not very powerful. The ANT Suite was written properly. Make your own choice.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
David Eaton Message #88515, posted at 20:55, 7/5/2001, in reply to message #88514
Unregistered user The clients in Voyager as supplied are not very powerful, but can be trivially replaced - Voyager can have e.g. Oregano, FTPc, POPstar, NewsHound and Messenger Pro (or Pluto) respoding to the buttons/LEDs on the launcher very neatly instead of the supplied clients.
Of course the dialler will only dial Argonet, but as a launcher, with the rather cool VIXEN system, theme manager etc its pretty powerful and neat IMHO.

I have some suspicion that Voyager's stack/ArgoPPP is a bit flakey on less than ideal connections, though. Argo/Freedom2 ought to take the launcher/VIXEN/theme manager core, add a multi-ISP dialler that uses the Acorn Internet 5 stack and has INS-file drag-and-drop configuration, then just sell it as a dialler with VIXENs ready for the popular clients. I'd buy it ...
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
Richard Goodwin Message #88516, posted at 08:37, 8/5/2001, in reply to message #88515
Unregistered user Seeng as Voyager is supposed to be going open source RSN, you won't have to buy it - just wait until someone makes it multi-ISP friendly :)
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
John Campbell Rees Message #88517, posted at 20:12, 8/5/2001, in reply to message #88516
Unregistered user It goes without saying modern operating system should have built in internet connectivity supplied with it. However, simply bundling the entry level software is not good enough. RISC OS Ltd will have to work hard to make their version of the ANT Suite a top class product. Also, it is important that if someone doesn't like the supplied software, replacing it with an alternative must be as painless as possible.

  ^[ Log in to reply ]
andrew Message #88518, posted at 12:36, 9/5/2001, in reply to message #88517
Unregistered user ANT Suite is pretty powerful and reliable at the moment and given RISC OS Ltds record with high quality software development i think this will be easily within their capabilities. I've no worries in my mind in this area.

Good news and cause for nothing but optimism in my opinion.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
Richard Goodwin Message #88519, posted at 08:27, 10/5/2001, in reply to message #88518
Unregistered user To play devil's advocate here...

given that ROL don't appear to have any programmers, and that saying that they're about to give away free Internet software:

1. how quickly do you think we'll actually see anything?
2. and how badly will this hit other companies that are making a living selling Internet software (R-Comp, Castle etc.)?
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
Bob Message #88520, posted at 13:43, 10/5/2001, in reply to message #88519
Unregistered user Who said anthing about giving it away for free?
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
Tim Fountain Message #88521, posted at 14:13, 10/5/2001, in reply to message #88520
Unregistered user If it's going to be built into future versions of RISC OS then it's going to come with the machine. They're not exactly going to be charging £x for a machine and then charge £50 extra for the Internet suite (if so what would have been the point of taking over the suite?)

Whether existing users will be able to get the updated software without upgrading to a newer version of RISC OS is another matter.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
Robert Message #88522, posted at 17:42, 10/5/2001, in reply to message #88521
Unregistered user Who said ROL don't have any programmers? They've advertised for positions within the past few months.

Just because they don't have a staff list on the website doesn't mean that there isn't any staff.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
Bob Message #88523, posted at 19:04, 10/5/2001, in reply to message #88522
Unregistered user ROL don't have programmers on their staff at the moment.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]

The Icon Bar: News and features: RISCOS Ltd. aquire rights for ANT Suite