Earlier this year, Microsoft announced that they’ll be ending retail sales of Windows 7 at the end of October. But, what exactly does that mean, and is it reason for concern for anyone currently using the soon-to-be-extinct OS?
As we touched on in a previous blog, operating system plays a key role in the hardware decision-making process, and Windows 7 has proved to be a reliable choice for many embedded projects. So, how does this end of life (EOL) notice impact users, and what steps do you need to take if your current or upcoming project, system or device is based on a Windows 7 architecture?
What is Happening to Windows 7 at the End of October 2014?
After the October 31, 2014 cutoff, Microsoft will stop providing hardware partners with copies of Windows 7 Home (Basic or Premium) and Windows 7 Ultimate. While Microsoft will continue to offer support for these expiring systems until 2020, and has not yet put an end date on the availability of Windows 7 Professional, essentially hardware buyers are now left with a choice – move to implementing Windows 7 Professional (at a significantly higher cost than Windows Embedded), migrate to the much-maligned Windows 8, or take advantage of the continued availability of the Windows Embedded Standard 7 platform.
The various advantages and disadvantages of Microsoft’s Windows 8 offerings have been covered at length elsewhere, and there’s plenty of information available about what Windows 7 Pro includes, so let’s take a closer look at Windows Embedded Standard 7, its functional differences, and why it might be the optimal choice for users struggling with an OS decision in the face of Microsoft’s recent move.
What Is Windows Embedded?
Windows Embedded Standard 7 (WES7) is built on the same framework as Windows 7 Ultimate, which means that any software that’s compatible with a standard Windows 7 distribution will also run properly on WES7. Windows Embedded Standard 7 allows users to identify the specific components of the Windows OS that their system or device requires and include only those features in the final image. In essence, Windows Embedded allows you to pick and choose the features you need in your OS and forgo those that aren’t suitable for your unique installation or dedicated appliance.
Windows 7 vs Windows Embedded Standard 7: The Key Differences
The most common question we receive about Windows Embedded Stnadard 7 is how it differs from the other versions of the Windows 7 OS. The most appealing functional difference is the ability to customize Windows Embedded Standard 7 with only the applicable modules for a given project. Features normally built into the standard operating system (graphical components, drivers, applications) that aren’t needed, can be discarded. By including only what is needed, the overall image size is reduced, leaving more space for application-specific programs and files. Users can also define their own custom-branded boot screens and have the ability to auto-run custom application on startup, creating a user interface and experience unique to that device.
In addition to its ease of customization, the final image is considerably easier to deploy. Here at Logic Supply, we can upload a custom Windows Embedded image to our network and easily deploy that image on multiple systems before they’re shipped to clients. This creates a turn-key solution that’s ready to implement right out of the box. In the case of other Windows 7 versions, users are often required to enter their own product key to activate the OS once their systems arrive.
Perhaps most importantly for embedded device development, WES7 also includes additional Embedded Enabling Features (EEFs) that offer capabilities unique to the embedded variant of Windows 7. These additional features are designed to help integrators create a custom image that’s perfectly suited to their unique application.
- Special write filters prevent direct access to the memory, prolonging flash storage life and preventing files from being modified.
- The system can be set to boot directly from a saved hyberfil.sys file, reducing system boot times.
- Windows Embedded Standard 7 allows users to assign Message Box Default Replies, which will automatically log and react to message boxes with “OK” or “Cancel” to ensure uninterrupted operation. Similar features can also be activated to respond to program dialog boxes.
Finally, Windows Embedded Standard 7 offers users a significant cost savings over the only other remaining W7 version available, Windows 7 Professional. Users implementing Windows 7 Embedded can save more than $30 per license, which adds up to significant savings in deployments that can involve hundreds of systems.
How To Make The Switch to Windows Embedded Standard 7
If Windows Embedded Standard 7 sounds like a good fit for your project, now is the time to get started building your ideal OS. Our OS development specialists can help walk you through the process of creating the embedded operating system image that best suits your unique device or installation. Contact us today at +1-802-861-2300 or fill out our simple online form to have one of our OS experts contact you for details about your project.