"Microsoft announced this week at the Windows Hardware
Engineering Conference in New Orleans that it will combine its
embedded operating systems into a single business unit. The
news is unsurprising, but it does reflect an active shift in the
marketplace from traditional servers, devices, and operating
systems to their equivalents -- an area where Linux is already
"The larger hardware vendors are, as usual, staying involved but
impartial. Compaq currently leads sales of Linux servers, but also
provides hardware for the Windows CE-based Microsoft Pocket PC.
Similarly, both IBM and Dell are rallying their server appliance
efforts, releasing hardware that will run stripped-down versions of
Linux and Windows."
"Server appliances have become popular as operating systems have
swollen with features and bundled applications. Companies that only
need a server to run a specific function -- such as serving Web
pages -- prefer a bare-bones operating system that allows for
breakneck hardware performance. And small devices such as PDAs or
handheld credit card processors don't have enough memory or
processing power to handle a full-fledged operating system,
rendering them useless without a miniature alternative."
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