back to article Microsoft: 'Prepare for 15 billion more clients'

If you're an IT professional, Microsoft made an announcement last week that may increase both your capital expenditures budget and your job security. At the Embedded Systems Conference (ESC) in San José, California, Microsoft announced that the latest version of its OS for embedded systems, Windows Embedded Standard 7, had …


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  1. heyrick Silver badge

    Embedded Windows? Perhaps not.

    A bit late in the game, isn't it? And, really, has Microsoft shown a track record for stability and security?

    I'm "fiddling" with one of my embedded devices right now, an ARM based PVR. It runs a version of Debian. My older PVR (closed source, but more or less the same hardware) would appear to run a basic custom OS (might be a highly stripped version of Linux). The Orange Livebox has "busybox" as one of its OSS releases, so I think it's a fair bet that is Linux-based. And my ethernet router with build in web server. Look behind the scenes, guess what OS that is running...

    Point is, a large number of embedded systems that totally pass most IT people by (clocking in/out machines, alarm systems, monitors, PVRs, etc etc etc) need to run a complete enough system on very small and not very powerful hardware. My PVR, for instance, is running an ARM9 core clocking around 200MHz, with a DSP to do all the video grunt-work. Flash is 16Mb and RAM is around 32Mb. It does the job perfectly well running its version of Debian. This isn't to say "ooh, isn't Linux good" but rather, there's a lot of embedded hardware that runs within a fairly mediocre specification.

    And the final point, is the embedded Windows open source? If not, it is liable to remain a niche player. I have a version called "etch" on a USB key which contains loads of stuff not included in the PVR's version. But for recording video, most of that stuff is not required. The manufacturers can modify the OS feature set as they wish, and given it is a "known" bit of hardware it would be possible to implement completely new functionality (it has SD card reader and ethernet, it could be retooled to serve as a basic web server, for instance). Some people have done pretty amazing things with standard network routers. Would this be possible with a closed OS?

    So, hi Microsft... bye Microsoft...

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Ain't buying it...

    "For an IT professional, it's now becoming critical that you think through how to be able to manage, provision, monitor, and provide security to [embedded] devices just like you do today with a laptop or a PC"

    Embedded devices like, oh I don't know, routers, switches, printers, or UPSs?

    "All the benefits of Windows 7 in the PC, laptop, netbook, and server arena can now be extended into the specialized devices space, into the embedded space."

    Along with the resource requirements, licence fees, and security holes?

    "You want to bring in web services? You want to feed in data into SQL Server? Sure, we can do that. You want to read data from SQL Server? Sure, we can do that. Business intelligence where it makes sense? We'll take care of that."

    But, surely, SQL Server can communicate with other platforms than MS? Can't it? Wasn't that the whole point of web services?

    Besides, whenever I hear a vendor saying "We'll take care of that", I start looking for my revolver.

  3. Josh 16

    Close to the right move, but...

    ...upon checking out Windows Embedded I discovered that it supports multiple processor architectures:

    - x86

    - x64

    Embedded devices are usually either one of these architectures:

    - ARM

    - AVR

    So how exactly do they plan on plugging in existing infrastructure and "drive down TCO" when you can't even run it on your existing infrastructure?

    Or can we expect Microsoft to be pushing us all into buying expensive and inefficient x86 embedded devices because they just can't be bothered porting their own OS to a different plaftform? Wonder how *that* will impact their precious TCO calculations.

  4. Trevor Pott o_O Gold badge

    Windows embedded.

    Check! As we use VDI for almost all of our users, we have just bought a set of Wyse clients to replace our desktops. Alas, not Windows Embedded 7, but Windows Embedded Standard 2009. (XP with some extra blue crystals.)

    The systems cost us $575 a crack and are totally solid state with no moving parts to break, not even fans. They come with the licence for WES 2009, and some funky toys that ensure that the user environment runs entirely in a RAM disk. (Anything that’s not in the ram disk is read-only.) So your user can do whatever they want to that system it’s simply not going to get infected, change settings or what-have-you. Reboot it, and *paf* its back to the way you wanted it. Wyse has nifty tools to manage these things, from imaging them to package deployment…none of this you couldn’t do on your own, but it’s all pre-canned in embedded devices. Needless to say, I am falling in love with the cigarette-pack solid state RDP clients we bought.

    We’ve even started trailing them as sand-alone wall units for dedicated tasks. (The biometric sign-in terminal, some order tracking terminals, etc.) Acer and HP have these 23” touch screen panels (1080p) that after some digging you can get XP drivers for. Works on these Wyse clients like a charm.

