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Microsoft starts to roll out Windows 8 in embedded flavors

Full and cut-down Windows for dumber devices

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Microsoft has announced the general availability of two flavors of Windows 8 for embedded systems; the Standard and Pro editions.

"Edge devices connected and working in unison with an enterprise's broader IT infrastructure unleash the potential of the Internet of Things by yielding the actionable data and operational intelligence that drive businesses forward," said Kevin Dallas, general manager of Windows Embedded, in a statement.

"Windows Embedded 8 coupled with the full breadth of Microsoft technologies for intelligent systems helps enterprises gain lasting competitive advantages in retail, manufacturing, healthcare and a variety of industries."

The Pro edition is basically a full version of Windows 8 with some extra software tweaks to suit various embedded device manufacturers, while the Standard edition allows vendors to strip out the parts of Windows 8 they don’t need. In both cases some attributes of the Windows 8 not-Metro interface can be partially stripped out.

By the beginning of April, Microsoft will also release a Windows Industry edition, which is specifically designed for point of sale devices and other specialized hardware. Redmond will make additional licensing options available for enterprise customers in July.

Microsoft's making a Windows 8 play for the embedded market based around that much over-hyped expression "the internet of things." Its sales pitch is that Windows 8 can communicate with SQL Server and Azure to collect lots of lovely data from devices, and developers can then use Visual Studio to build apps that make sense of it all.

Whether or not the market will bite remains to be seen. While everyone wants more data there's a limit on how smart you need a coffee machine to be. ®

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