At NRF, the Redmondians announced the immediate availability of a new release-preview test build of the Windows Embedded 8 Industry product. (Windows Embedded 8 Industry is the renamed Microsoft Windows POSReady 7, its point-of-sale optimized solution.)
There's no new version of the Embedded 8 Handheld operating system being released this week. But Microsoft officials are saying to expect the first ruggedized handheld phones running this operating system to be in the market in late 2013 or early 2014. The Windows Embedded 8 Handheld software development kit (SDK) will be out "later this year," officials said on January 14.
Windows Embedded 8 Handheld is built on the Windows Phone 8 core. Developers interested in writing applications for Windows Embedded 8 Handheld ruggedized devices can use the Windows Phone 8 SDK to do so. Because of the compatibility with Windows Phone 8, these devices will be able to support off-the-shelf business and productivity apps like Microsoft Lync, Office 365 and Dynamics for Retail, officials said.
Even though Windows Embedded 8 Handheld is based on the Windows Phone, and not the complete Windows codebase, the messaging around it fits in with the Windows Phone/Windows positioning. Microsoft's goal is to offer embedded developers a single platform, even if applications need to be recompiled to run. Because the interface is similar, training costs should be lower, said John Doyle, Director of Product Marketing for Windows Embedded.
Microsoft has moved away from allowing OEMs to license any of the Windows Embedded SKUs for use in tablets of any kind. Any companies interested in creating Windows tablets have to license the full Windows operating system, Doyle confirmed.
"We have the complete Windows 8 wave of products, which can be used to address everything in this (embedded) space," Doyle added.