    HP makes similar gear, and this all gets complicated when we look at “The cloud.” IBM, (as an example,) just sunk a metric asstonne of money into some datacenter jiggery-poo and teamed up with Wyse for it. The idea being that IBM would toss as many VMs as you required in their DC< manage and administrate them for you, and provide you with Wyse clients. You would then simply RDP into your chunk of the IBM “cloud” and voila: network-in-a-box. Not sure how big I am on the idea of my entire network running in someone else’s datacenter, but it’s no different than what we do right now in the “internal cloud.” (Someone please, dear god, come up with something better than “cloud.”)

    Thus I can see where embedded devices fit into the corporate world. Or at least one way in which they do.

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Big Brother SISter Instrument for Immaculate Instruction

      "Not sure how big I am on the idea of my entire network running in someone else’s datacenter, but it’s no different than what we do right now in the “internal cloud.” (Someone please, dear god, come up with something better than “cloud.”)" ........ Trevor Pott o_O Posted Monday 3rd May 2010 01:38 GMT.

      A Crack Hacked datacentre would have the entire networks available for Stealthy HeXPloit Energy for Special Tempest Cloud Control. .......... Global Comment Control.

      1. Trevor Pott o_O Gold badge

        Good point.

        It's hard enough keeping a virus or other rampaging malware in check when you have only one corporate network to worry about. I am not sure how virtualising everything and shoving it in a single datacenter is any more or less of a threat than a vastly interconnected network of physical machines, but I do see risks inherent in multiple networks for multiple companies all virtualised on a single cluster in a single DC>

        Multiple vectors for infection via multiple different misconfigurations by multiple different sysadmins.

        One more reason to prefer the internal cloud to the hosted cloud.

    2. RanTalbott

      Better than "cloud"?

      What better term could there be for "a large, fuzzy concept that floats in a conceptual blue sky, whose shape is a point of intense disagreement"?

      Plus, the meteorological metaphor suggests an apt term for the MS version: "tornado". I.e., "a huge system of spin that sucks mightily and leaves a trail of devastation"...

  5. The Cube

    Hahahahahahhhahaaa! ha ha ha!

    Best joke I've heard all week. There are a number of real requirements for embedded OS;

    1) Small - strike out windows then

    2) Low maintenance, can't afford to be patching the thing every 30 seconds - oh, no windows then

    3) Reliable - well, "Sorry you died whilst your automated defibrillator was rebooting to complete installing important security patches to protect your health."

    4) Cheaper than the hardware it ships on to preserve margin for the vendor - oh well, no windows then - remember Microsoft can't arm twist Zanussi the same way they did Dell

    5) Runs on cheap, low power hardware - oops, sorry MS, don't need any Intel Inside here

    What nobody is going to give a toss about is;

    1) Integration with Active Directory, yeah, so my toaster can get a windows virus, attach to the network as me, infect all my files, read my contact list and send porn spam to everyone including my boss, thanks Microsoft, you make the world better...

    Oh, by the way, my users only care if it logs onto LinkedIn, Salesforce, GMail and maybe Facebook, their AD login is the least useful authentication they have.

    2) Complex and hard to debug integration with some unified "policy agent" bloatware. It is hard enough to make Active Dementory apply the group policy you want over PCs and laptops let alone 50 other kinds of device, I'll end up spending a fortune on AD management tools just to make it do half of what MS promised.

    3) .Net or some other runtime environment for unified development / integration with SQL server. Guess what, we have multi-platform languages now and most people are using them. People even write software for the closed in Apple iPhone, .NOT won't be selling people on embedded Windoze. As for SQL server, why would I pay for that when I can have mySQL for cheap and fast or Hadoop for really large and fast, if I am into wasting money on databases for the hell of it then I am already an Oracle customer anyway.

  6. lucmars

    Appealing but it's a myth

    So, with the same stuff you can empowered your connected devices, as far as they run the same stuff. Economy of scale is appealing but to extract any information from a bloat of data provided by the fridges, the toasters and any other connected gizmo (even a sale of point) that is a myth which can't be perform by your beautiful stuff.

  7. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    good luck with that

    good luck with that microsoft. i've seen newer embedded devices moving away fromwindows - fast - for just the reasons they allude to. an *embedded* system should be embedded, i.e. You don't think about what's in there, it's like an appliance. Dos did this. Os/2 did this. Wind river and other traditional oses doid and do this. So much stuff now has linux, both visibly and invisibly. It's windows and only windows where people have gottten atms, medical equipment, even windows based nas (network attached storage) and had it get pwned, and the suggested solution is to expect it to admin it!

