I guess it's about time that I weigh in on the latest big-time operating system announcement, this one coming from Microsoft. It seems everyone else has already offered an opinion. It might seem that I'm a little late, but excuse me as the print schedule is a little longer than the online schedule.
I'm glad to see that Microsoft has carried through on its promise to simplify the naming convention for its operating systems, which in this case gives us the Windows Embedded Standard operating system. Note that this operating system is based on the now stable Windows XP, rather than Vista. Using XP provides a level of comfort for embedded systems designers, who generally don't live on the leading edge. And the overall consensus from the industry is that this is a good thing, as XP still has a fair amount of life as far as embedded applications are concerned.
Windows Embedded Standard is actually the next generation of the operating system formerly known as Windows Embedded XP. Unlike the consumer version of XP, this version is aimed at original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) wanting to quickly build devices that seamlessly connect into an existing enterprise infrastructure.
As you'd expect from an embedded operating system, Windows Embedded Standard is designed to drive managed and secure thin clients, point-of-service (POS) and kiosk devices, and smart networked multifunction printers that connect to an enterprise infrastructure. It also includes componentized drivers for Intel's latest x86 microprocessors.
Even though it's based on the existing XP code, it does offer features beyond a new name. These new features include Silverlight, Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) 6.1, and .NET Framework 3.5. Support for Silverlight provides a cross-browser, cross-platform plug-in to deliver the next-generation of media experiences, including video, animation, and user interactivity. The latest version of RDP lets devices seamlessly connect to systems running Windows Vista, including the latest security and management technology.
The final release of the operating system is expected before the end of the year. Any OEM that purchases a Windows XP Embedded Toolkit by September will be eligible to request a Windows Embedded Standard replacement toolkit at no additional charge. Details are available at www.microsoft.com/windowsembedded .
Richard Nass is editor in chief of Embedded Systems Design magazine. He can be reached at .