Microsoft Corp. handed developers a working copy of its Windows XP
operating system for embedded systems, debuting its second operating
system for devices such as handheld computers and set-top boxes this
The beta 2 release of Windows XP Embedded gives hardware makers the
tools needed to build operating systems for such devices as server
appliances and automated industrial machines based on Microsoft's
Windows XP Professional desktop operating system.
"If it's in Windows XP, then it will be in Windows XP Embedded," said
Kelly Meagher, product manager for Microsoft's embedded and appliance
platforms group. "Developers can access the same technology, but in a
An embedded operating system is built as a set of components, allowing
developers to pick and choose which pieces of the operating system they
need for certain devices. Windows XP Embedded includes more than 10,000
components, the company said. Some of those include such features as
Microsoft's instant messaging technology, Windows file protection and
Microsoft's encrypted file system.
Windows XP Embedded will feature support for a range of networking
technologies such as 802.11 and variations of that wireless protocol.
The operating system also supports the Kerberos security standard as
well as USB and Universal Plug and Play.
Microsoft said it would release the final version of the embedded
software soon after the anticipated Windows XP operating system
officially debuts on Oct. 25. Products running Windows XP Embedded are
expected to hit the market as early as January 2002, the company said.
Microsoft this month also released a Beta 2 Version of the next
generation of the Windows CE operating system, code-named "Talisker."
That embedded operating system will run on Microsoft's "Stinger" smart
phone and the AutoPC -- a computer terminal installed in a car
dashboard -- Microsoft has said. The Redmond, Washington software maker
also has an embedded operating system based on the Windows NT 4.0
The software maker's range of embedded offerings pits it against a
number of competitors. Windows CE targets the market currently
dominated by such software makers as Palm Inc. The company also faces
competition from companies that build their own embedded systems in
house and other market leaders such as Wind River Systems Inc., which
provides embedded systems for such markets as mobile phones and medical
Market researchers said Windows XP Embedded is specifically aimed at
the market for server appliances, such as Sun Microsystems Inc.'s
Cobalt Cube, a low-cost, Linux-based server dedicated to individual
serving functions. That puts Windows XP Embedded in competition with
similar products running open source operating systems, according to
Chris Le Tocq, an analyst with Guernsey Research.
"The competition here is mainly Linux and FreeBSD," Le Tocq said.
Microsoft has not detailed any new products that its development
partners plan to ship running the embedded system. The company did sign
on two new partners that will develop products based on the embedded
system -- Wincor Nixdorf GmbH and Co. KG and Retalix Ltd.
The software maker has not discussed any of its own expected products
running Windows XP Embedded, though it has eyed such devices as
residential gateways, advanced set-top boxes and retail point of sale
"It's too early to say which devices will be built with the operating
system," Meagher said.