  8. Random_Walk

    But, I already manage embedded devices...

    ...and they all run Linux.

  9. hahnchen

    This doesn't support ARM architecture does it?

    And given that Windows Phone 7 - is clearly stated for Phones only, that leaves a massive hole.

    Are embedded systems really going to stick to x86? Because I see them going the other way.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Odd view of embedded.

    "These specialized devices are becoming mission-critical,"

    Embedded systems have always been mission criticla far more so than most desktop systems or servers. The consequences of an embedded system failure is commonly death, serious injury or loss of expensive plant and equipment. In even the least critical embedded systems a software failure that prevents the use of a device, even for a short period, has never been accepted in the way that unreliable IT systems commonly are. Only in the 'IT' world are system failures commonly seen as relatively unimportant if they are for limitted duration.

    A focus on embedded systems is sensible from MS but windows will only ever be applicable to a small segment of an incredibly diverse area.

  11. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Down

    I hate to break it to Microsoft

    But *all* proper embedded operating systems are designed in this way to begin with. Where they may differ is weather any of those components can be on/off loaded while its running.

    More likely they look to want to repeat the old IE6 routine, hoping they can force server admins to switch because "Well *nothing* will manage this lot like our MS," probably because they "forgot" (or were not forced) to publish the interface specifications.

    Embedded developers. Microsoft is *not* an embedded OS company. It's a monopoly running company which has a lot of users because people believe they simply *cannot* adapt to learning 1 or more new UI's. If your hardware doesn't *need* a Windows interface, why go out of your way to shackle yourself to them?

    1. Random_Walk

      The reason why is simple.

      Windows and Office likely ain't paying the bills like it used to, and both are losing market share badly... not only to competition, but more importantly to their own legacy products (after all, the existing stuff works just fine, works even better on new hardware, and why the frig do I need to shell out over $200/seat for new CALs again?)

      Microsoft isn't dumb... they've been looking for new markets to pump money out of for years. Problem is, most of them aren't really paying off.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    With Emphasis on "Security"

    The botnet herders must me shuddering in ecstasy at the thought; especially of it being a Windows system.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bring on the criminal harm class action suit already.

    As a bum-on-seat warm body time waster and distractor, windows is unsurpassed. As a revenue stream for outsourced first line support suppliers, too. But embedded devices are those you expect to actually work.

    We've seen the first bluescreen-of-death car crash already. I certainly DO NOT want billions of devices that are supposed to do something useful (wasting time and paper in petty bureaucratic squabbles doesn't count, obviously) and perhaps even life-and-death type critical, infected with redmond's finest and ghod knows what else. Do you want to run a virusscanner on, oh, avionics, medical devices? Anyone who thinks redmondian polished turds is suitable for such deserves everything they'll get should they proceed. But that doesn't mean the rest of the world deserves the same fate.

  14. Camilla Smythe

    Well Gosh I read all of that... Not

    "For an IT professional, it's now becoming critical that you think through how to be able to manage, provision, monitor, and provide security to [embedded] devices just like you do today with a laptop or a PC"

    I really would like to pass a meaningful comment on that one but I will just squeeze out a monstrously huge and smelliliciously obnoxious fart capable of assaulting all Eighteen senses, plus the ones you do not know of yet beyond the immediate experience of extreme dehydration, and then just exit the room like it is not my problem.

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Thumb Up

      @Camilla Smythe

      "I really would like to pass a meaningful comment on that one but I will just squeeze out a monstrously huge and smelliliciously obnoxious fart capable of assaulting all Eighteen senses"

      You are a *lady*.

  15. Charles Manning

    Lots of embedded systems, but

    They won't be from Intel. They're mainly ARM. ARMs outsell x86 by at least an order of magnitude.

    They won't be Windows, they'll mainly be other OSs.

  16. Anonymous Coward

    Componentization is the real story

    The real story is how the further componentization of Windows is bearing fruit, but could also turn into a security nightmare with future worms that go after Windows Embedded too (think "Conficker Embedded"...).

    Part of the reason Vista took so long to come to market was the work to simplify Windows into dependency layers which could be more easily managed, secured and updated. By breaking down the Windows OS into layers and modules, you can get very small VM images, offerings like Windows Server Core, the "MinWin" research project internally at Microsoft, and now also full-kernel embedded Windows 7 where you can choose which components you (don't) want installed.

