Microsoft updates its Windows Embedded roadmap; Embedded 8 Handheld is alive

Microsoft updates its Windows Embedded roadmap; Embedded 8 Handheld is alive

Summary: Microsoft has provided yet another update to its Windows Embedded roadmap. Many products have been renamed. And a new version of Embedded Handheld is coming.


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 coming Embedded Compact release would ship in the first quarter of 2013, 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.


Topics: Windows, Microsoft, Operating Systems


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • What else is on the W8 "roadmap"?

    A big red warning triangle with the message "Danger! cliff edge ahead"
    The Central Scrutinizer
    • I'll bet you've been saying the same thing since the first Windows came out

      and your comments have nothing to do with a real concern and are more about your dislike of anything Microsoft.

      You people are predictable, and you'll be saying the same thing when Windows 9 and 10, etc, come out, and even after hundreds of millions of Windows 8 copies have been purchased or included on all form-factors.

      Now, go get a real life.
  • I would think

    ...Windows 8 Embedded would be a natural for "Point of Sale" or other touch-screen devices. Of course, it won't replace all those aging embedded XP devices out there.
    John Carroll
  • I really can't see

    using anything other than linux or android for such purposes, and I do embedded for a living. What do you get - owned by MS - and you get to pay thru the nose for the privilege. We don't need MS to write us an OS anymore. Seriously I'm curious if someone would give some reasons. My first embedded linux project was quite straigtforward. I think its simply people who have only lived in the MS world might go with windows.
    • Because it works.

      And have you ever seen those Linux and Android powered devices? You pay through the nose for them, too.

      And with those customized coded OS's come those customized maintenence policies.
      William Farrel
    • re: I really can't see

      Embedded clients are usually used to remote into another system vice using a thin client. If the server technology changes i.e. citrix, windows server, if you can't update the client then you're hosed. You have a collection of boat anchors.
    • More places than you think

      The fact is a huge number of products are heavily invested in Microsoft APIs and Embedded Windows is very effective in moving the product from a PC app to a turnkey box. I've been surprised more than once to discover a product had an MS OS at its core, such as a GPS device that offered no mention until you do a firmware update.
    • Because of the domain knowledge

      There are so many windows programmers available. In the long run, software dev costs can easily out pace any other costs. So if you can take advantage of the huge pool of trained windows programmers, that a big advantage.
      Chris Lawton
  • Embedded Windows vs Embedded Linux

    Lets see - I have a Raspberry Pi and a Beaglebone on my desk. Both run (free!) copies of embedded linux, in assorted flavors. Including Android. If I ever build a machine myself, I can leverage the skills I am learning now to get a new design working.

    What is there to entice me to get Embedded Windows? How much is it? Heck, is it even AVAILABLE for the plethora of ARM-based microcontrollers, currently being promoted as a cheap entry into programming? If so, they certainly aren't bothering to advertise it.
    Alan Campbell
    • Think of it this way: When it's advantageous for Microsoft to offer any

      version of Windows, embedded or not, for a any platform, then it's going to happen. Meanwhile, MS is not going to create any OS or software for a rare and hardly even heard of platform. When PI gets the eyes and ears of a large enough number of people, you might begin to see MS move in, and perhaps even Apple and Google.

      Hey, I just thought of something:

      There have been rumors that Apple is looking for its very own CPU architecture, so, perhaps you and the PI people can get something going and do a presentation and sales job to Apple. ;)
  • WE8H ve WEC2013 vs linux/android

    Hi I think that WE8H will be some kind of industrial/enterprise phone with unconstrained peripheral capabilies, so allowing barcode readers and imagers, RFID and onboard voice SR/TTS of course with built-in enterprise manageability and private appstore for remote updates of apps -all this with the same easy (best) development experience as is now for WP7/8, so allowing simple things simply by NET/XAML or very custom things in C++/XAML too - this all is based on WP8, so in fact using common kernel with Windows8/WinRT. On the other hand, WEC2013 is still hard-realtime componentized OS, much more comparable to things like QNX, but also with option to use NETCF39 greatly enhanced by development of WP device; GUI solution here is unknown yet, though (if SLE/XAML, WinRT/XAML or pure HTML5/JS or perhaps new typescript powered too). But WinCE almost always allowed also non-gui solutions for sensors and controllers, running reliably in few hundred kB of RAM.