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Microsoft Ushers in Windows XP Embedded

Microsoft Corp. Wednesday raised the curtain on Windows XP Embedded, a version of its new operating system intended for devices like gaming systems, self-service kiosks, ATMs and retail point-of-sale devices.

The release comes a month after the launch of the new operating system. Microsoft had promised to deliver it within 90 days.

Windows XP Embedded is based on the same core features as Windows XP Professional, and was developed alongside that operating system. It is broken into about 10,000 components, from which embedded developers can utilize prebuilt configurations or put together their own.

Among the first customers for the embedded OS are Bally Gaming and Systems, which plans to use Windows XP Embedded for slot machines; National Semiconductor Corp.; and NCR Corp., which will utilize the OS in next-generation ATMs.

"We chose Windows XP Embedded because we wanted the most feature-rich operating system to support our residential gateway, set-top box, thin client, mobile and handheld designs," said Michael Polacek, vice president of the Information Appliance Division at National Semiconductor. "Rich networking and multimedia features, along with broad application compatibility, made Windows XP Embedded the obvious choice for our advanced designs."

Microsoft said Windows XP Embedded supports capabilities such as headless support and flexible boot and storage options. It includes all new developer tools and allows for a range of footprints from a 4.8 MB minimum configuration, through to 70 MB for the full Win32 API set with the user interface, Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0, Windows Media Player 8.0, Terminal Server client, USB support and SNMP support. It allows for a basic Win32 system at 14 MB, and a basic Win32 system with security infrastructure at 25 MB.

To promote the new product, Microsoft is offering a free evaluation kit with a full version of the tools and operating system binaries. The embedded images created with the evaluation edition expire 120 days after the first boot of the device. The company also offered a 90-day promotional price of $995 for the full tool suite. It has also created a new Windows XP training curriculum, which consists of a two-day hands-on course for embedded developers that is available from more than seven certified training companies worldwide.

"We committed to providing the latest Windows technologies to our embedded customers within 90 days of the general availability of Windows XP, and we are excited to launch Windows XP Embedded ahead of that commitment, within 35 days," said Jim Allchin, group vice president of the company's Platforms Division. "With our free evaluation kit, promotional tools pricing, and in-depth training curriculum, there's no better time for embedded developers to start building their next-generation, smart, connected devices."