What Does Windows Embedded Mean?, Part 2

Dennis Faas's picture

Recall --

Yesterday, Infopackets Reader Darren F. asked what term 'Windows Embedded' meant:

" Dear Dennis,

I was watching Tech TV recently, and there was reference made to a program that is capable of making a 'preinstalled environment' bootable Windows XP CD-ROM. I decided to do some research on the topic, and kept coming across discussion boards where people constantly made reference to something called 'Windows Embedded'. I don't quite understand what this is and was wondering if you could explain it the term? "

I responded to Darren's question by querying Google for the term "Windows Embedded". I stumbled across the Microsoft Development web site which explained the term, and then applied it to what I believed to be the correct scenario.

Unfortunately, I wasn't entirely correct in my definition. Thankfully, I received the following emails from Readers Alex B. and Rick K. who clearly defined the term "Windows Embedded".

Infopackets Reader Alex B. writes:

" Dennis, I just read your article on defining the term 'Windows Embedded'. As far as I understand it, an embedded system is a computer that 'lives' inside a device and acts as a component of that device.

For example, automobiles today have an embedded computer under the hood that helps regulate much of their day to day operation. Another example of an embedded system may also include 'control panels' on say, fancy alarm systems, in-house company telephone systems, and the like. So, in this sense, Windows Embedded is a version of Windows which developers use to install on a device -- usually *not* a 'normal' computer.

That's how I understand it, anyway. (PS: Keep up the great work!)."

And, Infopackets Reader Rick K. writes:

" Embedded Windows requires a special license. For example, if you are creating thousands of copies of a special version of Windows -- specifically useful for hand-held computers manufacturers or special devices.

It is important to note that Windows Embedded is not a full Windows install with all the printer drivers, monitor drivers, etc. -- it is called embedded because the original design was to put be fit on ROM chips in the device (hence, the term 'embedding' it). However, Windows is *so* big that it would not fit on a ROM chip, and so they had to provide CD capability. In fact, the license for a Windows Embedded device states that the device must boot only from CD, and the custom applications must also be placed on the same disc. Windows CE is the common embedded format, however, for government (i.e. Military) applications, they had to have NT embeddable, and later XP. "

Excellent! Thanks for writing in.

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