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Glyn Moody's look at all levels of the enterprise open source stack. The blog will look at the organisations that are embracing open source, old and new alike (start-ups welcome), and the communities of users and developers that have formed around them (or not, as the case may be).

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Intel buys Wind River: the End of the Wintel Duopoly?

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This is big:

Intel Corporation has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Wind River Systems Inc, under which Intel will acquire all outstanding Wind River common stock for $11.50 per share in cash, or approximately $884 million in the aggregate. Wind River is a leading software vendor in embedded devices, and will become part of Intel's strategy to grow its processor and software presence outside the traditional PC and server market segments into embedded systems and mobile handheld devices. Wind River will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Intel and continue with its current business model of supplying leading-edge products and services to its customers worldwide.

It's a logical move for Intel, because at a stroke it strengthens hugely its presence in the fast-growing field of embedded, an area where it is currently under-represented. But it has some interesting implications because of the following:

Wind River develops operating systems, middleware (software found between an OS and software application), and software design tools for a variety of embedded computing systems. Its main products include VxWorks, the market-leading proprietary and multicore-ready real-time operating system, and commercial-grade Linux software platforms.

Obviously, Intel has to tread carefully here, since it can't trumpet that Linux side too much, but the reality is rather stronger than those neutral statements would suggest.

When I interviewed Wind River's Chief Marketing Officer last year, here's what he said when I explored the Linux angle:

What's the kind of split between the VxWorks and Linux, in terms of revenue?

Today about 80% of our revenue is VxWorks, but the fastest-growing segment of our business is Linux. It's growing in the triple digits quarter over quarter over quarter. We announced it well north of $50 million for us this year.

Next: Do you think one day you'll ever be wholly open source?

Do you think one day you'll ever be wholly open source?

Wholly? I don't think so. There will always be certain types of devices in which VxWorks will be a superior solution. But the Linux portion of our business will continue to grow, and I see a day where our Linux business is every bit as big as the VxWorks business.

That is, he expected the Linux side of the business to become roughly 50% of the turnover. Now, assuming that Intel is not intending just to throw away that side – unlikely, given the increasing interest in open source solutions for embedded – this means that Intel will be pushing embedded Linux solutions. And not only: Windriver is also very active in the mobile space. From last year's interview again:

We joined LiMo as a board member and we work very, very hard with the architectural committee to become the Linux foundation for all LiMo-based development. What that means is the common integration environment, which is the Linux-built system, the tool chain, is all based on Wind River technology. And therefore any contribution that's made to LiMo [is] based on our technology - we contributed that common integration environment to the LiMo foundation.

[Open Handset Alliance's Android] was announced about six or nine months or so after LiMo, and Google came out and said Wind River is their Linux commercialization partner. We have been working with them for about two years. We've done a number of hardware integrations for them. That's one of our core competences: how do you get Android running on the hardware.

We have phones coming out for both. We see a lot of activity on both and a lot of momentum for both.

Again, this implies that in the future Intel is likely to become a major developer of core technologies for Linux-based mobile phones.

Putting all this together, it would seem to mark a very serious commitment by Intel to Linux in the near future – something that is not going to go down well with the other partner of the Wintel duopoly.

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