Windows Embedded v.Next Developer Preview Coming in January

A lot of attention has been focused on Windows 8 and even the upcoming revision of Windows Phone, but these aren’t the only operating systems that Redmond is cooking up.

In early 2012 we are expecting Windows 8 Beta for testing but early adopters will also have the privilege around this same time to give the next major version of Windows Embedded Standard a try as well.

Known as “Windows Embedded Standard v.Next”, the newest version of the embedded OS seems heavily tied to the development of Windows 8 and will of course support both x86 and ARM processors out of the box.

This time around embedded will get a very similar “Developer Preview” that we saw with Windows 8, and will give companies a chance to see all that the newest version of the OS has to offer.

According to Microsoft, all the power, familiarity and reliability of Windows will be present in this upcoming version and of course it will be highly customizable and in a componentized form for a variety of adaptive uses.

All specific changes to the new version have yet to be announced, Microsoft has stated that it will include optimized natural user interface technologies such as touch or speech-driven commands. Windows Embedded often finds itself competing with Linux/Unix derivatives for use in specialized devices such as kiosks, construction equipment, and even medical devices.

This time around Microsoft claims to have plans to expand the scope and scale of how Windows Embedded is utilized to bring it beyond specialized commercial uses and into everyday objects such as refrigerators, thermometers, and perhaps even devices like televisions.

Processors that can utilize embedded technology have become more powerful, cheaper, and smaller in the last several years and improvements in connectivity (such as always-on Internet connections) are driving the potential for “intelligent systems”.

The idea behind intelligent systems involves taking everyday objects and equipping them with smart technologies that communicate and work together. Imagine a future kitchen that have appliances that track how much you food is in the pantry and refrigerator, how much you’ve cooked, and then tallies it up and sends you a text message when you are low on something like milk.

This type of potential is a bit far-off but certainly possible someday as intelligent systems evolve. A more practical and possible potential use could be in medical equipment. Imagine medical equipment in a hospital that automatically writes to a patient’s medical chart when a temperature is taken or blood pressure is read.

Of course in the beta, don’t expect super-kitchens and hospitals but instead expect a great opportunity to try Windows Embedded on your kiosk and other similar equipment to see how the technology has evolved. In time perhaps, some of Microsoft’s grander plans with the OS will come to pass as well.

Windows Embedded’s official launch date is expected to happen sometime in 2013, a short time after the release of Windows 8 to the commercial market. Does Microsoft’s newest Embedded OS have strong potential for future evolution in the Intelligent Systems market or will it simply be relegated to a great piece of software for running your favorite store’s cash register?

Microsoft seems to really be taking the “Windows Everywhere” approach to new levels and it almost reminds me a little of movies like Big Brother, but for now I remain optimistic and intrigued by the company’s current strategy.

Only time will tell if these recent changes will help Microsoft evolve and stay relevant in a world that is quickly moving to new technologies like the cloud. What do you think of Microsoft’s newest version of its Embedded OS and its overall recent announcements regarding its Windows brand? Share your thoughts below!

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