The Symbian Foundation said it will release a beta version of its open-source Symbian^2 mobile operating system within the next few weeks, and expects that devices powered by the software will hit retail in the first half of 2010. David Wood, the non-profit initiative's catalyst and futurist, tells IDG News Service that Symbian^2 will soon be "functionally complete," and while the Symbian Foundation will not add subsequent features, it will spend the remainder of 2009 "hardening" the software according to developer feedback and fine-tuning the OS for commercial release. Wood adds that the foundation is also at work on a Symbian^2 product development kit for manufacturers planning to create devices powered by the new OS.
Wood admitted the process of creating Symbian^2 has proven longer than anticipated, citing integration issues around software owned by parties other than Symbian Limited or Nokia, which acquired the remaining shares of the mobile software licensing company in mid-2008. "This is the kind of engineering issue that will come up naturally when open-sourcing a very large software system," Wood said. He adds that developers are already reporting bugs, which the foundation hoped for: "I am hoping that this isn't going to deter the package owners from moving their code quickly into open source. I am hoping they're going to say 'The good news is that the person who has reported these bugs hasn't just said there is a bug, but also how to fix it.'"
Wood notes that while less than 10 percent of the Symbian code has become open source, that figure is rising steadily, and the Symbian Foundation remains on track for the entire platform to go open source by June 2010.
For more on Symbian^2's progress:
- read this Techworld article
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