Tuesday, January 10, 2006

VDC Proprietary Operating Systems Report Highlights

Some interesting information from VDC’s recently completed 2005 Embedded Software Strategic Market Intellegence Program - Volume VII: Proprietary Operating Systems:

VDC’s developer survey found that 37.1% of the respondents use a non-commercial OS as part of their device development. This represents an ongoing migration for this population of developers, from 43.1% in 2001. The development and use of non-commercial OSs is a result of an era when developers had a lot of restrictions that included expensive hardware and limited and expensive memory.

Developers cite various reasons for the continued use of non-commercial OSs ranging from technical specifications to development and production costs. Considering these issues, some developers just do not see a compelling reason to adopt a commercial OS solution. It may be that the additional features offered by a commercial OS are just not required and don’t outweigh the additional resources (i.e., memory, etc.) that would need to be included or would exact performance penalties. In many cases, the needs of their application are extremely specific and the use of a non-commercial OS gives developers the ability to customize their environment to match their exact needs.

As customers demand smarter, more controllable devices, developers will look to increase software functionality. Adding new features to products increases the complexity of non-commercial OS software. Non-commercial OS users will look to switch to commercial OSs where this added functionality is available and allow developers to concentrate on their core competencies of developing discriminating features that will be attractive to the end user, rather than on software technologies that are transparent to the end user.

VDC expects the population of developers using a non-commercial OS – either proprietary or no formal OS – will decline in the future as networking, increasingly complex software, and advancing hardware will require commercial OSs. However, VDC expects the use of open source/free operating systems as a migration path to increase as technologies such as Linux mature and where there is already a growing interest by embedded software developers for its use.