Operating systems taking account of multifunction hardware.
The increasing use of multi-function equipment is forcing large software companies to broaden the core operating systems they provide to handle the range of applications required by these machines, while also being able to accommodate the additional dedicated devices of the future.
This, in turn, is forcing companies such as Microsoft Corp. to increasingly enter into partnerships with external software developers to build applications that will further enhance their operating environments.
One such partner is VenturCom Inc., which provides products and services for the real-time and embedded Windows NT, Windows CE and Windows 2000 environments. In 1998, Microsoft took a 10 percent stake in the company and bought some of VenturComs embedded authoring tools, which helped Microsoft componentize Windows 2000.
Officials at VenturCom, in Cambridge, Mass., said that in the past, companies wanting to handle time-critical computing had to have a targeted computer or separate box specially configured for that function. VenturCom last week released its RTX 5.0 software, which adds support for Windows-2000-class systems and allows time-critical scheduling to be added to the operating system.
Mark Easter, manager of computer systems for Flight Safety Inc., in Broken Arrow, Okla., which develops and builds $10 million flight simulators that airlines use to train pilots, agrees with VenturComs notion that an increasing amount of horsepower is making its way into smaller form factors and every embedded system.
"We used to need a specific, dedicated real-time proprietary system to monitor our simulators, which cost hundreds of thousands of dollars," Easter said. "But now, with the evolution of technology, we are able to get those same real-time characteristics and the same level of performance from an off-the-shelf PC."
This streamlining has cut Flight Safetys costs in this area from $100,000, for the large, top-end system once used, to about $2,000, for a Gateway Inc. computer and additional software that now monitors the flight simulators. Flight Safety is also moving its platform from NT to Windows 2000 and is upgrading to VenturComs RTX 5.0. In addition, the company is also using other applications, such as Microsofts Office, on the Windows 2000 box.
While VenturComs focus is on the pervasive Windows platform, officials conceded that Linux is becoming pervasive as well.
Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.
He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.
He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.
He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.
He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.
He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.
His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.
For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at www.eweek.com.