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Microsoft Releases Windows Embedded CE 6.0 R3

Microsoft announced the release to manufacturing of Windows Embedded CE 6.0 R3 at the Embedded Systems Conference in Boston on Tuesday.

The R3 release is a minor OS update that's notable for adding Windows 7 connectivity to Microsoft's compact operating system for devices. Developers and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) have access to Windows 7 Device Stage, a kind of device-driver portal that resides in the OS. In addition, the R3 release includes Microsoft Connection Manager to help connect devices with PCs.

The new OS can support consumer Internet devices, as well as "full-featured, small Windows-based notebooks," according to Kevin Dallas, Microsoft's general manager of the Windows Embedded Business Unit.

Microsoft is promising developers and OEMs ways to improve the user experience on devices with the new release. The R3 release features Windows 7 touch technology. In addition, Microsoft added Silverlight for Windows Embedded in the R3 release, which Microsoft describes as an "out-of-browser, native code implementation of Microsoft Silverlight technology," according to its announcement.

The addition of Silverlight technology allows developers to "separate the design of the user experience on the device and the development of core functionality," according to Microsoft's announcement. Designers can add user interface capabilities such as zoom, gesture and touch via Silverlight and Microsoft Expression Blend. Silverlight is a browser add-on for multimedia applications, as well as a Web application framework.

Microsoft also announced at the conference that it is planning to add Windows 7 technologies to Windows Embedded Enterprise and Windows Server 2008 R2 for Embedded Systems (also known as "Windows Embedded Server") when those operating systems are released to manufacturing.

"In Q4, we're delivering Windows Embedded Server and Windows Embedded Enterprise," Microsoft's Twitter feed announced, without specifying the exact dates.

Windows Embedded Enterprise is a full-featured OS for use in devices such as kiosks, ATMs and medical devices. It's based on either Windows 7 Professional or Windows 7 Ultimate. Depending on the OS edition used, Windows Embedded Enterprise supports such Windows 7 features as DirectAccess for remote connectivity, BranchCache for improving data access and Windows XP Mode for legacy app support. The multitouch user interface is also supported.

Windows Embedded Server will include "new virtualization tools" and "management enhancements," according to Microsoft's announcement. It also will have the ability to use Server Core, a feature that can reduce the footprint of the OS on a device. Features such as DirectAccess and Agile VPN will facilitate connections with other devices and services. Microsoft is also planning to improve failover clustering in Windows Embedded Server.

Microsoft delivered a little news about Windows Embedded Standard 2011. The new OS will be released sometime in the "first half of calendar year 2010," according to Microsoft's announcement. Previously, Microsoft had said it would be released in the second half of 2010, so it seems the schedule was advanced somewhat. Windows Embedded Standard 2011 is currently being reviewed as a community technology preview release.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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