Microsoft has previewed Windows8 embedded. This is the third Windows8 OS presented by Microsoft; the other two are Windows8 and Windows8 server. This product is different because it is used for small computational and sensor-based electronic components that collect data and automate simple actions. Embedded computing involves placing computer processors within common objects in order to collect data, guide operations and offer user interactivity. This technology is the Internet of Things.
Where are embedded systems used?
They are found in many consumer and industrial applications such as vending machines, refrigerators, digital music players, automobiles, and routine assembly line tasks. All of this is possible because as the cost and power requirements of microprocessors continue to drop, the use of sophisticated micro controllers becomes more feasible for a wider variety of tasks. And the micro controllers will need an operating system to run the hardware. That is where Windows8 embedded comes in.
Microsoft has focused its efforts on refining Windows Embedded for a subset of this market called intelligent systems, which combine processing power with networking and cloud computing to bring more computational prowess to devices.
The Internet of Things
This idea of cheap and plentiful network-connected embedded devices has been called the “Internet of Things.” What this means is that the system does on-line detection of off-line objects and their physical properties. Although it has been predicted for many years, such an Internet of Things may actually take hold now in part due to cloud computing services like Microsoft Azure.
So for instance, owners of vending machines, could benefit by embedding the machines with processors and connecting them to a network. A small system embedded inside a machine can keep a tally of which consumer snacks or other items are being sold, for example. With Windows8, the system would be able to provide other information that could keep an up to date inventory, increase sales. and get a running tally of all the snacks being sold across all the machines.