Microsoft Pushes Windows Embedded 8 to Enterprises

Microsoft is making its Windows Embedded 8 technology available to enterprises through new volume licensing options.

Microsoft has announced new volume licensing options for enterprises to get specific versions of the company’s Windows Embedded 8 operating systems.

As of July 1, enterprises can take advantage of a new volume licensing option to obtain systems—the technology that powers industry devices within the intelligent systems, the company said.

“As enterprises increasingly look to harness the potential of the Internet of Things, we recognize this equates to realizing added value from industry devices and capitalizing on intelligent system solutions that improve operational intelligence,” says Barb Edson, general manager of marketing and business development for Windows Embedded at Microsoft, in a statement. “The addition of the volume licensing option provides enterprises with more control of their devices by offering the flexibility to upgrade to the latest generation of software, enabling new features and enhancing experiences through Windows Embedded 8 without upgrading their hardware.”

The Internet of Things refers to a vision of the future where everyday things, devices, homes, cities, cars and other items are infused with intelligence and ubiquitously connected to the Internet.

Edson said enterprises in the retail, manufacturing, health care and other industries can now gain direct access to features, functionality and a version of Windows Embedded 8 specific to enterprises for their devices via new volume licensing options for Windows Embedded 8--and Windows Embedded 8.1, when it becomes generally available in alignment with Windows 8.1 release timing. It marks the first time technologies from Windows Embedded have been programmatically available directly to enterprises, Microsoft said.

“The new volume licensing options for specific versions of Windows Embedded 8 offer enterprises the opportunity to upgrade their Windows Embedded software to Windows Embedded 8 Industry, seamlessly and affordably, without upgrading their devices,” Edson said in a blog post. “It also allows enterprises to unlock powerful enterprise features in their devices already running on Windows Embedded 8 Standard.

Windows Embedded licenses available to enterprises under the new program include the following:

Windows Embedded 8 Industry Pro: A license for a fixed Windows Embedded 8 image, which adds features for industry specific devices to Windows 8. This is available as a full upgrade through Volume Licensing, as long as the customer has a qualified operating system.

Windows Embedded 8 Industry Enterprise: A license for an enterprise edition of Windows Embedded 8 that includes the BranchCache, Direct Access and Applocker enterprise features. It is available through Software Assurance only.

Windows Embedded 8 Standard Enterprise Kit: When this kit is purchased through volume licensing, the enterprise receives a key that unlocks special features within its Windows Embedded 8 Standard operating system, including BranchCache, DirectAccess and Applocker.

Enterprises use industry devices—spanning from kiosks and digital signage in retail, to self-check-in kiosks and other medical devices used in hospitals, to automated manufacturing solutions—to create actionable data, Microsoft said. When that data is mined by back-end data centers as part of an intelligent system, it can uncover new areas of business intelligence, creating a rapid-fire, continuous loop of insight and action that drives the enterprise forward.

Windows Embedded 8 solutions operate with existing Microsoft technologies, allowing enterprises to connect edge devices with their current IT infrastructures and Windows environment—all on a single platform. The new volume licensing option opens up new avenues for enterprises that desire greater control over their device experiences and wish to upgrade their software independent of hardware and access enterprise-specific features, Microsoft said.

For example, the software giant said a large, international retailer that employs kiosks, built by multiple OEMs, in multiple store locations could benefit from the new licensing. To standardize the customer experience across all device types and manage one device image across all kiosks, the retailer can use the benefits of Microsoft Software Assurance to gain access to Windows Embedded 8 Industry Enterprise through Microsoft Volume Licensing.

This allows the retailer to quickly and seamlessly create a single, consolidated image across the device ecosystem, independent of OEM choice, Microsoft said. Software Assurance also offers enhanced centralized control; provides the enterprise control of which apps run on which devices and the ability to lock down one or all apps with Applocker; and allows the enterprise to locally cache files, Websites and other content from central servers with BranchCache, instead of repeatedly downloading across the WAN, the company said.