|OS family||Microsoft Windows|
|Kernel type||Hybrid kernel|
|License||Commercial proprietary software|
|Under Embedded name: Variable (some versions out of support), up to 2019 (mainstream) and 2023 (extended) |
Under new IoT name: Mainstream support to at least 2020 and extended 2025
Windows IoT, formerly Windows Embedded, is a family of operating systems from Microsoft designed for use in embedded systems. Microsoft currently has three different subfamilies of operating systems for embedded devices targeting a wide market, ranging from small-footprint, real-time devices to point of sale (POS) devices like kiosks. Windows Embedded operating systems are available to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), who make it available to end users preloaded with their hardware, in addition to volume license customers in some cases.
In April 2018, Microsoft released Azure Sphere, another operating system designed for IoT applications running on the Linux kernel.
- 1 History
- 2 The IoT family
- 3 The Embedded family
- 4 References
- 5 Further reading
- 6 External links
In mid-1998, Microsoft worked with VenturCom, for their Windows NT Embedded product. Windows NT Embedded 4.0 got its start in 1998 with a small team of developers at Microsoft. This project, known within Microsoft as Impala, was released in 1999 as Windows NT Embedded 4.0—a set of tools and a database of approximately 250 components that allowed developers to put together small Windows NT 4.0 run-time images for embedded devices. The tools allowed OEMs and embedded developers to create components encapsulating their binaries, and to add them seamlessly into Windows NT Embedded runtimes containing limited functionality and devices. Minimum run-time images were as small as 9 MB for a system featuring the full Win32 API. Shortly after release, in early 2000, Microsoft decided that it was best to take that architecture and make a new product leveraging the new Windows code. A new Windows Embedded team was formed, under the leadership of Bruce Beachman. He served as the Product Unit Manager (PUM) of the first Windows Embedded – and started recruiting engineers within Microsoft. The team set their sights on this next version. A decision was made to stop development of Windows 2000 Embedded, and start work on a Windows XP Embedded product (then called Whistler). Plans were drawn up, the team was expanded, and work started on Whistler Embedded, codenamed Mantis. The component count has risen from 250 to over 10,000—most of them device-driver components. The feature set of the embedded tools was enriched to include things like basic version control, component scripting, and expandability. Tools were also added to make it easier to start with a blank slab of hardware and to deploy an embedded OS on it quickly and easily. On August 26, 2001, Beta 2 of Windows XP Embedded was released, with a full release planned for later that year. The initial team consisted of:
- Tim Hill, Group Program Manager who was in charge of the PM team, and served as the overall architect
- Mike Cherry, Program Manager, who was leading the infrastructural process work
- Bill Luan, Program Manager, who was in charge of the design of the first internal tool iCat, which enabled all the Windows team engineers to "componentize" their features in Windows. Later, this product became the Windows Embedded Component Designer in the released product
- Steve Jiang, Program Manager, who was in charge of the first version of the Target Design, which is the product that enabled developers to build embedded target images
Target Designer and Component Designer was the two-parts suite in the first version of Windows Embedded Suite. The first test team manager was Bombo Sofa, who lead the first XPe Test team starting in 2000. Under Bruce Beachman's leadership, Microsoft shipped the first version of Windows Embedded (XPe) at the DevCon / Windows Hardware Conference in 2001.
In 2002, Bruce Beachman left Microsoft, and Peter Wilson took over the XPe team as its PUM, and by then the team was merged into Windows Deployment team, and they released XPe SP1 at DevCon in Las Vegas in late 2003.
The IoT family
Microsoft rebranded "Windows Embedded" to "Windows IoT" starting with the release of embedded versions of Windows 10.
Windows 10 IoT Enterprise, based on Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC/LTSB, is the successor to both Embedded Industry and Embedded Standard with plain unlabeled, Retail/Thin Client, Tablet, and Small Tablet versions available; differing only in licensing.
Windows 10 IoT Mobile, based on Windows 10 Mobile, is the successor to Embedded Handheld.
Windows 10 IoT Mobile Enterprise adds ARM support, multiple user profiles, advanced lockdown, and other capabilities, but is otherwise identical to the normal Mobile version.
