Wind River is continuing its slow march toward the computing mainstream. (The illustration, from the Wind River site, shows the engagement model the company follows with its customers in producing products. It's careful and complicated.)
It's easy for someone to criticize Wind River's strategy as an attempt to maintain proprietary control in a world of open source, but the fact is there are opportunities here for the Always On world that need to be explained, and then seized.
Fact is Wind River's VxWorks is the leading RTOS out there. RTOS stands for Real Time Operating System, folks. An RTOS is used to make a device, not a system. You find RTOS's in things like your stereo, and your TV remote. What the device can do is strictly defined, and strictly limited. Your interaction with the device is also defined and limited.
An RTOS is not a robust, scalable, modular operating system like, say, Linux. And over the last few years, Wind River has been creeping into your world. VxWorks is used in most of your common WiFi gateways. This limits what they can do. They become "point" solutions. You can't run applications directly off a gateway, only off one of the PCs it's attached to.
Now, slowly, this is changing.
This is meaningful to more than just gateways.
With connections established between VxWorks and Linux, it means all those other devices that already exist in your home can come under computer control. Sure, you're going to want security in that control so some burglar doesn't just come along with his own super-remote and lock you out of your house while he absconds with your stuff. By doing this in a controlled manner, Wind River hopes to assure that doesn't happen.
But once those connections are established, you have the beginnings of an Always On world, for anyone who has WiFi. Other devices can fall under central control, albeit in a limited way, albeit from your PC (which shuts down at night) rather than your gateway (which doesn't need to). But that's a minor hurdle, very minor. When you have valuable applications (like security and medical applications) you'll just get a cheap laptop, connect it to your gateway, and load it with the necessary software. It's a kludge, but it's a short-term thing until the applications prove their value in the field.
As I said, Wind River is doing this for its own reasons. Wind River has no intention of giving away VxWorks, or the hold it has on the consumer electronics industry. Just because you're getting some toolkits to link open source to VxWorks doesn't mean VxWorks is open source.
But this is one more important step along a long, winding road, one that will result in Always On application sets, and radically changed lifestyles, faster than you imagine.