    You will be able to boot a minimal Windows 7 from a USB flash drive, but with full support for networking, .NET, AD Group Policy, WMI, RDP, HTTP, etc. We've been able to do things like this with Linux for many years, but now we can also do it with full Windows (and not just a BartPE or WinCE). This story deserves more attention than it's getting right now.

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Thumb Down

      @Jason Fossen

      "Part of the reason Vista took so long to come to market was the work to simplify Windows into dependency layers which could be more easily managed, secured and updated. "

      That would be due to the decades long accretion of inter-dependencies which no one had either the authority or the interest in untangling.

      "but now we can also do it with full Windows (and not just a BartPE or WinCE). This story deserves more attention than it's getting right now."

      I think it's getting *plenty* of attention. Mostly by people who can see far enough down the road to a FUBAR situation.

      An interesting side issue would be if this is a *true* subset of the Windows core codebase, or a completely *separate* copy. If so I think we can expect the usual MS situation of a completely different set of bugs and holes, which will need their own separate set of fixes.

      BTW I remember when MS wanted to be #1 in supplying the OS for PBX's. Thing is Telecomms Managers don't *expect* to reboot their PBX every day.

      It hasn't failed yet, but I'm not keen on *any* bit of embedded kit running Windows.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    One wonders if...

    The folk who make these devices with the wonderful Redmond tech inside will carry indemnity. After all, 16 billion more devices with around a 10% pwned rate. Well, that'll be so much fun.

    Paris, because not even she would spread herself around that much...

  18. This post has been deleted by its author

  19. Herby

    Windows embedded in a hospital?

    I don't think so! Now lets see how to bypass the blue screen of death. Oh, sorry, the patient died.

    Now lets go to the automobile brake control system. Would any car maker trust anything that was "mission critical" to another vendor? Flying lawsuits, and lawyer full employment assured.

    If I were an OEM that was considering an embedded operating system, anything with the name "Windows" (or Microsoft) would be on the DON'T buy list for the simple reason that I would have NO CONTROL over it. Microsoft changes something and my product doesn't work any more: really bad karma!

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge


      "If I were an OEM that was considering an embedded operating system, anything with the name "Windows" (or Microsoft) would be on the DON'T buy list for the simple reason that I would have NO CONTROL over it. "

      I *really* hate saying this but before Linux there were a number of proprietary *closed* source OS's supplied for embedded use. Wind Rivers (Lynx?), OS9 (and to a degree Symbian)spring to mind.

      What they did have were AFAIK a multi layered modular architecture (not one designed to intermix a proprietary browser to prevent it being untangled due to an antitrust case) *much* more stringent module and integration testing, more open interface specs (to allow developers to drop in their own modules seamlessly in) and an upgrade cycle normally in years, not weeks. The *whole* OS is a developer tool, and priced and licensed to match. End users are just *that* ,people who *use* it.

      These companies know their market, understand their users issues (typically hard response time limits and tightly controllable possibly variable process priorities, which regular Linux is *not* AFAIK optimized for) and deliver a complete environment to support them.

      People did (and AFAIK do) use them still. The loss of control due to the closed nature of the core of the code is offset by the better range of tools (who wants to write an Ada compiler?), faster time to market and the ability to focus on the core specialized features of a developers application without getting bogged down in the necessary but common bits. However what these suppliers have is the the *trust* in their customers that they do *not* deliver bug ridden, insecure bloated systems which are just waiting for the next virus infection.

  20. Herby

    15 billion??

    Just a thought, but that would be at least TWO items for every man, woman, and child on the planet. I doubt that!

  21. Cyfaill
    Thumb Down

    Microsoft, No thank you

    Its very simple, when ever I purchase any product that potentially has an embedded system, including an automobile engine management system... I ask.

    Does this device contain any Microsoft related products or systems, at any level.

    If so, I politely decline the purchase. And tell the sales people why.

    I am not radical about this... it is just good common sense.

    The joke about rebooting your car or phone or heart pacemaker... strikes me as not so funny when alternative systems are certainly available and superior. Open Source please.

  22. Morrie Wyatt

    Imagine the botnet!

    And when the inevitable security hole is found?

    Bingo, an embedded multi-billion node botnet

    The 'net will never stand the strain!

  23. Peter Nuding

    Somewhat contradictory

    So... if this embedded platform of theirs needs even remotely as much attention as this guy claims, who in their right mind would put it on any significant number of devices, let alone billions?

