Microsoft has touted its upcoming Windows 8 platform as an answer to the post-PC era that has been dominated by mobile devices like tablets and smartphones. As Windows 8 is designed to run as a cross-platform operating system, Microsoft plans to keep its dominant position in the OS industry by making sure it covers embedded devices as well.

One Windows 8 To Rule Them All

Microsoft is presenting its roadmap for embedded devices, and it's clear at this point that the company will likewise be pushing its Windows 8 platform for embedded devices once the new operating system is ready for public consumption.

Microsoft believes that embedded devices can now be a part of the larger cloud-based network and exchange real-time data for better processing of information. This can include analyzing user activities and preferences. "Intelligent systems offer endless possibilities for organizations to collect and act on information in real time, from understanding customer buying habits to tracking product shipments around the globe," says Windows Embedded GM Kevin Dallas.

Enterprise OS for Embedded Devices

As such, Microsoft is presenting three key versions of its embedded OS product line, and all will be based on Windows 8.

  • Windows Embedded Enterprise v.Next -- This will be Microsoft's mainstream offering for enterprises that need to set up kiosks and bank ATMs. The update will be available to customers in 2012, after the general release of Windows 8.
  • Windows Embedded Standard v.Next -- This is a componentized variant of Windows 8 embedded meant for different devices, including those that support alternative architectures like ARM. This variant will be available to enterprises about three weeks after general availability of Windows 8.
  • Windows Embedded Compact v.Next -- This variant is designed for devices with small footprints, and will launch by second half of 2012. The Windows 8 for embedded device variant will support Visual Studio 2010. This variant is also likely to support both Intel x86 and ARM platforms.

Microsoft has not yet disclosed the exact release date for Microsoft Windows 8, although this is said to be sometime in 2012. With these announcements, Microsoft has not included details for other embedded systems, though, such as Windows Embedded Server, Windows Embedded Handheld, POSRedy and Embedded Automotive platforms, although the company explained that they are "investing in these to include the latest Microsoft technologies."