Microsoft readies Windows Embedded 'Quebec'

The software giant is working on a Vista-based successor to its Windows XP-based embedded operating system, scheduled for release in 2010.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Although Microsoft hasn't revealed much about its plans for a Vista-based successor to its Windows XP-based embedded operating system, the company is already 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 code-named '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.

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 mobile 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 fully-fledged Windows.

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.

Support for all these features comes at a cost, namely size. According to a slide deck available to attendees of Microsoft's TechEd Developers Conference, while Windows XP Embedded core’s minimum image size is around 40MB, Quebec’s core is expected be around 300MB--not counting all the optional add-ons like Media Player, IE7, and so on.

Quebec will also require product activation, unlike XP Embedded. 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.

This article was first published as a blog on ZDNet.com.

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