Microsoft announces Windows Embedded Handheld mobile OS

In a move that is sure to confuse everybody, Microsoft is today announcing the launch of Windows Embedded Handheld which is basically a handled/phone/mobile version of Windows Embedded Compact (check out the chart above to have a better idea of what’s going on). This “new” OS aimed and the enterprise / rugged mobile market will start shipping this calendar year in conjunction with the launch of the Motorola ES400 and will be based on Windows Mobile 6.5. Starting in Q2 2011 a newer version based on the recently unveiled Windows Embedded Compact 7 will be launched. Check out Steve Ballmer’s video followed by the full press release after the break:

Historically, Microsoft has offered two software platforms to help original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) deliver the next generation of enterprise handheld devices: Windows Embedded CE (the Windows Embedded Compact 7 community technology preview was announced June 1 and is available for download) and Windows Mobile.

Today, during Motorola’s launch event for its ES400 enterprise digital assistant (EDA) in New York, Ballmer announced that Microsoft is making several key investments in the enterprise handheld device market, including the new Windows Embedded Handheld brand. “These releases will provide proven management and security functionality, while giving customers confidence that investments in handheld enterprise devices and line-of-business applications will be protected over time by an extended support life cycle,” Ballmer said.

Windows Embedded Handheld is a new software platform designed to meet key line-of-business (LOB) scenarios and boost productivity of the mobile enterprise work force by enabling users to capture, access and act on business critical information where and when they need it. The first release under the brand is scheduled to come this calendar year and build on the Windows Mobile 6.5 platform with trusted management and security features, as well as enhanced protection for existing enterprise investments in LOB applications on devices.

For users, this means OEMs can take enterprise handheld devices — like the ones you see store employees using when you’re out shopping — and create something extraordinary. These devices can vary greatly in functionality, but imagine the potential to enhance key LOB applications with the rich, immersive user experiences of touch or gesture response, plus enhanced connectivity to Windows-based PCs, servers and enterprise services.

In addition, Ballmer announced that Windows Embedded will continue to support developer tools used in building applications and experiences on today’s devices, including Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 and Windows Forms. This will help provide confidence that the existing investments will be protected over time as Microsoft releases new software platforms, as the operating system support life cycle will be extended to more closely align with the typical life cycle of devices in the enterprise.

Likewise for enterprise customers of our OEMs, investments in existing enterprise LOB applications will also be protected. An updated Windows Embedded Handheld platform based on Windows 7 technologies (Windows Embedded Compact 7) will be released in the second half of calendar year 2011, offering enhanced features and functionality to meet the needs of networked enterprise devices. The platform will also enable new key scenarios through support for rich user interfaces and natural input. A clear migration path will be available for these applications with Microsoft tools and technologies to a new application platform based on Microsoft Silverlight and Microsoft XNA, as well as Visual Studio 2010, with the Windows Embedded Handheld release in 2011.

The future for enterprise handheld devices is endless. A current white paper from analyst firm VDC Research estimates there were 2.3 million device shipments in 2009 and anticipates this number to exceed 4.3 million by 2014. The Windows Embedded CE and Windows Mobile platforms accounted for 87 percent of these 2009 shipments, according to VDC Research, and the relationships with its partner ecosystem continue to strengthen.

Motorola’s ES400, just announced today, is a great example of what can be achieved when companies like Motorola and Microsoft collaborate to meet the needs of this space.

The ES400 integrates voice and advanced data capabilities, which bring out the full potential of mobile professionals by empowering them with the information and interaction they need to transform operations, increase enterprise profitability and complete their jobs virtually anywhere, anytime.

The next year is going to be a very exciting time for Windows Embedded as it continues to bring innovation to the enterprise handheld device space. Be sure to keep an eye on the Windows Embedded Newsroom for updates in the days, weeks and months ahead.

Source: Microsoft