Thoughts about the “Windows Embedded” renaming

I am actually in the plane, flying back from Barcelona where we had a great TechEd EMEA: lots of sessions and some embedded developers eager to get deeper content on Windows Embedded. I spent a lot of time talking with Windows Embedded partners and with developers about technical content and about any feedback they would have around our technologies/message/tools/...
One feedback that came again and again is: “why did you rename the products? We are now even more confused than ever, and our customers are…”, so maybe clarifying this renaming could help.

Usually, marketing rebranding and renaming denotes a will to emphasize huge changes or new orientations of the technologies. Think about Windows PocketPC and Smartphone gathered into a single naming, Windows Mobile (Professional and Standard versions): while PPC and Smartphone were really different in terms of UI, and in terms of SDK/APIs (you could hardly get an application to run on both versions), efforts have been made and are continuing to blur these differences, heading to a common set of APIs and a similar user experience whether you have a touch screen device (Professional), or a non touch screen device (Standard). So in this specific example, renaming of the products goes along with a technology evolution which is a merge of 2 different products or versions of a product.

For what concerns Windows Embedded, here are the naming evolutions for the general Embedded products (not talking about the vertical solutions for POS and Navigation):

  • Windows XP Embedded becomes Windows Embedded Standard
  • Windows CE will become Windows Embedded Compact for the next release

But this renaming is definitively NOT about merging Windows CE and XP Embedded technologies. Windows Embedded Compact (a.k.a. CE ;-)) will remain a modular low foot print real time embedded operating system based on an architecture running on a variety of CPUs, while Windows Embedded Standard will continue to be based on the Desktop version of Windows (actually Windows XP Pro, and in the future Windows 7). Applications running on Windows Embedded Compact will not be binary compatible with Windows Embedded Standard and reciprocally. The 2 operating systems address different types of problems and are (and will remain) complementary.

To conclude about this renaming thing, do not be confused: Windows CE will NOT die! And neither will a modular version of the desktop OS (today based on XP and tomorrow based on Windows 7).