Microsoft has made a move to enter the vast $1.4 trillion market for intelligent devices with the introduction today of Windows 8 Embedded.

This new flavor of the OS will come in several forms tailored to different types of intelligent devices, including point-of-sale (POS) systems, medical devices, handheld equipment, in-car systems, and industrial sensors, among others.

Embedded OSs support specialized devices and are designed to be compact, efficient at resource usage, and reliable, forsaking many functions that general-purpose OSs provide and that are not needed for specialized applications.

While Windows Phone 8 is also technically an embedded OS, the Windows Embedded 8 family of device-controlling OSs include Windows Embedded 8 Standard, Windows Embedded 8 Pro and Windows Embedded 8 Industry.

Each has a distinct feature set that includes the building blocks for an intelligent system across hardware, software and services.

In other words, they possess the ability to manage devices and identities, recognize the presence of connected devices, provide rich, touch-enabled experiences, manage device security, and analyze data.

The market for embedded devices, from refrigerators to automobiles is a big target for Microsoft and the release of the new OS flavor is a major play that would see Microsoft transition from a software company to a “devices and services” company.

Windows Embedded General Manager Kevin Dallas said during the launch;

“Faced with the explosion of business data, enterprises are looking for better alternatives to help them unlock the information inside. Microsoft’s broad set of technologies and products make it uniquely qualified to help address this problem. We’re working with our partners to create solutions that extend across the full breadth of Microsoft technologies and provide customers with the clarity they need to harness big data.”

In parallel, Microsoft will release Windows Embedded Compact 2013, another version that will support small footprint devices that require flexible hardware, the use of touch- and gesture-based inputs and hard, real-time support.

This large market is doubly attractive for Microsoft due to the lack of clear leaders in the field, which includes Linux, iOS, Minix, Tiny OS and many others. Market leadership in this market would be a source of significant revenues for Redmond.

Read more about Microsoft’s road map for Windows 8 Embedded here.

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