Microsoft outlines roadmap for Windows Embedded 8

Microsoft has provided some general guidance on when customers of its embedded operating-system versions can expect their Windows 8-based updates.

On March 6, Microsoft provided some general guidance as to when customers interested in the embedded versions of Windows can expect their Windows 8-based updates.

Microsoft is referring to these updates in its press release "Windows Embedded v.Next." But on the Microsoft Connect site, Microsoft is labeling the next version Windows Embedded 8 (no surprise), making it likely that all of the coming embedded updates will get the "Windows 8" branding, too.

Here's the latest roadmap update from the team:

Windows Embedded Enterprise 'Next' -- the version suited for devices like ATMs and kiosks -- will be out one quarter after Microsoft makes Windows 8 generally available for PCs. Microsoft still has not provided any specific guidance as to when Windows 8 will be generally available for PCs, but many of us Microsoft watchers believe that will be some time this fall.

Windows Embedded Standard 8 is now available in Community Technology Preview (CTP) 1 form, according to Microsoft. The final version will be available three quarters after Windows 8 is generally available for PCs, officials said today. (The end-user licensing agreement on the Connect site curiously says the terms expire on October 2012.) Windows Embedded Standard 8 supports the ARM architecture, in addition to continuing support for the Intel x86 and x64 architectures. It will provide all the management and security functionality that is part of Windows 8, the Softies reiterated.

Windows Embedded Compact 'Next' -- for small-footprint, specialized devices -- will be out in the second half of 2012, with support for Visual Studio. To date, Microsoft has used Embedded Compact as the core of its Windows Phone operating system. This situation is expected to change with the next major Windows Phone operating system release, codenamed Apollo. Apollo is believed to be based on elements of the Windows 8 core operating system stack, rather than on top of Embedded Compact, though Microsoft officials have not confirmed this publicly and officially.

Today's Embedded press release mentions that Microsoft is continuing to invest in updating Windows Embedded Handheld with support for the latest technologies, but offers no further specifics. 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. Maybe the Windows Embedded Handheld 7 product -- which was supposed to be based on Windows Embedded Compact 7 and was slated to ship by the end of 2011 -- will materialize, after all....