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Talisker Beta 2 Brings a Few Enterprise Enhancements

Microsoft Corp.'s broad beta 2 program for Talisker, the code name for the next generation of its Windows CE operating system, sports a few new features for the enterprise.

Microsoft announced the beta 2 release of Talisker on Monday. The operating system will not be feature complete until it is released to manufacturing, but the beta 2 release is the last planned milestone before RTM. The product manager for the Embedded and Appliance Platforms Group, Megan Kidd, says, "We're targeting RTM by the end of the year."

Much of the functionality in Talisker is targeted at set-top boxes and consumer devices. However, a few enterprise-focused features have been added between beta 1 and beta 2.

"A lot of the work being done in the area of reliability and performance" was done with the enterprise in mind, Kidd says. Microsoft added support for lightweight threads or fibers within the OS kernel and added encryption protection.

Kidd says newly added support for the 802.1x/Zero Configuration standard, which allows users to wander from one wireless network to another without needing to manually reconfigure, is an important feature for the enterprise.

Microsoft is expecting Talisker-generation devices to infiltrate the enterprise in PDAs and Web pads, which are handhelds with more Internet functionality and connectivity. Industrial automation remains a key target for Microsoft's CE team, Kidd says.

In addition to the broad beta, Microsoft announced programs on Monday aimed at bringing Talisker-based devices to the market more quickly. One is the Rapid Development Program for hardware manufacturers, modeled after a similar program announced in April for the Windows XP Embedded operating system.

The company also unveiled an emulation edition preview of Talisker, which can be run on Windows 2000 Professional and Windows XP Professional desktops. "One of the key time hindrances is developers have to purchase target hardware," Kidd says.

With Talisker's predecessor, Windows CE 3.0, it took about 12 months from the operating system's release to manufacturing until devices began to appear based on the OS, Kidd notes. That timeframe would mean Talisker-based devices would only begin to arrive on the market in 2003.

"Because we are on one hand working with RDP partners and on the other hand have the broad beta availability, it will really cut that time down," she says.

Meanwhile, Microsoft will continue its current dual-operating system approach to thin clients. Windows-based Terminals, such as those offered by Wyse, NCD and others, ship with different operating systems.

The Windows-based Terminal Standard was based on Windows CE, as was a Handheld PC Professional Edition, designed for thin-client computing in wireless LAN and occasionally-connected environments.

But Microsoft also sold a Windows-based Terminal Professional, based on the Windows NT Embedded 4.0 operating system. That more robust thin client OS supported Internet Explorer 5.0 and streaming media.

With the Windows XP-Talisker generation, Microsoft could have chosen to standardize its thin clients on one operating system kernel or the other.

"We're going to continue to offer that choice to the OEM who is building the device," Kidd says.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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