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UPDATE: Microsoft Realigning Its Windows Embedded Business

Microsoft announced today that it plans to realign its Windows Embedded Business group to better connect with the company's management and security product lines.

Windows Embedded Business will move closer to the Management and Security Division of the Microsoft Server and Tools Business. Kevin Dallas, general manager of Microsoft's Windows Embedded Business will make the announcement on Tuesday during his keynote speech at the Embedded Systems Conference in Boston.

The realignment is designed to better help out Microsoft's original equipment manufacturer partners, according to the company's announcement. Microsoft has also been tapping the experiences of organizations using System Center with Windows Embedded devices. In August, the company rolled out a Technology Adoption Program to elicit user feedback.

Dallas will also discuss a collaboration effort with the Microsoft System Center team to create an "intelligent device management" (IDM) solution. The IDM solution, which is expected to be available sometime next year, is designed to support the management needs of enterprises using Microsoft products for specialized devices. For instance, the IDM solution potentially could better enable remote maintenance of devices, thereby reducing technician costs for organizations.

Microsoft will also move its Hohm application, which helps consumers track power consumption, into its Windows Embedded Business, the company announced today.

In other Windows Embedded news, Microsoft explained on Friday that it has turned off the delivery of developer updates to Windows Embedded Standard 7 operating systems through its Microsoft Update service. The updates were turned off due to an issue discovered earlier in the week, although Microsoft did not explain what problems were encountered. The company is currently investigating whether the problem is associated with the Windows Update service or something else. The issue only affects users of the Windows Embedded Developer Update service via Microsoft Update. Microsoft clarified on Tuesday that these developer updates are available from other services.

"However the updates are still available through our other regular channels, e.g. ECE and MOO," an updated blog explained. "The updates being turned off are for developers only. They are the so called 'Developer Updates.' Updates to devices that are built on Windows Embedded Standard 7, aka 'Device Updates,' are not affected as Windows Updates are available as usual."

Microsoft also announced on Friday that it has released the "Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 Service Pack 1 for Windows XP Embedded Service Pack 3" for partners through its embedded communications extranet (a Web portal restricted to partner access). This framework update is important because Microsoft changed its policy in March to align the lifecycle of .NET Framework releases with Windows releases.

Because of that policy change, support for .NET Framework 3.0 and .NET Framework 3.5 will end on April 12, 2011. Microsoft recommends an upgrade to .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 before that date.

Microsoft is gearing up for a more connected-device world, both in the enterprise space and consumer world. Some of the Microsoft products being pegged for integration with Windows Embedded as part of this vision include Microsoft System Center, Microsoft Forefront Endpoint Protection and Internet cloud-based services such as Windows Intune, according to Microsoft's announcement.

Last week, the new Senior Director of the Windows Embedded Marketing Group, Barb Edson, demonstrated prototypes of set-top boxes running Windows Embedded Standard 7. She took the stage with Douglas L. Davis, Intel's vice president and general manager of the Embedded and Communications Group at Intel's Developer Forum. The set-top box prototypes delivered Windows Media Center directly to the TV. Microsoft expects to see these set-top products on the market sometime next year.

Microsoft also foresees a world of machine-to-machine connected devices, as outlined by Mike Hall, a principal software architect for the Windows Embedded Business at Microsoft. Hall gave a talk last week at the Future World Symposium in London suggesting that the laborious business of developing for devices will change with the 4G mobile bandwidth expansion and greater processing power enabled by multicore processors.

Hall's presentation included a slide suggesting that "the number of 'connection capable' devices will soon outnumber the number of humans." 

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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