Microsoft Brings Silverlight, Windows 7 Connectivity to Windows Embedded CE

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2009-09-22

Microsoft Brings Silverlight, Windows 7 Connectivity to Windows Embedded CE

Microsoft has announced the release to manufacturing of Windows Embedded CE 6.0 R3, the next-generation of the componentized, real-time Windows Embedded CE operating system that now features a rich immersive user experience provided by Microsoft's Silverlight Rich Internet Application (RIA) platform.

Microsoft announced the RTM of the new release at the Embedded Systems Conference (ESC) in Boston on Sept. 22. Windows Embedded CE 6.0 R3 delivers the rich application experiences of Microsoft Silverlight through the new Silverlight for Windows Embedded user interface (UI) framework.

This assists developers and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in delivering specialized consumer and enterprise devices with immersive user experiences, animated UIs and seamless connections to the world of Windows 7-based PCs, servers and online services, Microsoft said. This release marks a new paradigm for designers and developers to collaborate, improve UI capabilities, and reduce development time and associated costs, said David Wurster, senior product manager on the Windows Embedded team.

"We are bringing the power of Silverlight to CE to provide rich, connected experiences on your CE-based device," Wurster said. "We're making it so that application builders can deliver these experiences in days not months. And we're doing it by splitting the Microsoft design/development story. Designers and developers can use tools like Expression Blend and the developers doing the background logic can use Microsoft's Visual Studio tools."

This version of Silverlight for embedded systems is similar to the standard version except for two things, Wurster said. One is that it runs outside the browser and the other is that it has a native code back end, "so you use C++ instead of other .NET languages," he said.

"With the release of Windows Embedded CE 6.0 R3, Microsoft has furthered its commitment to energize the evolution of consumer Internet devices (CIDs), which fall between smartphones and the full-featured, small Windows-based notebooks, by empowering our OEM and developer ecosystem with innovative, new technologies to fuel rich, animated and compelling user experiences," said Kevin Dallas, general manager of the Windows Embedded Business Unit at Microsoft, in a statement. "Microsoft has reaffirmed its investment in the Windows Embedded CE operating system and raised the bar by providing embedded OEMs with access to Visual Studio, Silverlight, Expression Blend and other advanced Microsoft technologies. These technologies help drive innovation and differentiation in devices, redefine the way users interact with devices at work and home, and deliver a consistent experience for end users across devices, Windows 7-based PCs, servers and online services."

Additional new Windows Embedded CE 6.0 R3 capabilities, features and benefits include:

??Ç         High-fidelity user experiences are created when designers leverage their knowledge of Silverlight, Microsoft Expression Blend and Internet Explorer Embedded, enabling capabilities including panning and zoom, touch, and gesture input to dramatically improve Web browsing and the overall user experience OEMs can deliver right from the box.

??Ç         A consistent experience is delivered across devices and PCs with Microsoft Office and PDF viewers.

??Ç         Seamless connections to Windows 7-based PCs through Windows 7 Device Stage and Microsoft Connection Manager enable PC companion opportunities for Windows Embedded CE 6.0 R3-based devices.

??Ç         Improve efficiency in design and development by enabling OEMs to utilize current investments in the Windows Embedded CE platform, including board support packages (BSPs), hardware and design resources.

With the addition of Silverlight for Windows Embedded, Microsoft Expression Blend and the other new design technologies to the Windows Embedded CE platform, developers and OEMs now have access to the broad ecosystem of Microsoft partners participating in the Silverlight Partner Initiative and can leverage their existing design skills in the embedded device market.

For example, during ESC Boston Microsoft and Microsoft Gold Certified Partner Infragistics, a leader in UI design and development tools, along with Adeneo, a leading systems integrator and Windows Embedded Gold Partner, will demonstrate a CID user experience built on Windows Embedded CE 6.0 R3. This demonstration will showcase a rich user experience that is possible on the device and in the browser. More information on the Silverlight Partner Initiative and the directory of program participants is available at

More information on Windows Embedded CE 6.0 R3 and the entire Windows Embedded portfolio of platforms and technologies is available at

Windows 7 to the Embedded Community

Meanwhile, also at ESC, Microsoft announced its initial rollout of Windows 7 technologies to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) of specialized devices through the RTM of the next-generation platforms for Windows Embedded Enterprise and Windows Embedded Server.

"The release of Windows 7 technologies to the embedded community underscores Microsoft's strategic commitment to enable device manufacturers to extend the power of the PC and address the budding market for specialized devices," said Steve Guggenheimer, corporate vice president of the Original Equipment Manufacturer Division at Microsoft, in a statement . "Providing Windows 7 technologies for OEMs to utilize in their next-generation devices will allow them to offer end users of enterprise and consumer devices enhanced capabilities through improved user experiences and connectivity to the established Windows ecosystem." 

Windows 7 Professional for Embedded Systems and Windows 7 Ultimate for Embedded Systems are the next-generation platforms in the Windows Embedded Enterprise portfolio for OEMs seeking full Windows application compatibility, Microsoft said. Both are fully functional, license-restricted versions of the Windows 7 desktop operating system with full Windows application compatibility intended for use in embedded devices, including ATMs, kiosks, industrial PCs and medical devices.

Windows Embedded Enterprise capabilities and features include multitouch capabilities, enterprise connectivity enabled by Microsoft DirectAccess and BranchCache, and legacy support through Windows XP Mode.

Meanwhile, Windows Server 2008 R2 for Embedded Systems builds on the Windows Server 2008 for Embedded Systems platform, with new features to assist OEMs in delivering dedicated embedded solutions and appliances with increased reliability and flexibility for unified messaging, telecommunications, security, medical imaging and industrial automation markets, said Ashwin Kulkarni, a program manager on the Windows Embedded team. New virtualization tools, management enhancements and Server Core help save time and reduce costs, he said.

Windows Embedded Server 2008 R2 capabilities and features include increased reliability with the Server Core installation option, which reduces the footprint of the OEM solutions by eliminating the graphical user interface, while supporting more server roles such as the .NET application. The product features also include improved management with Microsoft Hyper-V by running new and legacy functionality side by side while ensuring workload isolation, and Windows PowerShell 2.0, which includes remote server management for improved ease of deployment; and improved connection to other devices and services with Agile VPN for a highly reliable virtual private networking (VPN) tunnel; DirectAccess to configure a more secure communication path between remote devices and centralized data in headquarters, without going through VPN authentication; and improvements in failover clustering to help OEMs deliver a better connected system with improved application and operating system availability.

"The proliferation of devices integrating into enterprise infrastructures continues to create opportunities for developers and OEMs to build specialized devices that center around connectivity, enhanced user interfaces and time to market," said Stephen Balacco, director of the Embedded Software & Tools Practice for VDC Research Group, in a statement. "Microsoft's success in this area is the development of devices that are not necessarily resource-constrained, may not require any special hardware or software, and where third-party application software might already exist. These Windows 7-based embedded platforms will continue to build upon Microsoft's success and strategy to offer OEMs a standard general-purpose off-the-shelf environment that can be an attractive fit both technically and financially for specialized device development."

Microsoft also recently announced the availability of the Windows 7-based Windows Embedded Standard 2011 community technology preview to OEMs and developers worldwide, at Windows Embedded Standard 2011 delivers the power, familiarity and reliability of the Windows 7 operating system in a highly customizable and componentized form, enabling OEMs in industrial automation, entertainment, consumer electronics and other markets to focus on their core competencies and create product differentiation, Microsoft officials said.

Windows Embedded Standard 2011 will RTM in the first half of calendar year 2010.


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