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On Board with Linksys

When talking about Wi-Fi products, there's always a lot of discussion about chip sets and hardware interfaces and drivers, but not so much about what software is running inside the box. Embedded software and services developer Wind River Systems of Alameda, CA, has been living under the radar like that for some time.

But a recent announcement that Linksys -- the number one vendor in home and small business wireless LAN products with 19.6% of the market place according to Synergy Research Group -- will be using Wind River technology in its dual-band products may give them a little more presence.

Wind River, however, is happy just to stay behind the scenes letting vendors "eliminate base problems" in their hardware, according to Steve Christian, Director of Marketing for the Professional Services Group at Wind River. The company hopes that its customers can then concentrate on adding other values to products.

In this case, the recently announced Linksys Dual Band Wireless A+B Broadband Router (WRT51AB) and Dual Band Wireless A+B Access Point (WAP51AB) will use Wind River's WindManage integrated services for security and connectivity functions. Christian calls the services a "comprehensive platform for the operating system, the bridging and routing, [and] also the Web user interface." Basically, wherever an end user interacts with the Linksys dual-band products for customization or configuration, it'll be through Wind River technology.

The Web-based interface, while using Wind River technology, will still have the Linksys look-and-feel, as Wind River develops the software to its customer's specifications.

Wind River won't be the only new thing in the Linksys boxes. Bundled copies (not embedded) of Symantec's Norton Internet Security 2003 will now ship with all Linksys cable/DSL routers, both wired and wireless, sold in the United States. The security program will be available for install as part of the set-up Wizard.

Anyone who purchased a Linksys router after Sept. 25 can get a free copy of the program. The Linksys bundled version only provides a 60-day subscription to virus and intrusion detection signatures; after that users have to pay for the annual subscription.

Wireless routers included in the deal are the Wireless Access Point Router with 4-Port Switch - Version 2 (BEFW11S4) and the Dual-Band Wireless A+B Broadband Router (WRT51AB) mentioned above, as well as several wired Ethernet models. New routers yet to be introduced will also include Norton Internet Security.

Eric Griffith is the managing editor of 802.11 Planet.

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