Microsoft Gears Up Windows for Devices

Microsoft plans a new version of Windows Embedded CE for service-oriented devices and to encourage developer support.

Microsoft is working on delivering the next version of Windows Embedded CE in November and on tapping the market for service-enabled devices.

Kevin Dallas, general manager of Microsofts Windows Embedded Business group, said the company plans to launch Windows Embedded CE 6.0 R2 on Nov. 15 at the Embedded Technology 2007 show in Yokohama, Japan. The show is described on its Web site as "the worlds largest trade show and conference for embedded system designers and managers."

The new operating system will be the foundation for service-oriented devices, Dallas told eWEEK in an interview. Windows Embedded CE 6.0 will feature support for Web services on devices, VOIP (voice-over-IP) video technology capabilities and Internet Explorer updates, Dallas said.

"Were clear on the opportunity moving forward," Dallas said. "And were going to deliver an operating system to go into an intelligent device."

Dallas said the "intelligent device" space, which others refer to as the smart-phone market, is growing at "an exponential rate."


Click here to read about the initial steps taken toward developing Vista embedded applications.

Indeed, Ilya Bukshteyn, director of Windows Embedded marketing at Microsoft, based in Redmond, Wash., said the company estimates that between 2006 and 2010 the market for connected enterprise devices is expected to grow by 23 percent per year, and the market for connected consumer devices is expected to grow at a rate of 50 percent per year.

"Growth is accelerating because these devices are becoming connected and enabling connected experiences, so we needed to focus more on end-user experience," Dallas said.

Moreover, service-oriented devices based on the new Microsoft platform will better enable users to take advantage of technology trends such as software plus services, many core hardware technologies, loosely coupled services and service-oriented development, the company said.

The new operating system also will enable devices to discover new services and act on them, Dallas said.

The teams efforts to service-orient the platform are building on the technology already built into Microsofts Windows Vista operating system, including WSD (Web Services for Devices), Bukshteyn said.

Meanwhile, Dallas said the new features in Windows Embedded CE 6.0 R2 will provide support to enable services "on the chip, on the circuit board, on the premise[s] or in the cloud; it doesnt matter where it is."

Moreover, Dallas said he sees a growth opportunity not only in supporting new devices at the operating system level, but also in terms of services. "There is an opportunity for management services or other services," Dallas said, referring both to Microsoft and its partners.

"Were not talking three to five years from now, were talking 12 to 24 months. … The next phase is the devices become service-aware, and if I could remotely manage a device and monitor it, I could more easily support the device" and users, Dallas said. And as devices become more service-aware, the devices will be able to tap into the wealth of data that exists on all the collective devices, he said.

In addition, Microsofts new operating system will better enable providers to know how users are interfacing with the devices—which could perhaps be used to deliver ads directly to users devices based on the history of how those devices have been used.

"Our role is to deliver the enabling platform," Dallas said, referring to the operating system, tools and enabling services. "This is an opportunity to drive more value to the customer."

However, Dallas said, he knows the success of the platform will depend largely on how well Microsoft interacts with its partner ecosystem.

"We have to make sure we have the right partner ecosystem in place and that we work with and invest in our partners," he said.

Dallas said connected devices empower services such as management, usage, location, advertising and capability for OEMs, enterprise IT or service providers.

Bukshteyn said Microsoft is looking at the devices world and focusing on both the consumer and enterprise categories. The consumer category includes such products as set-top boxes, digital music platforms and location devices. The enterprise category includes products like kiosks, ATMs, thin clients, industrial automation devices and other embedded devices.

Moreover, Bukshteyn said Microsoft sees a need to "change the mind-set of people building and planning devices" as well as the applications that empower the "experience" of the device.

"We see the world evolving to a set of connected experiences," including in the realms of entertainment, communication, automating homes and the enterprise, where IT is tasked with deploying and managing connected devices, Bukshteyn said.

Microsoft will deliver the next version of Windows XP Embedded in 2008, Bukshteyn said. Microsoft officials said the Windows Embedded team is working with other parts of the company to deliver new features and software, such as the so-called MinWin, a stripped-down version of the Windows core that will be part of Windows 7.


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