Windows 10 IoT Core is considered by some to be the successor to Windows Embedded Compact, although it maintains very little compatibility with it. Optimized for smaller and lower-cost industry devices, it is also provided free of charge for use in devices like the Raspberry Pi for hobbyist use.
Windows 10 IoT Core Pro provides the ability to defer and control updates and is licensed only via distributors; it is otherwise identical to the normal IoT Core version.
The Embedded family
Windows Embedded Compact (previously known as Windows Embedded CE or Windows CE) is the version of Windows Embedded for very small computers and embedded systems, including consumer electronics devices like set-top boxes and video game consoles. Windows Embedded Compact is a modular real-time operating system with a specialized kernel that can run in under 1 MB of memory. It comes with the Platform Builder tool that can be used to add modules to the installation image to create a custom installation, depending on the device used. Windows Embedded Compact is available for ARM, MIPS, SuperH and x86 processor architectures.
Microsoft made available a specialized version of Windows Embedded Compact, known as Windows Mobile, for use in mobile phones. It is a customized image of Windows Embedded Compact along with specialized modules for use in Mobile phones. Windows Mobile was available in four variants: Windows Mobile Classic (for Pocket PC), Windows Mobile Standard (for smartphones) and Windows Mobile Professional (for PDA/Pocket PC Phone Edition) and Windows Mobile for Automotive (for communication/entertainment/information systems used in automobiles). Modified versions of Windows Mobile were used for Portable Media Centers. In 2010, Windows Mobile was replaced by Windows Phone 7, which was also based on Windows Embedded Compact, but was not compatible with any previous products.
Windows Embedded Compact 2013 is a real-time operating system which runs on ARM, X86, SH, and derivatives of those architectures. It included .NET Framework, UI framework, and various open source drivers and services as 'modules'.
Windows Embedded Standard is the brand of Windows Embedded operating systems designed to provide enterprises and device manufacturers the freedom to choose which capabilities will be part of their industry devices and intelligent system solutions, intended to build ATMs and devices for the healthcare and manufacturing industries, creating industry-specific devices. This brand consists of Windows NT 4.0 Embedded, Windows XP Embedded, Windows Embedded Standard 2009 (WES09), Windows Embedded Standard 7, and Windows Embedded 8 Standard. It provides the full Win32 API. Windows Embedded Standard 2009 includes Silverlight, .NET Framework 3.5, Internet Explorer 7, Windows Media Player 11, RDP 6.1, Network Access Protection, Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer and support for being managed by Windows Server Update Services and System Center Configuration Manager.
Windows Embedded Standard 7 is based on Windows 7 and was previously codenamed Windows Embedded 'Quebec'. Windows Embedded Standard 7 includes Windows Vista and Windows 7 features such as Aero, SuperFetch, ReadyBoost, Windows Firewall, Windows Defender, Address space layout randomization, Windows Presentation Foundation, Silverlight 2, Windows Media Center among several other packages. It is available in IA-32 and x64 versions and was released in 2010. It has a larger minimum footprint (~300 MB) compared to 40 MB of XPe and also requires product activation. Windows Embedded Standard 7 was released on April 27, 2010. Windows Embedded 8 Standard was released on March 20, 2013.
For Embedded Systems (FES)
Currently divided into two brands, FES products are binary identical versions of the OSes as are available in retail but are licensed exclusively for use in embedded devices. They are available for both IA-32 as well as x64 processors.
Windows Embedded Pro, formerly Windows Embedded Enterprise, is a brand that consists of non server FES products including Windows NT Workstation, Windows 2000 Professional, Windows XP Professional, Windows Vista Business and Ultimate, Windows 7 Professional and Ultimate, Windows 8 Pro, and Windows 8.1 Pro. Microsoft renamed "Windows Embedded Enterprise" to "Windows Embedded Pro" starting with Windows Embedded 8 Pro.
Windows Embedded Server is a brand that consists of FES server products including Server, Home Server, SQL Server, Storage Server, DPM Server, ISA Server, UAG Server, TMG Server, and Unified Data Storage Server etc. of various years including 2000, 2003, 2003 R2, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2008 R2, 2012, and 2012 R2 etc.
