back to article Microsoft moving embedded systems to Windows 8

Microsoft has outlined its strategy to bring Windows to the world of embedded systems, ranging from ATMs to the humblest embedded sensors. Within three months of launching the mainstream versions of Windows 8 client and server, Redmond promises a version of the OS for smart embedded devices, dubbed Windows Embedded Enterprise …


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  1. Error Message Silver badge

    Death by General Protection Fault

    Yup! Once Windows is in embedded systems, like medical life support systems in hospital equipment, we'll see things on death certificates for "Cause of Death" like "death by General Protection Fault", "death by Windows Protection Error", etc.

    1. James O'Brien

      You forgot one....

      Death by 0x8000666

    2. N2


      You may be a victim of software counterfeiting. This copy of Windows did not pass genuine Windows...

    3. The BigYin

      What you do not want...

      ...when you are in the operating room, lying on that bed, lines and needles going into your to look around and notice that the machine which will help hold your life in the balance for the next few hours is running Windows!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I dunno

        I see a new amusement for hospitalised nerds - hacking linux into the breathing machine

  2. jake Silver badge

    Methinks Microsoft is completely clueless about ...

    ... the actual meaning of "embedded systems".

    Which suits me just fine :-)

  3. James O'Brien
    Paris Hilton

    Fuzzy logic here

    "This will also be based on Windows 8, but will be customizable so that unnecessary parts of the code base can be removed if they are not needed, allowing the software footprint to be reduced by up to 30 per cent."

    Even when you ruduce Windows footprint by 30% isnt that still somewhere north of around 20Gb or so for the install? Which leaves MANY avenues open for hackers to exploit and so on.....

    Not to mention what parts could they remove? About the only two that I can think of to make Windows secure enough for a financial environment is to remove Networking, any sort of interface support (keyboard, mouse, touch screen etc.), Windows Explorer, Internet Explorer, Notepad, anything to deal with device drivers, the kernel, you see where this is going. And something along the lines of not using it at all on equipment which deals with sensitive information.

    So I guess the moral of the story is...well hell I dont know, unless they implement game support for it. Would be tits to withdraw some cash and frag a few people on BF3 while doing so.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      There is quite a difference between the codebase and the associated media files and applications bundled with the core os.

  4. kain preacher

    @Error Message

    Show me a single piece of critical life support equipment that has an off the shelf OS, otherwise your statement is silly .

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Error Message

    literally - Blue Screen of Death

  6. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why a GUI?

    Some smaller systems already run a Microsoft OS, why not be happy with that? Only because its called MS DOS instead of MS Windows?

    And before you read this sentence and think I lost my mind... DOS is behind us now, right? Then amazingly enough for you I can even utilize USB on top of DOS, or what to think about accessing TCP/IP based networking ?

    Yes; I happily agree that utilizing Linux in this field can make a lot of things much easier. But that is the power of a legacy for you. When it comes to certain small devices I still cope with DOS on a regular basis.

    And I'll take a full fledged DOS environment over a trimmed down Windows ("Oops, we forgot to include $command, but who needs it anyway?") any day of the week.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Keep up! Since 2003 you've been able to install Windows server without a GUI, it's going to be pretty much essential to run it gui-less in the next release.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Kain Preacher

    I'm neither recommending it or not, nor do I have any association with them. But (unlike yourself?) I know that it exists.

    Outside the medical world, off the shelf OS software is controlling things like passenger aircraft engines, and various other stuff listed at

    Other allegedly certifiable safety-critical embedded OSes are available. E.g. did you know Intel own one? (Wind River Systems' VxWorks product).

  9. Jess

    Are Microsoft really trying to make all those films ...

    ... where hackers take control of all sorts of devices, a technical reality?

    Full system?

    3 months?

    Just the core maybe, (because lets face it, it must be pretty good, to work at all with all the crap they bog it down with.)

  10. TiddlyPom

    Windows has very limited embedded systems penetration

    Microsoft is not 'moving everybody over to Windows 8' - in their dreams! They have particular markets where Windows (XP) IS in embedded systems. Scarily SCADA ( ) control applications (like electricity systems, water system or gas control systems) tend to be Windows CONTROLLED (although the actual actuator systems are RTOS ( ) or embedded Linux (e.g. ). EPOS systems (like tills) tend to be Windows XP as well. Most other embedded systems are RTOS or Linux - for instance nearly all set top boxes are Linux. What they mean is that they are PLANNING to migrate the Windows XP Embedded (or Windows 200x Embedded) systems over to Windows 8 (which is probably a good idea in some ways as Windows XP is a dead product).

  11. MS Rocks

    I believe....

    That the British armies artillery has been aimed/targeted using Windows CE for the last 10 or so years. Not heard about too many misses. Horses for courses and all that….

  12. Tom Wood


    I can understand that maybe you might choose Windows for an embedded system that is primarily a GUI (ATM, supermarket checkout, ticket vending kiosk etc) - lots of these things run Windows XP currently.

    But why on earth would you choose any Windows derivative for a proper embedded device, rather than say a Linux/Busybox system? The latter is open source, royalty-free and can be squeezed into a few megabytes of flash...

  13. DJV Silver badge

    "aimed at slightly dumber devices"

    Dumber devices? Ah, they must be talking about Ballmer...

  14. dunstan

    Windows CE vs Windows Embedded Standard

    Agree that Windows Embedded Standard (WES) is for heavyweight, sub-PC type systems like kiosks;WES isn't really for much of the Embedded market. Embedded applications typically require low power, reliability and speed - in the Microsoft-based embedded market, I see WinCE dominating nearly all applications such as industrial control, medical applications, non-residential smart metering. BTW, In my experience (I'm an embedded systems specialist), CE would not be appropriate for a straight temperature sensor - it would have to be a very fancy sensor to warrant an embedded OS!). Why CE not Linux ? We use both and certainly Linux is dominant in things such as routers and video systems, but CE is usually signficantly quicker to get going, has better enterprise support, none of the licensing issues with video CODECs etc, and has a better development environment.

    There seems to be a lot of confusion over the fact that there is ARM support for Windows 8. This does not mean that any time soon it will be running on small ARM systems, as the memory and CPU requirements are too heavy - it is only going to run on a few specific high-end ARM cores, much as Windows currently only runs on a specific X86 configuration. For the low power/low cost end of things, this is going to remain dominated by CE and Linux, where an OS is used.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Windows XP is a dead product"

    Is it? Not in what MS calls the embedded market, it isn't.

    The end of support for Windows XP SP2 (embedded variant) was earlier this year.

    As far as I can tell, no end of service life has yet been announced for XP SP3 (embedded variant), unless you can translate

    "Support ends 24 months after the next service pack releases or at the end of the product's support lifecycle, whichever comes first. For more information, please see the service pack policy at ."

    into an End of Service Life date.


    Not suggesting anybody actually design around, or use, XP Embedded, just pointing out that whatever Mainstream MS and their dependents may want you to believe, XP lives on, and on, and on...

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