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Is an OS More Like IP or a Tool?

As Jim Turley mentioned in his ESC run-down, Express Logic has done a deal with IAR to make available a “lite” version of the ThreadX operating system. Of course the features are cut back, as he explains. But it was the nature of the licensing that caught my attention.

Full-up ThreadX is licensed by project: when you finish the project, you’re done with that license, and you buy a new one when a new project starts up. While this model works for larger companies, according to Express Logic’s John Carbone, it proved burdensome for small guys.

ThreadX-Lite is aimed at those guys, and the key is that it’s no longer licensed per project: it’s per user, and doesn’t expire at the end of the project. In addition to the feature differences, if you have lots of users, it ends up costing more: the $12,500 per-project license for ThreadX covers three users. If you have three ThreadX-Lite users at $4500 each, it actually costs more. Although it transcends the project.

Details aside, the reason this caught my eye was that it occurred to me that, at least when compared to hardware, ThreadX uses a royalty-free IP licensing model; ThreadX-Lite uses a tool licensing model. They’re fundamentally different.

Asked whether Express Logic was actually thinking in these strategic terms when deciding on ThreadX-Lite, John indicated that wasn’t the case. They were simply trying to craft a product for a missing audience. If the two models end up performing differently, then they could look at this from a broader angle, but that’s not the case at present.

More detail on ThreadX-Lite can be found in their release.

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