    Thanks for the warning anyway, I'll get my coat while SAP R/3 is installing on my coffee maker, that seemed just as reasonable...

  24. frank ly

    Taking Care Of Billions Of 'Em

    "Andonova was ready with examples. .......Sure, we can do that...........Sure, we can do that..........We'll take care of that."

    She obviously worked her way up through the ranks of marketing. Gives you confidence like no other.

  25. Joe Montana

    Half assed

    So basically what they're saying is "our so called embedded products are actually full blown windows installs and therefore offer none of the benefits that a real embedded system should"...

    Proper embedded systems are so stripped down that management of them is massively reduced if not virtually eliminated, that's the whole point of such systems.

  26. Brian Sherwood Jones

    Bunfight with Intel? Invitation to be sued?

    Hos is Intel's absorption of Wind River Systems going? Could be a nice bunfight? What changes has the Beast from Redmond made to its licence conditions? It used to be the case that they could prosecute you for attempting to use windoze for safety related applications.

  27. Martin Lyne


    >"Embedded systems?" you might say. "I manage servers, PCs, and laptops - I care not a whit for an OS that runs ATMs, fuel pumps, kiosks, in-car entertainment systems, and the like."

    Because these systems are maintained (ATMs, Kiosks) by imaginary people thus far? The fewer life-critical things that run windows the better, thanks. My HTC HD2 is perfect hardware, marred by Windows 6.5. If you want your in car entertainment to change volume at a whim, stop bleeping to warn about lo fuel randomly etc. etc. then, by all means, hit up the windows.

    Just waiting for that 'Droid ROM.

  28. Anonymous Coward

    Viruses on your consumer appliances, and no AV possible.

    At work, we've had things like logic analysers and other high value kit running on Windows (embedded or otherwise) for a while. IT don't quite seem to have caught on. Some of this stuff can be networked, pretty much all of it can read and write USB sticks (nominally for exchange of setup configs and acquired data and so on). None of the kit I've seen has anti-virus on it. Even if it did, it often doesn't connect to the outside world to get its AV updates. But it's still perfectly capable of being a virus transmission mechanism.

    Now extend this from the high-flying high-tech electronics world to the low-tech consumer appliance world, where every cent counts. There'll be no chance of installing/updating any AV (costs too much) but every chance that something small and nasty (e.g. Conficker) can still propagate.

    Fortunately for Joe Public, this isn't going to fly. Windows CE didn't set the consumer electronics world on fire (name one CE-powered consumer electronics box other than BT Vision and relatives and you win a prize). Windows 7 Embedded has all the same qualities. In the volume consumer electronics market, it's hard to beat "free" as in Linux (unless your hardware volumes are such that using a limited-function RTOS means you can save money by using less hardware per system, eg as Linksys have done with some of their boxes).

    Incidentally, XP isn't dead yet, and can't be dead for a while, because MS have publically committed to carry on supporting it for many more years for XP Embedded. The support lifecycles are listed somewhere on, can't find it right now, but MS wouldn't withdraw from a public commitment would they? So MS still have to pay people to do fixes for XP, it's jusy that MS choose not to offer that support to traditional Windows XP customers, because offering such support puts their mainstream upgrade-treadmill revenues at risk.

  29. Andrew Miller 1

    Of Course I worry about the operating system on ANY processor!

    If Microsoft now plans to replace the embedded OS on Factory Control systems, petrol pumps and anything where the computation can mechanically influence the real world with some flavour of windows, it is time to get very worried. As an engineer I would only want to replace a proprietary Embedded operating system of old (and there are many) with either a newer version of the old system (never change a running system) or go Open Source.

    Embedded Software is an area where Microsoft has always been weak. I think only Excel Sheet Executives would actually want to try such a system, as Windows Programmers are cheaper per unit time than VxWorks or Linux or whatever Programmers. Be Warned! You will loose more on the roundabouts of rollout of an unknown platform with more hours of bugfixing the Architecture than you will have saved on the swings of cheaper coders.

  30. Peter D'Hoye
    Thumb Down

    Starting to happen???

    MS is several years behind *again*.... Embedded devices have been around for quite some time now, and so have updates and security concerns for them.

  31. jake Silver badge

    Maybe I'm confuzled ...

    Could someone please explain exactly what Windows Embedded Standard 7 gives me that I haven't had with un*x for the last thirty years?

    Use single syllable words, I tend to automagically ignore marketing hype ...

