Wind River has decided to give the main competitor for one of its tools exclusive distribution rights for its own product in a deal that could see The MathWorks decide to kill it off.
Wind River picked up the MatrixX products as the result of the company's acquisition of Integrated Systems in 2000. It and the The MathWorks' MatLab are derived from the same source code, with the result that the two tools have competed head-to-head since they became products. Both tools are widely used to develop control software for automotive and industrial systems.
However, Wind River has been a partner of The MathWorks since the mid-1990s and decided that its best interests would be served by first giving over exclusive distribution rights to The MathWorks. In two-and-half years, The MathWorks will have the option to buy MatrixX from Wind River and decide what to do with the tool.
Acknowledging that killing off MatrixX would be a possibility, Scot Morrison, vice president and general manager of industrial and automotive products for Wind River, said: "They could do that but, as the toolsets are fairly similar from the front-end through to documentation tools, they could do a blending. It wouldn't need a lot. We would hope that they take that tack and migrate customers in a uniform transition.
"The MathWorks has been a partner of Wind River's for some time and we have very complementary product lines. MatrixX was an exception to that.
"The MathWorks is focused on system design, particularly control systems. Wind River focuses just below that. We are driving for greater integration and aligning products and strategies."
Morrison said the competition between MatLab and MatrixX had led to a rash of new technologies being developed but "having two standards in the industry makes it less efficient for the customer.
"To bid for a contract often means having to use either one of the tools. The customer may prefer one of the tools but the contractor may use the other more heavily.
"The competition has driven innovation but has driven them to be of a similar nature."
The MathWorks will take on MatrixX as well as its ancillary tools, such as SystemBuild, which is used to build and test control algorithms. The BetterState software, which adds support for statecharts and has been in development for a couple of years, will be added to the upcoming major release of MatrixX, version 7.0. That release which is expected to be the last major revision of the toolset.
"By completing the 7.0 release, the next major version would be expected next year anyway," said Morrison, adding that this would be the point at which customers would transition.
"This is a customer focused approach. We have given one year's warning and two years to transition," he added.
Morrison said Wind River will keep the rights to the underlying statechart technology in BetterState.
"It is not a heavyweight tool like MatrixX and we want to keep the capability so that we can use it as a programming tool in Tornado."
Morrison said the decision to give up MatrixX was driven by Wind River's desire to keep its work with The MathWorks moving forward.
"If something limits our ability to work with a market leader, we may have to make a decision like this," he said.
"[MatrixX] was limiting our ability to get closer although nobody backed away from anything they had done."
At the Society of Automotive Engineers Conference in Detroit next week (5 March), Wind River and The MathWorks will take the wraps off a system that generates control code for targets running OSEKWorks, Wind River's implementation of the OSEK automotive operating system.