I received a TON of feedback from my recent post Linux in Embedded Systems - The Windows side of the story.  this looked at Windows CE and Windows XP Embedded and how they compared with Linux (thanks everyone for your comments!) – a number of the comments pointed to Linux being free, so I decided to do some digging…

Let’s say that I wanted to build a consumer electronics device that supported playing music files, and an e-mail client using Linux, should be pretty straight forward to build such a device, right?. What are the requirements for this device ?

The most common music format being supported on digital music devices is MP3 (or Windows Media Audio) – so we would probably need an MP3 decoder, these are available from Fraunhofer at a license cost of $0.75 per device. What about the e-mail client, these are available from thekcompany for $2.00 per device (based on more that 10,000 units being shipped) – Do I spot a trend here ? – it would seem from reading the Embedded Market Forecasters Total Cost of Development (TCD) report (Page 28, Appendix D) that there are a number of runtime component technologies that need to be licensed (and integrated) into an embedded Linux device – These two components are just an example, I would guess that there’s also a bunch of other technologies out there that I would need to license and integrate.

I wonder how this equates to “Free” ?

Also in the feedback from the previous post was a request for a real world case study that shows why a customer chose Windows Embedded technologies over Linux – Check out this Wyse Case Study as an example.

<Snip>Wyse Technology is the worldwide market leader in thin client computing devices. As customers demand more sophisticated, powerful functionality on user desktops, Wyse turned to the Microsoft Windows® XP Embedded operating system to continue delivering cost-effective devices that could be designed with the broad features of Windows XP.

Wyse became an early adopter of the Windows XP Embedded operating system, choosing it over Linux and other embedded systems to develop the next generation of its Winterm Windows Custom-Application Terminals, or WinCATs. Jeff McNaught, vice president of market strategy for Wyse, says Windows XP Embedded helps the company deliver devices that provide the security, management, and cost advantages to thin client environments while offering the rich information access of a traditional, networked PC.

"Windows XP Embedded lets us give our customers thin client benefits such as ease of operation and low TCO, but it also provides the power and flexibility to access a wide range of peripherals or run custom software locally if that's what they choose," McNaught says. "Also, because it is a componentized version of Windows XP Professional, it has much broader peripheral support than competitive operating systems such as Linux. That makes it easy for customers to attach hardware such as smart card readers, biometric devices, and other peripherals to the thin client. This is critical to us because it is what our customers need, plus it helps our ISVs and other partners get complete solutions to their markets much faster."

Ward Nash, the Wyse product manager overseeing the development of Wyse's next-generation Windows XP Embedded-based devices, says Windows XP Embedded's rich support for USB connections and peripherals presents a powerful incentive for Wyse customers.

"Linux is not the way to go if you need peripherals," Nash says. "While the operating system might be free, you wind up spending a lot of time and money in development efforts to get peripherals to work with it. Windows XP Embedded makes it so much easier and less expensive to get our devices to market, and makes it easier to sell our thin client devices to customers."

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Comments ?

– Mike