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ImageIf you are working in the embedded systems business, you have definitely by now ran across the term "DSO". But what does it mean? And why aren't we using it at Elektroniktidningen?
The theme of the new issue of Elektroniktidningen magazine is ”Embedded Systems”.

But maybe we should have called it ”Mechatronics”?

Because that’s what many of our readers in the south of Sweden likes to say about of it.

There is another concept around, you’ve heard it, it’s ”Device Software Optimization”, DSO.

The phrase was coined by software tools company Wind River in a press release dated February 17, 2004. Ever since that day, Wind River no longer refers to itself as the ”World Wide Leader in Embedded Software and Services”. But as the ”Global Leader in Device Software Optimization”.

In the very same press release Wind River for the first time announced plans of supporting the Linux operating system.

This was no coincidence, according to competitor Montavista Software, who by then had already had their Linux offering on the embedded market for two years. ”DSO was an attempt to distract people from the Linux momentum, and continue the focus on VXWorks” Montavista says to me.

Wind River continues to market the term. Every product launch is tagged ”DSO”. There is a Wind River sponsored news site,, that covers embedded news, but everywhere changing ”embedded” to ”DSO”. The embedded conference in Boston was sponsored with a DSO World Tent. And so on.

The marketing so far has not been very successful. Only two significant players have picked up the term: Enea and Green Hills Software.

I have asked all three of them what DSO actually means.

In return I got a lecture on open standards, component markets, interoperability, software reuse, platform independence, higher levels of abstraction, time-to-market, services, bill-of-materials, and that’s the full list, I think.

All of this together is called DSO and it is deeply needed because of the complexity of todays embedded systems compared to the old days of simple controllers.

That’s the DSO lecture, the way I perceived it.

I fully sympathize with all of these goals and anything I so far have seen hooked to the DSO term.

But I do not see a need for Elektroniktidningen to start using the term (not even discarding the fact that we normally write in swedish).

The term is way too elastic. It means everything, thus nothing.

News in the DSO area I so far have been able to report in familiar terms like debugging, interfaces, tools, software, et cetera. Introducing a new term that lacks a strict definition would not help explaining things. Quite the opposite: It would be confusing.

Awaiting a strict definition of DSO, I will stick to Embedded Systems.
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Anne-Charlotte Sparrvik


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Per Henricsson


Anna Wennberg


Jan Tångring