  32. WonkoTheSane Silver badge

    ATMs with BSoD?

    I've seen plenty.

  33. Eddy Ito


    "Windows Embedded Standard 7, had graduated to RoTM status."

  34. Pirate Dave Silver badge


    it's best to become a bit BOFH-ish with users who try to bring embedded devices into the network. A quick trip down a flight of stairs and suddenly there's no reason to worry about connecting his network-capable insecure Windows7-running electric shaver to the network.

  35. Anonymous Coward

    embedded devices already pervasive

    on our network of > 25000 devices, over half of those arent PCs/laptops etc already.

    voip handsets, printers/MFDs, CCTV, building management systems (BMS), CCTV,

    smart meter systems, door/barrier controls , switches, APs etc outnumber the devices that users use...

    but with the current embedded systems that not bad.... however, we're f**ked if they are all

    compromisable windows OS 'effing devices.

  36. Anonymous Coward

    Security is so 20th Century

    Yipes! 10's of billions of embedded systems contacting MS weekly for their latest critical security updates. Do we have the bandwidth for that? Does the universe have that much bandwidth?

  37. Mage Silver badge

    Win7 embedded?

    ha hahah haha haha

    The last decent embedded from MS was NT4.0 embedded or maybe WinCe 2.x

    QNX (just bought by RIM), Linux, VXworks etc are the OS of choice. Even Microchip has working ethernet-WiFi-TCP/IP and USB stacks

    Yes, a lot of tills/POS and ATM got MS OS in past. Less likely in future.

    Anyone using Win7 proprietary bloatware or WinCE anymore on embedded need head examined.

    Let's see < 7% Smart Phone and less 1% of Phone use WinCE/WinMob.

    How many Setboxex compared to Windows Media Centres used with Living room TV (>99%)?

    How many setboxes run ANY version of any MS OS? I'd guess < 0.1%

    Yes, embedded systems outnumber PCs and Phones. A percentage are ARM. many are AVR, Microchip, 8051, ST20, 68HC11, MIPS etc. Hardly any are x86.

    Which CPUs does Windows 7 (aka servers & desktop, not the new Zune like GUI on on WinCE which is ARM only?) support?

    A lot less than NT 4,0 supported.

  38. Anonymous Coward

    You forgot to mention.

    And when your share of billions of internet-capable embedded devices start to communicate with your company's servers..... better have your cheque book ready to pay for all the CALs.

  39. Grumpy Fellow
    Gates Horns

    OK, if they support it

    My beef with Windows current embedded offering, Windows CE, is that support for the development environment is non-existent. To the best of my knowledge, there hasn't been a release of a manual for Platform Builder since 2002. When Platform Builder is working, it is great, but when it isn't, you are really screwed!

    1. Mage Silver badge

      Win CE

      Win CE is not Windows NT Embedded.

      Perhaps there will be Phone 7 version of Windows CE for Embedded. But the article seems to be talking about the NT family, not CE family,

      It's hard to see how this Windows 7 version of NT embedded will get traction in more than ATMs, Terminals and POS (Point of Sale Terminals/Tills/Cash registers), which already use Windows. These don't get updated, support for Win 3.1x only just finished for Embedded (POS mostly). Only new products get the new OS.

      Win CE --> ARM

      NT Embedded (AKA Win 7 embedded now) --> x86, x64

      There are also plenty other chip families used for embedded. Also neither Linux nor Windows NT are "Real Time Systems". Even Real Time Java/Solaris or Real Time Linux Kernel are fudges compared to "real" Real Time Systems.

      Only a small fraction of embedded systems need a RTOS.

      Also only a very tiny fraction of Embedded Applications are Terminals (like the Wyse), ATMs or POS. Maybe the POS for the petrol (gas in USA) pumps may use Windows, it's unlikely the actual pumps do.

      Windows CE (ARM) and Windows Embedded (NT4.0, XP, Win 7) won't run on many of these

      Anyway, back in 1993 the big selling points of NT (3.1 then) was

      * layered,

      * Componentised

      * true 32 bit OS with pre-emptive multi-tasking and protected kernel

      At one stage they supported MIPS, Alpha, 64bit Alpha on NT4.0, power PC, 386, 486, Pentium, and Pentium Pro. I think since NT 4.0 embedded (which is componentised) they have gone backwards. CE was always a sort of cut down simplified version of NT with very limited number of processes. Originally it too supported a few more CPU families than ARM.

