PalmSource, the operating system division of PDA (personal digital assistant) maker Palm, yesterday announced it will discontinue its Graffiti handwriting recognition software on Palm handhelds in favour of Jot technology.

The Jot software will be renamed Graffiti 2.0 and will be embedded in current and future versions of the OS.

According to PalmSource officials, Jot emulates more natural printing input. While in Grafitti a user has to write an upside down 'L' to depict a 't', in Jot the same letter is written as a plain 't'.

"Users don't have to read a manual," said Michael Higashi, director of OS Marketing for PalmSource in Sunnyvale.

However, the punctuation is more of an effort. "You have to do an upstroke instead of a dot," said Higashi.

While the new software may make most users happier, the same may not be said for retailers who still have plenty of the older Grafitti-based Palm OS devices on their shelves. If the Jot software is so much easier, why wouldn't a buyer hold off purchasing a device until the new software is incorporated into Palm-based models?

"Manufacturers choose when they want to roll it out," said Marlene Somsak from Palm Solutions Group.

Palm SG intends to deliver Grafitti 2.0 products in this calendar year but Somsak would not give a more precise date.

One industry analyst called Jot an "interim solution". "CIC is not bad and will serve until the migration to all keyboard handhelds is complete," said David Hayden, principle analyst with MobileWeek in California.

According to Hayden, large numbers of consumers are buying handhelds with keyboards. Hayden cited Handspring which had two handheld models — one with a keyboard and one with Grafitti. "Over 90 percent of the buyers chose the model with the keyboard," he said.

Besides the handwriting recognition, the Jot technology will recognise English and European characters that are based on the Roman alphabet.