Two Pillars for Innovation
Dallas says there are two primary pillars for developers and organizations to innovate with intelligent systems-the ability of the system to gather and harness data in new ways and delivering an immersive new experience for end users, customers and enterprise workforces alike. Both have factored heavily into Microsoft's road map for the Windows Embedded platform, with a blend of technologies to connect devices seamlessly across an organization, manage those devices easily on the IT side, and also allow for customization and differentiation with a new user interface and features for touch, gesture and speech control.Moreover, Dallas said extending intelligence from a device into enterprise software also requires tight integration with the back-end infrastructure. To facilitate that, Windows Embedded is focused on key areas of the operating system, all the way down to the kernel itself, improving the file system to handle the data generated by an array of devices. The team is also working closely with Windows Azure to ensure customers can seamlessly include cloud computing in their intelligent systems. "What sits on top of this, across the device and your cloud architecture, is Visual Studio," Dallas said. "Visual Studio allows you to create a distributed application that works seamlessly across your intelligent system. We are planning to support all of the latest Microsoft tools and frameworks, so developers have one trusted platform to build upon, from the device to the cloud." Although the Windows Embedded team has been quiet about its road map for about 18 months, the unit has not been sitting on its laurels. Dallas laid out details about how the company will deliver on its vision for intelligent systems over the next year. The plan involves continued support for a variety of platforms, while also aligning tightly with the upcoming Windows 8 and the new experiences it will enable. "Windows 8 represents the potential to reimagine not only the PC experience, but also the specialized device experience," Dallas said in a statement. "Our road map builds on Windows Embedded's history of aligning the platform with Windows to support an integrated experience across devices, phones, PCs and the cloud." Dallas said Windows Embedded Enterprise v.Next, providing full Windows application compatibility and the power of Microsoft's premium operating systems on embedded devices, will be available for use in a number of different devices, such as ATMs and kiosks, one quarter after Windows 8 is generally available for PCs. Meanwhile, Windows Embedded Standard v.Next, which will deliver the power, familiarity and reliability of the Windows operating system in a highly customizable and componentized form, will undergo a community technology preview (CTP) for developers during the first quarter of 2012. General availability of Windows Embedded Standard v.Next will occur three quarters after Windows 8 is generally available for PCs. Microsoft is not disclosing specific dates for the Windows 8 release schedule at this time. Dallas also confirmed that Microsoft updated Windows Embedded Compact 7, the current generation of the Windows Embedded CE platform, in October 2011. And Windows Embedded Compact v.Next will follow in the second half of 2012, introducing support for Visual Studio 2010. Windows Embedded Standard v.Next will support the ARM architecture, and Windows Embedded Compact will continue to provide a proven, real-time operating system and a full tools suite for a streamlined development experience on small-footprint, specialized devices. Windows Embedded Standard v.Next will deliver technologies for customized, rich user interfaces; enhanced always-on connectivity; and all of the management and security functionality provided by Windows 8. "Windows Embedded Compact and Windows Embedded Standard represent Microsoft's platforms for intelligent systems." Dallas said in a statement. "We need Windows Embedded Standard v.Next to take the lead around application-rich devices, and Windows Embedded Compact v.Next to take the lead around real-time, small form-factor devices. Both are critical to the success of our partners and enterprise customers building intelligent systems." Microsoft will continue to invest in its Windows Embedded Handheld, Windows Embedded POSReady and Windows Embedded Automotive platforms, according to Dallas.
"A lot of our customers are asking about Kinect, for example, in the medical industry, the banking industry," Dallas said in a statement. "'How can I bring that kind of natural experience to my industry?' This is an exciting opportunity, and it's part of what I love about what we're doing to help deliver the tools for innovation with Windows Embedded platforms. We'll make it possible, and let our partners and developers make it happen. The only thing missing is your imagination."