      NT4.0 was less layered than NT3.51 as they moved the GDI into the Kernel to get a 10% or so improvement in Media playback/ Video/Animation. Direct X was a reversal also ot layering and HAL basically to encourage porting DOS game designs. It goes against all principles of clean API (have you seen how much docs it is?), HAL and clean OS design. Ditto the change with Vista and Win7 of how GUI is done to now make it use Direct X/Direct 3D essentially rather than the original layered HAL concept of design. So that Eye Candy runs faster.

      They need to throw away Windows and start again. The new Windows 7 phone seems to be just ditching the stupid Desktop GUI and bolting Zune GUI on the same underlying Windows CE, but I could be wrong.

      Apple did it going to OS X from OS 9, though their choice is hardly a new OS design, just new eye candy on basically a 1976 design.

  40. dr_forrester


    And how does that differ from the modular kernel that Linux uses? Old news there, in a shiny new package out of Redmond.

  41. Glen Turner 666

    Track record isn't that great...

    Meanwhile, back in the real work of embedded windows, a fault in an update of McAfee anti-virus scanner at Coles supermarkets in Australia caused millions of dollars of lost sales on 2010-04-10.

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      @Glen Turner 666

      I think you're doing McAfee an injustice there.

      I'm sure that they're shit enough to produce a catastrophic fuckup regardless of which O/S they ship the product on.

      Hint: If you buy a pair of tyres for your Ford from Kwik-fit and all the tread falls off them in 500 miles, do you blame Ford?

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Goat Jam

        Bad analogy alert

        Try this

        You buy a Ford which is widely know for it's flawed security and thefts are common and widespread. To alleviate this you buy an Acme Alarm(tm) in attempt to keep the thieves at bay.

        Unfortunately, the Acme alarm is also a piece of crap and eventually it fails spectacularly causing you to be locked out of your vehicle completely.

        Who is to blame;

        A) Ford, for making a vehicle with such poor security fundamentals.

        B) Acme, for making a low quality security product

        C) You, for buying a car with known security flaws

        D) all of the above.

  42. Pascal Monett Silver badge


    In MS-land, we learn that people have 10 PCs for every TV in the house.

    Now I don't know about you, but in my house there are 2 TVs and 2 PCs and I'm a gamer and something of a tech freak.

    In a normal household, there is the TV, period. In many households, there is probably a TV and a console, maybe 2 TVs and a console. In houses where the occupants are a bit more tech-savvy, there might be 2 TVs, a console or three, and a PC or two.

    But for the life of me, the only house where I can imagine that there are 10 times more PCs than TVs is the house of that madman with 40 WoW accounts.

    So, "PCs [...] in the hundreds of millions" and "TVs [...] in the tens of millions" strikes me as quite an unrealistic view of the household situation.

    Let us take an extreme example : Belgium. That country has a 99% TV penetration, which means that practically every single household has at least one TV.

    Who is going to say that every one of them also has a PC ? Not going to happen.

    But hey, this is MS-land, where anything good for MS can happen. Keep drinking the Kool-Aid, Mr. Dallas.

    1. jake Silver badge

      @Pascal Monett

      In this house, there are zero TVs, and about four dozen PCs (if you include the now aging iMacs, and my legacy DOS machines). About fifteen of them have been running for months, and the rest boot as needed.

      Only one runs Windows, and that's my over ten year old Win2K box that my wife spared (she wants to see how long the old girl can keep going, out of nostalgia ... the box is airgapped). Oh, and my Wife's laptop can boot into WinXP and a couple other odds & ends if needed, but she can't remember the last time she booted into anything but Slackware.

      We are not gamers.

  43. Anonymous Coward


    Does anyone remember those massively forwarded emails from 6 or 7 years ago which showed ATMs with the blue screen of death, screens in airports with the BSoD, ticket collection points with (you guessed it) the BSoD - in fact, there were screenshots of just about every system that could be computer controlled, all showing the BSoD.

    Will anything have changed? Probably not. Difficulty is that it might be harder to upgrade software when it comes on a chip...

  44. Daemon ZOGG

    ""Raises?" you may ask. Sorry, but Windows Embedded Standard 7 can only do so much."

