Windows Embedded 8 Handheld joins the Windows Embedded 8 family

Posted By Barb Edson
General Manager, Marketing and Business Development

This week in New York, we’re rolling out the newest member of our Windows Embedded family, and it’s a complete re-imagining of what an enterprise mobile device should be. D’Arcy Salzmann, senior product manager for Windows Embedded 8 Handheld, has details.

At the end of 2011, Kevin Dallas, general manager of Windows Embedded, shared with our customers and partners that the next generation of Windows Embedded Handheld would be based on Windows 8 technology. This past October, we provided more details when we published our updated Windows Embedded road map, noting that the new platform is built on Windows Phone 8 and would be called Windows Embedded 8 Handheld, and we promised that more details would be available in January.

Today at the National Retail Federation (NRF) Annual Convention & EXPO, our team is taking the covers off of Windows Embedded 8 Handheld, introducing our device hardware partners, and showcasing the next generation of mobile line-of-business application experiences with one of our launch customers, showing how Windows Embedded 8 Handheld devices help them deliver on the promise of intelligent systems.

Microsoft and mobile devices for industry have a long and successful history together. Starting with Windows CE, Windows Mobile and Windows Embedded Handheld 6.5, Microsoft mobile platforms today power mobile devices in all industries, helping businesses and governments deliver secure mobile productivity in stores, warehouses, delivery fleets, ports, hospitals, and airplanes. Devices from Microsoft’s hardware partners ensure customers have durable, secure, and reliable connectivity to enterprise systems, allowing them focus on their business, whether inside their showrooms, on the road, at the jobsite or at their customers.

Getting to know Windows Embedded 8 Handheld

Windows Embedded 8 Handheld is more than just the successor to Windows Embedded Handheld  6.5. It’s a complete re-imagination of the enterprise mobile device. With Windows Embedded 8 Handheld, the platform is now based on the Windows Phone 8, which itself is built on Windows 8. In addition to the highly-praised Windows Phone 8 user interface, both Windows Phone 8 and Windows Embedded 8 Handheld now share a common kernel with Windows. The benefits from this enterprise-tested platform, from security to reliability to performance to development tools is immediately available to enterprises.

In creating Windows Embedded 8 Handheld, we partnered deeply with our hardware partners and launch customers to align on the scenarios we’d deliver to support those customers in their deployments. Here is an introduction to what Windows Embedded 8 is delivering when the first devices are deployed later this year:

  • We worked with Qualcomm to ensure that the enterprise-grade Wi-Fi support needed for large-scale indoor device deployments ;
  • Also with Qualcomm, we extended the processor support of Windows Embedded 8 Handheld because our OEMs need to be able to create both wide-area network (WAN) devices (WAN devices have both cellular and Wi-Fi connectivity) as well as local-area network (LAN) devices which have Wi-Fi only -  important for devices that will always be used inside a building like a showroom or warehouse;
  • We have created a secure, managed area in Windows Embedded 8 Handheld, which allows companies to populate and manage and secure critical apps;
  • We’ve provided our OEMs with the ability to add dedicated hardware buttons for key functionality that has to be available at, well, the press of a button. For example, users need to be able to scan a bar code in just one step, just as they expect to be able to make a “walkie-talkie” connection to their co-workers;
  • Our hardware partners take pride in the performance of their peripherals and innovate relentlessly to deliver top performance to customers. With Windows Embedded 8 Handheld, we’re taking a new approach to peripheral support that is better for our OEMs, application developers, and customers. Our team is delivering common developer APIs for the integrated peripherals, ensuring that an application that, for example, needs to use a scanner will work without change on devices from all OEMs, just like peripherals such as printers work in Windows. The peripherals our OEMs create and integrate into their devices are incredibly powerful and configurable, offering enterprises many ways to optimize the performance of device to their operational needs. In Windows Embedded 8 Handheld, IT administrators will configure these peripherals using either control panel settings or a dedicated configuration app, which will be unique to each OEM;
  • The first APIs that we’re delivering support scanners and imagers, magnetic card readers and EMV payment technology. We’re working with the NRF ARTs industry council and building these APIs to the UPOS v2 specification, which we’re helping to define. Together with our OEMs, we’ve defined the priority for additional APIs in future releases;
  • We’ll also deliver these APIs in future Windows Embedded releases, providing a consistent set of APIs for line of business applications, regardless of whether the platform is mobile or not.

