After the release of Windows CE, Microsoft quickly discovered that many embedded developers were building a wide range of non-PC devices that were neither small nor resource constrained and could benefit from a PC-based architecture, an enhanced set of features, richer functionality and greater scalability than what Windows CE could provide at the time. In 1999, to compliment its embedded products, Microsoft delivered Windows NT Embedded to the market, thereby providing embedded developers with greater choice and flexibility as well as access to the rich Windows feature set. For example, customers used Windows NT Embedded to build manufacturing, telecommunications, and multimedia devices.
In 2001, Microsoft released Windows XP Embedded, the successor to Windows NT Embedded, which provides a wealth of new features created for the mainstream operating system, and is available for the embedded marketplace in componentized form. Between Windows CE and Windows XP Embedded, Windows Embedded operating systems are now servicing a wide variety of embedded devices—ranging from small, handheld PIM devices to large industrial automation machines—all with highly customized device designs, requiring a flexible platform, easy-to-use development tools, and access to the latest networking, communications, and multimedia technologies.
In developing Windows XP Embedded, the embedded development team focused on three key areas: the first was componentizing the latest Windows technologies so that embedded developers could have easy access to the richest feature set possible; the second was incorporating the latest embedded-enabling capabilities into Windows XP Embedded; and the third was delivering a powerful new set of end-to-end development tools to enable a more efficient and streamlined development process.
By componentizing Windows XP Professional, Windows XP Embedded enables developers to utilize the latest technologies that the Windows platform has to offer while at the same time achieving a reduced footprint. Building upon a proven code base and offering over 10,000 operating system feature and service components, Windows XP Embedded offers a broad range of new and enhanced capabilities. The benefits of these features include industry-leading reliability, security, and performance. Additionally, Windows XP Embedded includes the latest multimedia and Web browsing capabilties.
Windows XP Embedded also includes embedded-specific functionality that enables developers to easily address the unique requirements of the embedded marketplace. Embedded devices demand flexibility with regard to the hardware components that are used, the level of functionality the device offers and the usage scenarios that are enabled. Window XP Embedded incorporates the latest embedded-enabling capabilities such as headless support, support for Enhanced Write Filter and El Torito CD, the Power Management Control Library, along with flexible boot and storage options.