    Raises? NOT! ..Must have been the cost of all of those additional micr0$oft software licenses. }:P ..Embedded systems? Linux does it better, faster, AND with a smaller footprint. ;)

  45. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Nutty as a fruit cake ...... Give them Cake and Cakes ... for a Dessert of Dreams*

    You may like to consider that embed facility for MetaDataBase Source Capture is considerably more Focussed and Developed for Virtual Application at the bit stage of Quantum Core Communicating Builds for Vital Virtual TeleTransPortation Source Code XSSXXXXChanges, and thus may the Operating System and Browser Engines for Placement and Search be Remotely Controlled at the Macro Micro Qubit Processor Level. Now that would be a Startingly SMART Discovery for Delivery and ZerodDay Trading to Real Naturally Smart Natives in LOVE with Peace and a Piece of Red Hot XXXX Action. For Top Shelf Bottom Drawer Traders and Business Analysts into Chaotic Rumblings and Ramblings in Great Game Holes/Periods of Desperate Doubtful Deliberation with Resultant Seriously Impaired Reasoning .

    Blighty on a Bender Playing a Blinder is a Noble Recursive Eventuality. :-)

    Thanks for the AIBeta Field Test Facility, El Regers.

    * Heavenly Sticky Sweet Creations

    1. jake Silver badge


      "Thanks for the AIBeta Field Test Facility, El Regers."


      My only question is, will there be an ElReg write-up on the project?

      Ink wiring winos wanna node ...

  46. Gert Selkobi

    So does that mean.....

    .....that in the future my washing machine will suffer the dreaded blue rinse of death and/or be susceptible to blocked overflow attacks?

    Got me coat...

  47. Spanners Silver badge

    Think back

    10/15/20 years ago, IT staff almost everywhere would have been saying something on the lines of "Please keep away from Windows networking!"

    I remember saying something like this in a job interview a dozen years ago. I did get the job but then all over the world, PHBs compelled us all to downgrade to Windows on everything. Linux and other things are helping to back us away from this but we have a long way to go.

    Windows has not become near-universal because of its superiority, reliability, price or anything else. It got to where it is by a fantastic marketing machine that convinces the ignorant that it is the only way. If we are not careful, we could start heading down this road again.

    1. simon barfield

      out of touch with reality

      heh.. quality.. like we can get 2 gig of ram on an embedded device.. look redmond.. we don't use os'es half the time we use state machines.. in the event of needing an rtos we usually write our own.. fancy that!

  48. RanTalbott

    It's deja vu all over again.

    sed "s/Windows CE/Windows 7/g" <ms_hype_1999.txt >ms_hype_2010.txt

  49. John Smith 19 Gold badge


    Call me Arkady.

    I am sending you message from somewhere in former Soviet Union to thank all those managers who made their developers switch to Windows Embedded. They told you it would be rubbish and compromised within a week of roll out but you did not believe them.

    I fell to knees and thanked God when I heard of this.

    Before I ran 5th biggest botnet on planet. Now I am number 1.

    My team of hackers could not have done it without you.

    BTW All your appliances belong to me.

  50. YumDogfood

    Sidelining the PC for control freakery and profit

    Using the internet via a PC is getting old for some people, and smartphones (to be followed by TVs) are the driver for this with the FaceBook App as a prime example. It might be a return to the days of the proprietary app - which may hold some appeal to the service providers (imagine no AdBlock).

    Imagine the internet as a distribution medium, but with companies having total control over the presentation. No wonder MS have seen the light and are moving in this direction. As far as truly embedded systems and SoCs, these are mostly ARM, MIPS for such stuff as Setop Boxes running a full OS (Linux mostly - its everywhere) and PIC, AVR for itty-bitty things running uCOS or nothing.

    Without a cross-platform (cross compile) solution (sorry about that word) MS are limited in their penetration, unlike Paris users of course.

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      IT is a Much Better and More Advanced than you have Realised or Imagined.*

      "Using the internet via a PC is getting old for some people, and smartphones (to be followed by TVs) are the driver for this with the FaceBook App as a prime example. It might be a return to the days of the proprietary app - which may hold some appeal to the service providers (imagine no AdBlock)." ...... YumDogfood Posted Tuesday 4th May 2010 00:01 GMT


      You have completely not touched upon a Present Actuality and the Running of the Internet via a PC or if you prefer, InterNetworking PCs Control of the Internet and with Powerful Intellectual Property Energy Supply to Drivers and Virtual Machinery in ITs Live Operational Virtual Environments too.

      * There are though a Few who have Realised IT and would Aspire to Conspire to Inspire with Desire All Satisfying Services ......... For the Absolute Advantage Afforded a Monopolising Singularity with Special Intelligence Supplies.

  51. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Announcing Windows Embedded (Medical Edition)

    AKA Windows for stiffs?

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