Embedded Windows systems architect revisiting platform choice

Summary:Meet Miles Wade. From now on, when I hear about those serious missioncritical systems that are used in those heartland industries that drivethe economy, I will be thinking about Mr.

Meet Miles Wade. From now on, when I hear about those serious mission critical systems that are used in those heartland industries that drive the economy, I will be thinking about Mr. Wade. Wade designs hardened systems for the oil exploration industry -- systems that must survive the rigors of a drilling platform in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico equally as well as they must survive the sub-zero temperatures of foribidding climates where other oil reserves exist, without remote intervention. For the most part, these systems are unreachable through the Internet and the personnel in the field who rely on the systems for their personal safety are not savvy enough to fix the systems if something goes wrong. These are systems that can't go down.

So far, the systems Wade designs are based on the embedded version of Windows XP, otherwise known as XPe. The applications that the systems run keep close watch on what's going on "in the hole" are are all based on Windows. But even though some expense would be involved in rewriting those applications, as Wade tells me in ZDNet's fourth podcast interview why he's being driven to alternatives (download the MP3 or subscribe to the feed with an RSS aggregator that supports enclosures). Strangely, neither security nor licensing costs, two areas of weakness for Windows' when compared to Linux, rank high in Wade's decision making. Not only does he see some advantages in embedded Linux over XPe, he also feels as though he's on his own when it comes to supporting XPe -- a state of of affairs that wouldn't change if he moved to Linux.

Overall, Wade's preference is to stay with XPe. But as he tells David, Microsoft isn't making it easy and he has a message for Microsoft's Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer.

Topics: Windows


David Berlind was fomerly the executive editor of ZDNet. David holds a BBA in Computer Information Systems. Prior to becoming a tech journalist in 1991, David was an IT manager.

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