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The Microsoft Windows embedded product portfolio has just been given a hefty push into the limelight with the official release of Windows 7 technologies over to what Microsoft refers to as manufacturers of specialized devices.

During an industry address at the Embedded Systems Conference in Boston yesterday, Microsoft announced the initial roll out of the program through the release to manufacturing of next-gen platforms for Windows Embedded Enterprise and Windows Embedded Server to OEMs of specialized devices.

The same day, Microsoft also let slip feature enhancements and RTM details of Windows Embedded CE 6.0 R3 for streamlined connectivity to Windows 7 based machines. This will deliver the Silverlight experience through the Silverlight for Windows Embedded user interface framework, an out-of-browser, native code implementation of Microsoft Silverlight technology used to create rich, immersive UIs on Windows Embedded CE 6.0 R3-based devices.

“With the release of Windows Embedded CE 6.0 R3, Microsoft has furthered its commitment to energize the evolution of consumer Internet devices (CIDs), which fall between Smartphones and the full-featured, small Windows-based notebooks, by empowering our OEM and developer ecosystem with innovative, new technologies to fuel rich, animated and compelling user experiences,” said Kevin Dallas, general manager of the Windows Embedded Business Unit at Microsoft. “Microsoft has reaffirmed its investment in the Windows Embedded CE operating system and raised the bar by providing embedded OEMs with access to Visual Studio, Silverlight, Expression Blend and other advanced Microsoft technologies. These technologies help drive innovation and differentiation in devices, redefine the way users interact with devices at work and home, and deliver a consistent experience for end users across devices, Windows 7-based PCs, servers and online services.”

Meanwhile, the Windows 7 Professional for Embedded Systems and Windows 7 Ultimate for Embedded Systems are the next-generation platforms in the Windows Embedded Enterprise portfolio for OEMs seeking full Windows application compatibility. Both are fully functional, license-restricted versions of the Windows 7 desktop operating system with full Windows application compatibility intended for use in embedded devices, including ATMs, kiosks, industrial PCs and medical devices.

“The release of Windows 7 technologies to the embedded community underscores Microsoft’s strategic commitment to enable device manufacturers to extend the power of the PC and address the budding market for specialized devices,” said Steve Guggenheimer, corporate vice president of the Original Equipment Manufacturer Division at Microsoft. “Providing Windows 7 technologies for OEMs to utilize in their next-generation devices will allow them to offer end users of enterprise and consumer devices enhanced capabilities through improved user experiences and connectivity to the established Windows ecosystem.”

Windows Embedded Enterprise features include:

Multitouch operation with Windows Touch allows users to control the device by touching the screen, while receiving visual feedback for touch and multitouch gestures (available with Windows 7 Professional for Embedded Systems and Windows 7 Ultimate for Embedded Systems).

Enterprise connectivity enabled by Microsoft DirectAccess and BranchCache provides a more secure and flexible network infrastructure to remotely update device application data (available with Windows 7 Ultimate for Embedded Systems).

Legacy support through Windows XP Mode provides a virtual Windows XP environment in which OEMs can run existing Windows XP applications on a Windows 7-based device (available with Windows 7 Professional for Embedded Systems and Windows 7 Ultimate for Embedded Systems).

Windows Embedded Server 2008 R2 features include:

Increased reliability with the Server Core installation option, which reduces the footprint of the OEM solutions by eliminating the graphical user interface, while supporting more server roles such as the .NET application.

Improved management with Microsoft Hyper-V by running new and legacy functionality side by side while ensuring workload isolation, and Windows PowerShell 2.0, which includes remote server management for improved ease of deployment.

Improved connection to other devices and services with Agile VPN for a highly reliable virtual private networking (VPN) tunnel; DirectAccess to configure a more secure communication path between remote devices and centralized data in headquarters, without going through VPN authentication; and improvements in failover clustering to help OEMs deliver a better connected system with improved application and operating system availability.

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