In March, when Microsoft's Windows Embedded team shared its cross-product roadmap, there were lots of mentions of "Windows Next" and not a lot of tangible delivery dates.
On November 13, the team fleshed out that roadmap with more concrete dates, as well as acknowledgements that Windows 8 will be at the core across most, but not quite all, of its embedded operating-system line.
TThe "not quite all" caveat has to do with Embeded Handheld. In fact, the most interesting update to this week's roadmap was Microsoft's promise that new version of Windows Embedded Handheld is coming. Microsoft hasn't released a new version of its ruggedized operating system, since it delivered Windows Embedded Handheld 6.5 (based on the Windows Mobile 6.5 core) in July 2010.
The originally promised Windows Embedded Handheld 7 product was supposed to be based on Windows Embedded Compact 7 and was slated to ship by the end of 2011. According to the new roadmap, that plan has changed. Windows Embedded 8 Handheld -- about which "more information will be available in early 2013" -- is going to be based on Windows Phone 8 technologies, says Microsoft's new press release. This is a product for the ruggedized/enterprise handheld device market.
What else is on the roadmap?
Windows Embedded 8 Standard, which is based on the Windows 8 core code. The release preview available now; general availability is slated for March 2013.
Windows Embedded 8 Pro, which also is based on the Windows 8 core. This is the new name for the product formerly known as Windows Embedded 8 Enterprise. General availability is scheduled for March 2013.
Windows Embedded 8 Industry is the renamed Windows Embedded POSReady (with POS standing for point of sale). There will be both a community technology preview test build and details on timing coming in January 2013.
Windows Embedded Compact 2013 is the new name for the product that until now seemed destined to be known as Windows Embedded 8 Compact. Microsoft is acknowledging publicly that it will be generally available in the second quarter of 2013. (Recently, Microsoft officials indicated the, a slip from the previous "latter half of 2012" ship target. So it seems it has slipped a bit again.)
Windows Embedded 8 Automotive. Microsoft's not saying much on this beyond "more information will be available in early 2013." Microsoft is working with "preselected partners" on this product, which will "be based on Windows 8 technologies."
Until Windows Phone 8, Microsoft had used Windows Embedded Compact (and its predecessor Windows CE) as the core for its mobile operating-system platform. With Windows Phone 8, Microsoft dropped Embedded Compact and replaced it with the Windows NT core.