With the tech world swooning under the spell of the recently released Windows 8 Consumer Preview and Windows Server 8 Beta, Microsoft this week also discussed another Windows 8 version aimed at the embedded market. Dubbed Windows Embedded Standard 8, this product is also now available in a pre-release version for testing.
"With Windows Embedded, developers can use the same trusted tools used in building applications for Windows 8 to build specialized devices within line-of-business applications, extending the power of Windows 8 and the cloud to intelligent systems," a Microsoft press release notes. "Using the Windows Embedded platform, retailers can build smart digital signage and intelligent kiosks. Manufacturers can connect shop floor devices to back-end IT. In medicine, equipment for ultrasounds, x-rays, and MRIs can deliver results directly to doctors at the bedside. "
OK, so this isn't as exciting as, say, 7" consumer tablets and touch-capable all-in-one PCs. I get that. But by making its embedded OS look and work like the mainstream Windows 8 versions and—more important—behave in a similar manner for developers, Microsoft can further improve its chances of a "Windows Everywhere" future.
The company also notes that this product is part of a wider Intelligent Systems product line that dates back to the original Windows CE from the mid-1990s. Now developed by the Microsoft Server and Tools Business team (part of the same group responsible for Windows Server), Windows Embedded is already used today in a broad range of solutions.
Windows Embedded Standard 8 is available now as a free Community Tech Preview (CTP). You can download the Windows Embedded Standard 8 CTP from the Microsoft website.