Introducing our device partners

Our Windows Embedded 8 Handheld program is a joint effort between Microsoft and our partners, Bluebird, Honeywell, Ingenico, Intermec and Motorola Solutions. Each of these partners brings unique capabilities and focus to our program:

  • Bluebird is a global provider of handheld mobiles. The company’s expertise ranges from enterprise and industrial handheld mobile computers, printer-integrated mobile computers, handheld scanners, and handheld RFID. Bluebird is the only manufacturer focused on providing handheld mobiles for both the AIDC market as well as payment operations, under the brand name of Pidion. In retail, as in other industries, there is value in shortening the development cycles and bringing devices to market quickly, to rapidly address customer needs. Bluebird, a Korean OEM, is excellent at this; they want their Windows Embedded 8 Handheld device to be the first on the market.
  • Honeywell, a Fortune 100 tech leader, is a significant player in the Windows Embedded ecosystem, giving enterprise customers meaningful new options for their handheld acquisitions. The company’s current Dolphin release—which runs on Windows Embedded Handheld 6.5—is empowered by the platform’s security and management capabilities. It’s known for providing exceptional durability and extended battery life, and as such has become the go-to solution for mission-critical data collection by some of the biggest players in logistics and transportation. Honeywell is currently defining its vehicle mounts and mobile computing product roadmap for Windows 8 integration. 
  • Ingenico is leading the industry in secure electronic cards and mobile payment technology; the Paris-headquartered global payment products and value-added services company is creating the next generation of devices for the new standard in payment industry. Called the EMV (Europay, MasterCard, Visa) global chip-based card standard, the technology is established worldwide and will roll out in the U.S. over the next several years, replacing traditional magnetic stripe payment card readers (MSRs). ‘Card-present’ transactions made with EMV chip-embedded cards, including both contact and contactless with PIN verification, are found to be more secure when compared to those made with traditional MSR cards. In much of the world, EMV has replaced magstripe as the primary if not only solution for making cashless electronic payments, and Ingenico says it is the number-one producer of that technology with over 14 million EMV-enabled terminals processing chip-card transactions daily worldwide. Ingenico will use Windows Embedded 8 Handheld to introduce the world’s first integrated mobile payments device.
  • Intermec is recognized by enterprises worldwide for its ability to strike a balance between rugged construction and lightweight functionality. Intermec’s product focus is on delivering mobile solutions for distribution centers, field service transportation, direct store delivery and various other markets where customers put a premium on ruggedization. The company’s 70 Series, comprised of four distinct handhelds, share a common platform and capabilities, but are each built to address specific business needs.  Despite their ultra-rugged design, these devices are among the smallest and lightest in their class—bringing together computing performance and sharp design to withstand the rigors of  everyday use, whether in the warehouse, on the sales floor or in the field. We’re excited about Intermec’s Windows Embedded 8 Handheld plans, as they bring the intuitive usability and enterprise security and management of the new OS to customers who need devices that never quit.
  • Motorola Solutions, a provider of mission-critical communication solutions and services for enterprise and government customers, is designing a line of retail devices from the circuit board up. The devices offer the latest technology support including intuitive touch usability, support for mobile point of service (POS) scenarios like line-busting and new application interfaces that make it easy to build line-of-business applications for leveraging integrated peripherals, such as barcode scanners, magnetic stripe readers and receipt printers. Microsoft’s deep collaboration with Motorola Solutions is producing a new retail solution for The Home Depot: a device that will pilot later this year, giving The Home Depot associates advanced tools like voice search and easy-to-use, touch-enabled business apps and more.

We’re working directly with each partner on their device programs and in the coming months we’re looking forward to being able to showcase the innovation these partners are bringing to market.

Come see for yourself

We’re at the NRF event in New York today and tomorrow, giving a preview of the next generation of industry mobile devices. In the Microsoft booth, we’re showcasing a complete intelligent system together with The Home Depot and we’ll be showing an early development prototype of a Windows Embedded 8 Handheld device from Motorola. We’d love to talk to you about what Microsoft and our partners can do for you with Windows Embedded 8 Handheld. 

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