Microsoft has announced Windows NT Embedded 4.0, a version of the operating system for embedded applications.
The product will be a full version of NT 4.0 Service Pack 4, with additional features for embedded applications, said Vince Mendillo, lead product manager, yesterday.
It will be used in a variety of devices including network and telecomms equipment (routers, PBXs, switches), point of sales systems and office automation equipment such as faxes and copiers.
The operating system will be able to work in systems without keyboard, mouse or screen and without a disk drive. The devices will be managed remotely.
The announcement follows earlier plans to bring the handheld operating system, Windows CE, into the embedded arena. But while Windows CE will be aimed at small form factors and low end applications, Windows NT Embedded will be geared towards more demanding applications based on standard PC hardware.
It will run only on Intel and compatible processors, not on the other chip architectures supported by the fully fledged NT (such as Compaq's Alpha). A minimal version will run in just over 10Mbytes of Ram, said Mendillo, but adding services to the kernel will up the required memory to about 20Mbytes.
An early alpha version of Windows NT Embedded was released to selected OEMs in September. A more widespread beta release is scheduled in Q1 of 1999, with commercial availabity later that year.
Pricing has not yet been fixed. Mendillo said feedback from OEMs suggested that the Client Access License (CAL) model used for other NT versions would not work well in the embedded arena.
While NT Embedded is based on NT 4.0, there will be a follow-up product based on NT 5.0, which has just been renamed Windows 2000. Windows 2000 Embedded will join Windows 2000 (successor to Windows 95), and the other W2000 variants - Professional (successor to NT Workstation 4.0), Server, Advanced Server and Datacenter Server.
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