Microsoft has announced the general availability of the Windows Embedded 8 family of operating systems.
Microsoft is extending Windows 8 technologies to a spectrum of edge devices. Windows Embedded 8 helps enterprises capitalize on the "Internet of Things" with the platform to capture, analyze and act on valuable data across IT infrastructures.
"Edge devices, connected and working in unison with an enterprise's broader IT infrastructure, unleash the potential of the Internet of Things by yielding the actionable data and operational intelligence that drive businesses forward," Kevin Dallas, Microsoft's general manager of Windows Embedded, said in a statement. "From the rich, familiar experience of Windows, to integrated management, analytics and cloud platforms, Windows Embedded 8—coupled with the full breadth of Microsoft technologies for intelligent systems—helps enterprises gain lasting competitive advantages in retail, manufacturing, health care and a variety of industries."
Devices at the edge of enterprise networks connected to integrated Microsoft software and services help enterprises identify and act on opportunities that otherwise would be out of reach by improving access to data, enhancing performance, extending security and powering flexible line-of-business applications.
"At a high level, what's becoming clearer is that Microsoft is becoming more of a devices and services company," Dallas told eWEEK.
With Windows Embedded 8, enterprises can harness Windows 8 technologies with additional features to support industry devices within intelligent systems—including experiences that provide customers and employees with access to information while ensuring the consistency and predictability businesses require. Businesses will also have the ability to add or buy enterprise-specific functionality for their Windows Embedded 8-based solutions through licensing options Microsoft will make available in July.
For original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and developers, Windows Embedded 8 delivers the power of the Windows operating system to create advanced commercial devices. The Windows 8 innovations, coupled with additional embedded functionality for edge devices, will help them deliver differentiated solutions with security enhancements, a refined application model and touch-first industry experiences.
Windows Embedded 8 Standard and Windows Embedded 8 Pro are available immediately for OEMs to build and ship solutions. Microsoft has launched http://www.getwindowsembedded8.com to provide download access to the platforms.
"We're working on a range of products for a range of devices, machines and sensors, and they'll be the source of data that will provide new economic opportunities for all of our customers and partners," Dallas said. "From a device, controller and sensor perspective, we'll have a full portfolio of products."
Microsoft said Windows Embedded 8 Industry, which targets retail point-of-service (POS) solutions and other scenarios across manufacturing and health care that require fixed experiences with enhanced lockdown, branding and the other benefits of Windows Embedded 8, will be available the week of April 1.
In addition, http://www.getwindowsembedded8.com also contains a video series of panel discussions and other resources for enterprises and OEMs to help them take advantage of intelligent systems with Windows Embedded 8. The videos focus on three key industries with significant potential for intelligent systems—health care, retail and manufacturing—all with unique needs and requirements for devices, including kiosks, human machine interface (HMI) panels, digital signs and POS terminals.
In January, at the National Retail Federation (NRF) show in New York City, Microsoft and its Windows embedded OEM partners demonstrated updated versions of their products. At NRF, Microsoft also announced a new preview of the Windows Embedded 8 Industry product.
Meanwhile, Microsoft partners also demonstrated Windows Embedded 8 Handheld at NRF. There are currently five partners building around Embedded 8 Handheld: Motorola Solutions, Intermec, Honeywell, Ingenico and Bluebird.
"The landscape for retailers and enterprises across many industries is undoubtedly evolving, with handheld devices continuing to emerge as strategic assets that empower workers, service customers and fuel vital operational intelligence to the back end," Girish Rishi, senior vice president of enterprise solutions for Motorola Solutions, said in a statement. "By extending Windows Phone 8, Windows Embedded 8 Handheld will provide Motorola Solutions' customers with devices that deliver a rich, flexible experience for employees and an intelligent, connected experience for the customer and retailer."