Windows Embedded Standard and Windows Embedded Industry are special versions for Windows desktop used for embedded / IoT system. These embedded / IoT editions include special lock down features that are not part of Windows desktop. These features protect the OS from sudden power cycles as well as create a custom look and feel. Windows Embedded Standard allows developers to create custom Windows operating system by including only those features necessary to run the application. Component selection allows for smaller image size were storage space is limited. The Windows Embedded versions are more than just pick a few components and installing the operating system. It takes a system engineering approach to create an image for the full life cycle of the product. This page was created to help those developing with WES and WEI operating systems.

The information below serves as some history and resource portal for Windows Embedded Standard / Industry. Many of the links below will take you away from the TechNet site.

Click the Edit button above to add links to resources related to Windows Embedded Standard / Industry.

History and Current Products

Some may think that Windows CE (Launched in 1996 later renamed Windows Embedded Compact) was the first offering, but it wasn’t. A little historical background is provided for context. Microsoft has brought many of the desktop operating system to the embedded market. The desktop operating systems have been integrated into many devices such as thin clients, industrial controls, test equipment, medical systems, digital displays, and much more. Building embedded systems with an off-the-shelf PC, using a well-known operating system, and developing applications with familiar tools like Visual Studio offers a lower cost approach to embedded development. The appeal of using the desktop operating system is that you can develop the application on the desktop before investing in the embedded version. Microsoft has been involved in embedded systems (now IoT) since the late 1980s where MS-DOS, the Windows 3.x releases and Windows 95 were the main operating system offerings before Windows CE launch:

  • MS-DOS 5.0
  • MS-DOS 5.0 ROM Version
  • MS-DOS 6.22 (also includes Windows 3.11 and Windows for Workgroups)
  • Windows 95

With the early success of Windows CE and popularity of the current desktop operating systems, Microsoft made an investment to bring Windows NT 4.0 to the embedded market with the first embedded release:

  • Windows NT Embedded 4.0 (Supported Workstation and Server) – Contained tools to customize the operating system by picking and choosing different components. You could also create your own components to be included. The first lock-down features were introduced such as the Write Filter and headless support.

Windows XP came next and proved to be a popular desktop operating system, which spawned two different embedded OS offerings:

  • Windows XP Embedded (later called Windows Embedded Standard 2009) had several service packs and updates over 9 years. Similar to NT Embedded, XP Embedded came with tools to build customized operating system for selecting different components. You could also create your own components to be included. The lock-down features were improved and expanded over several releases.
  • Windows Embedded for Point of Service (WEPOS) (later called Windows Embedded POSReady 2009). A special version of Windows XP that targeted Point of Service systems. WEPOS / POSReady installed like Windows XP with options to select major OS features. The lock-down features from XP Embedded were also included. POS for .NET was released at the same time. POS for .NET is a .NET implementation of the UnifiedPOS specification, which allows developers to write .NET application to interact with POS devices.

The effort to re-architect Windows to create Windows 7 forced a new approach for the embedded releases. Continuing the two embedded offering approach, there were two products based on Windows 7:

  • Windows Embedded Standard 7 (supports 32 and 64bit). WES7’s tools were a custom implementation of the Windows 7 desktop deployment tools, which was a clean departure from the NT Embedded and XP Embedded. Bigger pieces of the operating system features were available for selection. Distribution shares were used in place of components. Some of the lock-down features from Windows XP were carried forward with modifications.
  • Windows Embedded POSReady 7 (supports 32 and 64bit). Like the predecessor release, POSReady 7 could be installed like Windows 7, and it included the lock down features found in WES7. The main Windows Server and Desktop deployment tool, Windows System Image Manager, could be used to create a custom installer for POSReady 7. POS for .NET 1.12 was released.span>

Windows 8 desktop quickly became Windows 8.1, but an embedded version of Windows 8 was released:

  • Windows Embedded 8 Standard (supports 32 and 64bit) – Used the same development tools as WES7, and added the ability to create custom packages. The Unified Write Filter was introduced to replace the older lock-down features that migrated all the way from NT Embedded.

With Windows 8.1, the component approach used since NT Embedded has been dropped to align with the desktop and server deployment tools. POSReady has been dropped so there is a single embedded / IoT product based on Windows 8.1:

  • Windows Embedded 8.1 Industry (supports 32 and 64bit). Windows System Image Manger from the Assessment and Deployment Kit (ADK) is used to create custom configuration set to automate the installation of WE8.1I. POS for .NET 1.14 was released.

Information on these later operating systems is available on the Windows Embedded site.

Lockdown Features

WES and WEI come with lockdown features that are not available in Windows desktop editions. Below are the link to the latest lockdown features in Windows Embedded 8.1 Industry.

Windows Embedded Trials, Tools, and SDKs


Windows Embedded Forums

Windows Embedded Blogs