In a challenge to Microsoft Corp eight of the world's leading consumer electronics companies announced Tuesday that they were forming a consortium to boost the development of the Linux operating system for use in consumer digital devices from televisions to mobile phones.
The eight founding members of the group are Matsushita Electric Industrial Co, Sony Corp, Hitachi Ltd, NEC Corp, Royal Philips Electronics NV, Samsung Electronics Co, Sharp Corp and Toshiba Corp. Unconfirmed reports said that IBM Corp also planned to join.
The Consumer Electronics Linux Forum aims to improve performance of the open-source operating system to make it suitable for running smart TV sets, audio gear, DVD players and other home entertainment devices, a press release said.
Microsoft has spent billions of US dollars developing products for this market, and consumer electronics manufacturers fear that Microsoft could extend the dominance of its Windows operating system from personal computers to all consumer electronics devices.
Linux has established itself as a viable alternative to Microsoft in enterprise and server computing but has yet to emerge as a potent force on the PC desktop or other consumer devices.
Unlike the proprietary nature of Windows, open-source software allows vendors the ability to access the operating system's source code and make changes as long as they share their modifications with others. In addition the software carries no license fees.
Some of the forum's initial goals will be to reduce start-up and shutdown times for the operating system, bolster its power management capabilities to help lengthen battery life in devices, and reduce its memory requirements.