Second XP Embedded beta now out

Microsoft lets developers loose on the second test version of its Windows XP Embedded operating system, a step forward in its push into non-PC software markets.

Microsoft on Tuesday gave developers another test drive of its new Windows XP Embedded operating system.

The Redmond, Wash.-based software giant debuted the second beta of the component-based version of the operating system that is used for building connections between client devices such as terminals, retail point-of-sale devices, kiosks and set-top boxes.

The beta version of the operating system was developed in partnership with Bally's video casino-game organization, Fujitsu-Siemens' set-top box group and Siemens' factory robot group.

Microsoft has been working for years on the embedded market, facing numerous smaller companies and now the additional threats of Linux and Java.

But Tuesday, the company gained more support for its embedded market as German client systems maker Wincor Nixdorf and Israeli point-of-sale applications company Retalix announced their participation in Microsoft's Windows XP Embedded Rapid Development Program.

The preview program enables embedded systems developers to begin evaluating and prototyping designs based on Windows XP Embedded beta 2, which is available for free on CD and online. Embedded computers are systems that are not PCs, such as set-top boxes and point-of-sale devices like cash registers.

Microsoft is aiming to spread its operating system into as many devices as it can. The move would increase the company's revenue and make Windows even more common as the foundation on which programmers and software companies base their works.

Microsoft has had a difficult time expanding its software dominance into the embedded market, which has been dominated by lesser-known companies such as Wind River Systems, and into the server market, where Unix systems and even older mainframe computers still rule the roost.