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Thursday, August 15, 2013

Beyond Windows XP Part 1 – Windows 7/8 for Embedded Systems

As we covered in our previous post “Windows XP – Prevalent and Problematic” users of Industrial PCs have some decisions to make due to the End of Life announcements for Windows XP.

There are two valid paths for an Industrial PC user beyond Windows XP and both would require testing and validation to make sure they are going to work with no additional headaches. In this post we will explore the option to switch to Windows 7 or Windows 8 for Embedded Systems.

Windows 7/8 for Embedded Systems is a great choice when hard disk space is not an issue and when you want to be assured the widest compatibility with third party hardware and software.  One of the Windows Embedded platforms (either Windows Embedded Standard 2009 or Windows Embedded Standard 7) are a great choice when your system will effectively have all hardware and software predetermined and will not have any changes made to this configuration. Windows Embedded packages are built, adding needed components to support a specific application and therefore result in a small Operating System footprint and a more stable distribution. Microsoft naming conventions for their Embedded Operating Systems can be a little tricky, but know that “Windows for Embedded Systems” is different than “Windows Embedded”.

To ensure the most compatibility with hardware and software and when hard drive space is not an issue, installing Windows 7 (or Windows 8) for Embedded Systems may be your best choice. Granted, from both of these, Windows 8 is really too new to be considered for an Industrial PC application. Windows 8 was released in the first quarter of 2013 and has been met with a lukewarm reception in the desktop community. The operating system seems to be more geared to multi-touch tablet usage. However, with multi-touch touchscreens gaining some ground in the industrial space, it should be considered if multi-touch has merit for your application. This leaves Windows 7 as the best choice for users that need to run their applications in a Windows environment. Windows 7 was released on October 22, 2009. It is currently scheduled to have its extended support end date on 1/14/2020. Windows 7 has good support for legacy Windows XP applications and manufacturers of current plug-in bus cards generally offer drivers for Windows 7.

To learn about the second option, read our post “Beyond Windows XP Part 2 – Windows Embedded”.

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