Although it hasn't said much about its plans for a Vista-based successor to its Windows XP-based embedded operating system, Microsoft already is working on one.
Microsoft released during the first week of June a new test build of its latest Windows XP-based embedded operating system, known as "Windows Embedded Standard 2009," the final version of which is slated to ship by the end of 2008.
However, Microsoft also is readying the 2010 successor to this product -- another Windows Embedded release codenamed "Quebec." Unlike the 2009 release of Windows Embedded, the Quebec product will make use of a number of features that are part of Windows Vista.
Microsoft is on tap to share some information about the Vista-based embedded release at its TechEd Developers Conference this week in Orlando. A first widescale Community Technology Preview (CTP) test build of Quebec is due out next year.
Microsoft's Windows Embedded family of products, which Microsoft sells to device makers, is designed to power thin client terminals, point-of-service terminals, gaming devices, medical-imaging systems, DVRs and industrial-automation systems, among other products. Windows Embedded is not at the core of cell phones or ultra-low-cost PCs (ULPCs), however. Windows Mobile phones currently are built on top of a Windows CE-based core and ULPCs run full-fledged Windows. (Microsoft has OK'd ULPC makers shipping Windows XP on their systems through 2010.)
The forthcoming Quebec embedded release will include BitLocker drive encryption, Windows Firewall, Windows Defender, Address-Space Load Randomization -- and on the memory-management front, support for SuperFetch, ReadyBoost and Dynamic System Address Space. On certain devices, the Quebec release will also provide as optional components Aero user-interface, Windows Media Player 11 and various Internet Explorer 7 features. Unlike Microsoft's XP-based embedded releases, which are 32-bit only, Quebec will support both 32-bit x86 and 64-bit x64 processors.
Not surprisingly, support for all these features comes at a cost -- size. According to a slide deck available to TechEd attendees, while Windows XP Embedded core's minimum image size is around 40MB, according to a slide deck to be presented at TechEd on June 6, Quebec's core is expected be around 300MB -- not counting all the optional add-ons like Media Player, IE 7, etc.
The other cost is Quebec will require product activation; XP Embedded does not. The Quebec release will require basic retail activation or OEM activation. There will be a default evaluation product key that will allow the Quebec image to run for 30 days without activation.