Windows Embedded Standard 8 Available for Preview
Microsoft this week announced a community test preview (CTP) release of Windows Embedded Standard 8.
The new CTP release is based on Windows 8, Microsoft's nascent operating system that was released last week as a beta. The embedded version is specially designed to support handheld devices for industrial use, electronic signs and kiosks, among other mobile device uses. Microsoft describes the embedded OS as a "componentized" version of Windows 8 that can be customized by Microsoft's independent software vendor and device manufacturer partners. With this release, developers can now use a new "module designer" to customize modules within Windows Embedded Standard 8 CTP.
The embedded OS uses the Metro-style apps capability and touch user interface afforded by Windows 8. It also gets security and management capabilities inherited from the Windows 8 code base.
For instance, Windows Embedded Standard 8 can take advantage of a "secure boot" feature, based on the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) standard, that will check for malware in the boot path before starting the OS, which is a feature of Windows 8 for such UEFI devices. Additionally, the Windows Embedded Standard 8 CTP provides options to use BitLocker encryption for devices. The release also supports AppLocker, which will block the use untrusted apps through white listing. IT pros can further restrict the device using a new "unified configuration tool" that's available for Windows Embedded Standard 8.
Various Microsoft IT pro management capabilities are enabled, such as Active Directory and Group Policy. An Embedded Device Manager will work with Microsoft's System Center Configuration Manager to accomplish tasks such as deploying the OS and applications, as well as applying updates and security patches. System Center Operations Manager can be used for device monitoring too, according to Microsoft's product description (PDF).
Devices using the embedded OS can connect to Microsoft's public cloud services, such as Windows Azure Storage or SQL Azure Database. Other Windows 8 capabilities in the embedded version are improved power management, synchronization and wireless support (Bluetooth and Wi-Fi). Windows Embedded Standard 8 also supports near-field communications for applications such as vending machine payment interactions.
Microsoft lately has been describing its client OS vision as being about devices and services. On the embedded side, Microsoft sees a growing world of "intelligent systems," where devices act to funnel data back to organizations for decision-making purposes. According to a press release, Microsoft moved its Windows Embedded segment to its Management and Security Division of the Microsoft Server and Tools Business in September of 2010 to better align its embedded operations with this intelligent systems vision.
Kurt Mackie is online news editor for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.