Embedded Windows systems architect revisiting platform choice

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.

TOPICS: Windows
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.

Topic: Windows

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  • So what's his message for Gates and Ballmer?

    <em>and he has a message for Microsoft's Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer.</em>
    <p>So, what is his message? The article seems to stop just when it gets interesting. Am I missing something?
    • So what's his message for Gates and Ballmer

      You have to listen to the broadcast (they call it a podcast) to find out. The article has links to a couple of different ways that you can listen to the interview.
  • Alternative OSes

    I am a Linux advocate and have to applaud their examination of Linux as a replacement of Windows XPe, but I have a few questions/comments about alternatives.

    First, there are, litterally, hundreds of Real Time operating systems out there that will give them more bang for the buck than XPe. It would allow them to take advantage of the power of their main processor and not have to use peripheral processors (the Z80s he mentioned). The main problem with XPe is that it does not guarantee hardeware interrupts in a timely fashion, so you have to add other hardware to buffer data. A true real time operating system will allow them to process the data in a timely fashion. BTW, there are several flavors of embedded Linux out there too. The companies providing these RTOSes support them and know their market.

    Second, since their application is already developed for a Windows platform, have they considered Windows CE? It is much closer to an embedded RTOS than XPe (though not as good as many of the other RTOSes out there) and would mean minimal porting of their applications. WinCE represents a subset of Win32, so many of the system calls are the same. It is configurable (as he wants) and can be run on a number of different hardware platforms. I was part of a team building a headless WinCE factory automation device that had to deal with similar environmental issues to Miles'.

    Good luck.
  • Embedded Windows Systems architect....

    I think we both missed it....which is why I'm downloading the .MP3 story. Which should, I hope, hold the answer???

  • Linux Distros

    I'm surprised that the gentleman hasn't looked at a "lower" level of linux... If I were him I'd would've looked at slackware, gentoo, or linux from scratch... Not Badmouthing the others mentioned.. But they are a bit more geared towards big iron and desktops...
  • Which one for the Home Operating System?

    I sold a company recently that specialised in Home Automation. We focused on the Micosoft Media Centre but this was too unreliable to be trusted with home secuity, appliances and other critical applications. A real-time OS is needed and that is why this article is interesting.

    I have looked at Windows CE, Embedded XP and Linux. A real time OS in a small black box under the stairs with USB ports, Wifi features and remote assistance etc is needed to make home automation a reality but that is some time away yet - isn't it?