Microsoft outlines plans to deliver Windows 8 versions of its embedded products

Microsoft has begun sharing early ship targets for the next, Windows 8-centric versions of some of its many embedded operating systems.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft officials have begun sharing some roadmaps for the next versions of its many Windows Embedded operating system offerings, including plans to update some of them so they're based on Windows 8.

Microsoft currently offers a handful of different, customized versions of its embedded operating systems, each aimed at slightly different device types and footprints.

Microsoft is working on the following updates, according to company execs on November 14:

Windows Embedded Enterprise v.Next, its OS for devices such as ATMs and kiosks, will be out a quarter after Windows 8 is generally available for PCs Windows Embedded Standard v.Next, a componentized version of Windows for various devices, will be out in Community Technology Preview (CTP) test form in the first quarter of 2012 and will be generally available three quarters after Windows 8 is generally available for PCs. It will support ARM processors (like Windows 8 will) -- something that it hasn't done traditionally with this SKU -- as well as support for all the management and security features of Windows 8.

Windows Embedded Compact v. Next, its real-time operating system for small-footprint, specialized devices, is due out in the second half of 2012, with support for Visual Studio 2010. Embedded Compact v. Next will likely continue to support ARM and x86 processors, as the current SKU does. (I've put a question into Microsoft to make sure of this, however.)

Microsoft is still not disclosing Windows 8's planned release date, but it is widely expected to be available for PCs by the third quarter of 2012.

Microsoft isn't providing new roadmap dates or details today for its Windows Embedded Handheld, Windows Embedded POSRedy and Windows Embedded Automative platforms. Officials said via a statement that they are "investing in these to include the latest Microsoft technologies" with no further explanation as to what this means.

Earlier this year, Microsoft quietly changed its roadmap for Windows Embedded Handheld -- its ruggedized phone operating system -- eliminating a commitment to provide Windows Embedded Handheld 7, which company officials had said a year ago that Microsoft planned to roll out in the second half of calendar 2011.

There's also no mention in Microsoft's press materials today of Windows Embedded Server or its plans for that particular embedded SKU. I've asked company officials for comment and will update if and when I hear back.

Microsoft moved its Embedded business under its Server and Tools organization a year ago, and has been talking up its Embedded Standard and Embedded Compact SKUs as key to collecting information from a network of intelligent devices -- a k a, "the Internet of things."

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