Microsoft has announced the general availability of Windows Embedded Compact 2013, the company’s operating system for powering small embedded devices such as sensors and industrial machinery.
The OS is optimized for building small-footprint industry devices that sit at the edge of the enterprise. Windows Embedded Compact 2013 includes new tools and capabilities — including new support for Visual Studio 2012 — that extend the experience of Windows and help businesses capitalize on the Internet of Things, Microsoft said.
Indeed, the new release offers improvements for developers who build devices on Windows Embedded Compact 2013. “With this release, we focused on making developers’ lives easier,” said Steven Bridgeland, senior product manager for Windows Embedded at Microsoft, in a statement. “Support for Visual Studio 2012 offers significant improvements for developers, including a simplified UI and sharper syntax colorization, and tools such as improved compilers, auto-generation of code snippets and XAML tools.”
With the Visual Studio 2012 support, developers can leverage Microsoft’s Platform Builder and Application Builder technologies that are available as part of the toolset. Platform Builder is a collection of all the development tools necessary for developers to design, create, build, test and debug a Windows Embedded Compact-based platform, said Colin Murphy, technical program manager for Windows Embedded at Microsoft, in a June 13 blog post.
“Platform Builder hosted in Visual Studio 2012 inherits not only the familiar Platform Builder experience that existing Windows Embedded Compact developers use, but also offers all of the latest Visual Studio 2012 experiences as well,” Murphy said in the post. This includes, but is not limited to, the latest ARM and x86 compilers and GUI including ‘IntelliSense,’ which helps speed up app development.”
Application Builder for Windows Embedded Compact 2013 enables managed and native application development using Visual Studio 2012. It provides an easy application deployment mechanism and other Visual Studio integration features, Microsoft said.
“Application Builder partnered with an SDK spun from Platform Builder gives an application developer the ability to create applications targeting a specific device,” Murphy said. “Application Builder SDKs are all-inclusive and contain not only all matching header and library files, but application templates and tool sets as well, ensuring matching files, end to end, from the device to the app.”
The new OS release is the latest generation of one of the smallest and most flexible products in the Windows Embedded portfolio, designed to power devices that need real-time performance and silicon flexibility, with support for x86 and ARM architectures.
Microsoft Windows Embedded Compact 2013 Ships
Microsoft says Windows Embedded Compact 2013 is ideal for powering some of the smallest industry devices, such as programmable logic controllers and human-machine interface panels used to monitor processes in manufacturing, RFID scanners in retail environments, and portable ultrasound machines and diagnostic lab equipment in health care settings. When these devices are connected via the cloud to back-end systems, the resulting intelligent system generates data that can be harnessed and analyzed to provide actionable insight for the enterprise. That data is considered the new currency of business.
“It’s now essential for businesses to tap into the vast potential of data if they want to compete,” said Kevin Dallas, general manager for Windows Embedded at Microsoft, in a statement. “With Windows Embedded powering industry devices, that data is made readily available to drive real, actionable operational intelligence for industries. Windows Embedded Compact 2013 is a really powerful, flexible platform for extending that capability to some of the smallest industry devices.”
Murphy said Microsoft has been in the embedded space for 15 years with its OS. “In that time, this little OS has evolved from one target category—small handheld devices—to a general-purpose embedded system that powers everything from tiny controls, to retail POS terminals, to the automation of high-end manufacturing,” he said. “Windows Embedded Compact continues to differentiate itself within Microsoft, and within the larger ecosystem, as an operating system targeting small-footprint devices that need real-time performance and silicon flexibility.”
Microsoft said users will see some major improvements to device functionality with Windows Embedded Compact 2013. “Performance was a particular focus in this release,” Bridgeland said. “We have spent countless hours optimizing our code to greatly improve system and network performance, making applications feel snappier.”
Other new or improved features include improvements to the core operating system, including memory management and networking capabilities; improved file-system performance; optimized startup, with snapshot boot, which allows devices to boot within seconds to a known state, such as a specific UI with device drivers loaded; built-in support for WiFi, cellular and Bluetooth technologies, and a seamless connection to Windows Azure, for a connected intelligent system; and the support from thousands of developers and partners, who have built add-on solutions, including HTML5 browsers
The availability of Windows Embedded Compact 2013 is a key component of Microsoft’s road map for intelligent systems, a vision first announced in fall 2011.