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Windows Embedded 8 Industry Now Available

Microsoft released two editions of its Windows Embedded 8 Industry product today.

Windows Embedded 8 Industry is the successor product to Windows Embedded POSReady 7 for retail industries, but Microsoft is marketing this new release a little differently. The operating system isn't just for equipment makers developing point-of-sale mobile devices. Instead, it's for device makers more broadly that need a "fixed-image OS," according to an announcement by David Wurster, a Microsoft senior product manager for Windows Embedded. A fixed-image OS assures that applications can run across various hardware devices.

Microsoft also indicated today that Windows Embedded 8 Industry comes in three editions -- Pro, Pro Retail and Enterprise. Two of those editions, Pro and Pro Retail, are available now to original equipment manufacturers and enterprises. The third product, Windows Embedded 8 Industry Enterprise, will be available with volume licensing on July 1.

The three Windows Embedded 8 Industry products are marketed toward somewhat different industries. Pro is aimed at manufacturers building "ATMs and devices for the healthcare and manufacturing industries," according to Wurster. The Retail edition of the product is for retail devices such as "POS terminals, kiosks, scanners and more." The Enterprise edition will have "features designed to integrate seamlessly with Windows 8 Enterprise."

Examples of such features supported by the Enterprise edition include things like AppLocker for application lock-down, which prevents end users from installing some software on devices. Another Enterprise-supported feature will be application sideloading, which is a way for organizations to push software out to end users and manage the distribution.

Last month, Microsoft released Windows Embedded 8 Standard and Windows Embedded 8 Pro. Still to come in the product line is Windows Embedded Compact 2013, which is scheduled for general availability in the second quarter of this year, according to Microsoft's earlier announced roadmap. Windows Embedded 8 Handheld apparently was released to manufacturers in January.

Microsoft's embedded OSes are a bit different from their desktop cousins. The embedded OSes don't have all of the functionality of the desktop OSes, but they do have some added capabilities specific to the specialized device world, such as keyboard, write and gesture filters.

Microsoft has been touting touch capabilities in the new Windows Embedded 8 releases. It has been making the Embedded 8 products compatible with System Center 2012 Service Pack 1 for management. The efforts are part of Microsoft's "intelligent systems" vision, where business insights purportedly can be gleaned from connected mobile devices.

About the Author

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

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