New Trend? Hardware embedded Software

Martin Brinkmann
Oct 12, 2007
Updated • May 12, 2014

Does it make sense to embed a web browser like Firefox or a Voice over IP client like Skype into a motherboard? It surely has some advantages like fast boot times and increased security because changes made to the applications by malicious software are not of permanent nature.

Asus is the first company to introduce a motherboard that has a version of Firefox and Skype embedded into the hardware. It is possible to boot directly into a Linux system and run Firefox from there in about 15 seconds which means that users can save some boot time for a quick look up or phone call.

This new trend does raise some questions however. The first question that I had was if it is possible to update the software. If that would be possible it would surely be a similar procedure to updating the bios of your motherboard. Nothing that a "normal" computer user likes to do.

Imagine that you have to flash the bios every other week if the programs stored on it get updated frequently. The company plans to embed more applications which means more updating.

If you take Firefox for example, it gets a new update every six weeks, and sometimes smaller updates that fix additional security issues or bugs.

A second criteria is price of course. The motherboard sells for $350 which is a very high price for a motherboard. The company behind this technology, DeviceVM, is planning to embed their products into laptops and desktop PCs in the near future.

I personally think that this is a good idea as long as the method to update the software programs is not too complicated. Updating it from within the software or operating system with just the click of the mouse would be the way to go in my opinion.

Since the system runs on Linux, it is safe from viruses and other malicious code that targets the Windows operating system. While that may be reassuring, it won't protect the system from vulnerabilities in the applications itself, since those can be exploited as well in numerous ways.A disadvantage is that you cannot easily switch to other applications. If you need to run another, Photoshop, Microsoft Outlook or Google Chrome, then you need to boot again into the core operating system to do so. If you do work using online services such as Gmail or Office365 on the other hand, this may be sufficient to your needs.


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  1. + simonas said on October 13, 2007 at 8:35 am

    This new trend would be undesirable for me for the fact that it eliminates the CHOICE of software. I want to choose the software that I want rather then get everything preinstalled. That is the same major reason why I am not intending to get an iPhone.

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