Microsoft today announced the availability of Windows Embedded NavReady 2009, which is a variant of Windows Embedded "designed specifically for OEMs building handheld portable navigation devices (PNDs)" more popularly known as GPS devices.
Windows Embedded NavReady 2009 delivers innovative technologies to help developers and OEMs quickly bring to market smart, connected, service-oriented PNDs that easily connect to online services, mobile phones using Bluetooth, Windows-based PCs and the Internet. Based on Windows Embedded CE, Windows Embedded NavReady 2009 builds upon a decade of experience and success that the Windows Embedded Business has achieved by helping developers and OEMs simplify the development, user experience and maintenance of their PND designs.
Frankly, this is a bit of a head scratcher, since the big 3 of standalone GPS devices (Garmin, TomTom, and MiTAC) have managed to saturate the market without any help from Microsoft and are now mostly worried about competition from GPS functionality added to other devices like cellphones, a notable example of which was Apple’s iPhone 3G which was announced last week. Notably, the only OEM mentioned in the announcement as a prospective customer for Windows Embedded NavReady 2009 is Mio Technology (a subsidiary of MiTAC who also has the NavMan brand) which apparently thinks there’s a pony in the connectivity options.
Microsoft today revealed the new branding for its embedded operating system efforts:
Today at Embedded Systems Conference Silicon Valley 2008 in San Jose, Microsoft Corp. laid out the next phase in its strategy for the Windows Embedded Business, providing a strategic road map outlining the renaming of its family of products and plans for new solutions in key device categories. The new key device category solutions will be offered under the Windows Embedded Ready name and will ship as preconfigured toolkits providing device-makers with in-demand market-specific features that allow them to build and ship next-generation smart, connected, service-oriented devices in an accelerated fashion.
The first product release under the new naming strategy will be Windows Embedded Standard, the next generation of Windows XP Embedded, and will be launched simultaneously at Tech•Ed North America and through a global webcast event on June 3. All presently available Windows Embedded products will be marketed under their current names until their next scheduled product release and will remain available for purchase in line with the standard Microsoft Support Lifecycle policy. The Windows Embedded Ready product line for key device categories will include the next generation of Windows Embedded for Point of Service, Windows Embedded POSReady. The Windows Embedded Business plans to further detail its strategy for the Windows Embedded Ready products later this calendar year.
The Windows Embedded family of products includes the following:
• Windows Embedded Standard. The next generation of Windows XP Embedded. The next product release is currently forecast for 2008.
• Windows Embedded Compact. The next generation of Windows Embedded CE. The next product release is currently forecast for 2009.
• Windows Embedded Enterprise. A fully application-compatible embedded operating system that over time will gain a broader set of embedded enabling features. Today this product group is composed of Windows Vista and Windows XP for Embedded Systems and is licensed exclusively for embedded device development.
• Windows Embedded POSReady. The next generation of Windows Embedded for Point of Service. The next product release is currently forecast for 2009.
In case you are having trouble keeping up with the taxonomy, Windows Embedded CE is just the new name for Windows CE since version 6 was released. Windows Embedded CE in turn forms the basis for Windows Mobile. It is also interesting to see that embedded XP isn’t leaving any time soon, presumably because embedding Vista takes a lot of horsepower.
Microsoft is holding a Virtual Launch Event tomorrow for Windows Embedded CE 6.0 R2 which adds a variety of useful minor enhancements including new VOIP support to CE 6.0 which launched slightly more than a year ago. If this seems a little dry, recall that Windows Embedded CE is the foundation upon which Microsoft’s Windows Mobile phone operating system is built, and CE 6 will be the basis for the next release of Windows Mobile codenamed Photon.
In other Windows Mobile news, Microsoft spinoff ZenZui (soon to be renamed Zumobi) announced an open beta of their mobile phone Web browsing service/interface for Windows Mobile phones.
Update: The official announcement press release says Microsoft is increasing their spending on Windows Embedded by 33% this year to US $75 million.
Microsoft today launched Robotics Studio 1.5 adding support for Windows Embedded CE 6.0 and Windows Mobile 6, “which allows developers to more easily deploy advanced scenarios and software applications on embedded platforms of a wider variety and lower cost.” Among other enhancements were:
… improvements to its visual programming language and 3-D real-world-physics-based visual simulation environment, built on the AGEIA Technologies Inc.-based PhysX engine. New services have also been added, including support for vision and speech recognition, expanded documentation and a new editor that makes it easier to configure and target software services for robotics platforms.
Robotics Studio 1.5 is free and available for download here. A variety of marketing programs were announced as well.