Windows Embedded Industry is the brand of Windows Embedded operating systems for industry devices and once only for point of sale systems. This brand was limited to the Windows Embedded for Point of Service operating system released in 2006, which is based on Windows XP Embedded. Microsoft also has an updated version of Windows Embedded for Point of service, named Windows embedded POSReady 2009. However, Windows Embedded POSReady 7 based on Windows 7 SP1 was released in 2011 which succeeded POSReady 2009. Microsoft has since changed the name of this product from "Windows Embedded POSReady" to "Windows Embedded Industry". Microsoft released Windows Embedded 8 Industry in April 2013, followed by 8.1 Industry in October 2013.
Windows Embedded NAVReady also called as Navigation Ready which is plug-in component for Windows CE 5.0 and useful for building portable handheld navigation devices.
Windows Embedded Automotive, formerly Microsoft Auto, Windows CE for Automotive, Windows Automotive, and Windows Mobile for Automotive, is an embedded operating system based on Windows CE for use on computer systems in automobiles. The latest release, Windows Embedded Automotive 7 was announced on October 19, 2010.
On January 10, 2011, Microsoft announced Windows Embedded Handheld 6.5. The operating system has compatibility with Windows Mobile 6.5 and is presented as an enterprise handheld device, targeting retailers, delivery companies, and other companies that rely on handheld computing. Windows Embedded Handheld retains backward compatibility with legacy Windows Mobile applications. Windows Embedded 8.1 Handheld was released for manufacturing on April 23, 2014. Known simply as Windows Embedded 8 Handheld (WE8H) prior to release, it was designed as the next generation of Windows Embedded Handheld for line-of-business handheld devices and built on Windows Phone 8.1, which it also has compatibility with. Five Windows Embedded 8.1 Handheld devices have been released; Manufactured by Bluebird, Honeywell and Panasonic as listed below.
|Bluebird BM180 (BP30)||January 2014||1.5 GHz
720 × 1280 px
1080 × 1920 px
|8 MP||1.3 MP||Yes||Yes|
|Bluebird EF500 (EF500R)||September 2015||1.5 GHz
720 × 1280 px
1080 × 1920 px
|8 MP||1.3 MP||Yes||Yes|
|Honeywell Dolphin 75e||April 2015||2.26 GHz
|2 GB||16 GB||4.3”
480 × 800 px
|Honeywell Dolphin CT50||April 2015||2.26 GHz
|2 GB||16 GB||4.7”
720 × 1280 px
|Panasonic Toughpad FZ-E1||August 2014||2.3 GHz
|2 GB||32 GB||5”
720 × 1280 px
|8 MP||1.3 MP||Yes||Yes|
- Microsoft. "Windows Embedded lifecycle". Retrieved August 4, 2017.
- Microsoft. "Windows IoT lifecycle". Retrieved August 4, 2017.
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- "Microsoft Announces the Next Version of Windows Embedded Standard to Be Built on Windows 7". News Center. Microsoft. October 28, 2008. Retrieved January 19, 2013.
- Foley, Mary Jo (June 6, 2008). "Windows Embedded 'Quebec' due in 2010". ZDNet. CBS Interactive. Retrieved January 19, 2013.
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- "Windows Embedded Handheld 6.5 Key Features". Windows Embedded portal. Microsoft. Retrieved January 19, 2013.
- "Windows Embedded 8.1 Handheld has been released to manufacturing; SDK is now generally available". Windows Embedded Blog. Retrieved April 25, 2016.
- "Windows Embedded 8.1 Handheld". Microsoft. Retrieved January 30, 2017.
- Kan, Michael (November 14, 2012). "Microsoft updates roadmap for Windows Embedded, more releases to come". PC World. IDG. Retrieved January 12, 2015.
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- Valazco, Chris (February 25, 2014). "Panasonic's latest Toughpad has the strength, thickness of 10 smartphones (hands-on)". Engadget. Retrieved January 19, 2015.