The Windows XP Embedded team has been working on a Feature Pack with a bunch of interesting features and are getting close to making this available as a Community Technology Preview (CTP), note that this isn't a Beta.
I snagged the following from the Windows XP Embedded Team Blog:
Among our biggest goals in this Feature Pack are to improve the developer's experience and to enable new capabilities and Microsoft technologies on your embedded device.This is far from an all inclusive list, among the most interesting aspects of this FP are:- New EEFs! Such as File Based Write Filter and Registry Filter.- USB Boot! Yes, this is native USB Boot capability in XPe!- Enhancements to EWF and Hibernate Once Resume Many- Many of the bug fixes you've been asking for in the Tools (such as Target Designer, CMI, Import Framework, SLX/XML usability)- New command line tool that replicates Target Designer, enables you to script your builds and much much more!- Tons of work on component dependencies to reduce footprint (including removing dependencies to the full "Internet Explorer" component!)- We've added new configurable UI to common components to simplify your offline configuration of images- New components added to the database to address more Application Compatibility challenges- New macro components to allow installation of other Microsoft technologies in your runtime- All security patches for XPe-SP2 rolled up to the Feature Pack repositoryHere are instructions to join the program and participate in early testing:You are invited to participate in a pre-release program on the Microsoft Connect Web site (http://connect.microsoft.com). Microsoft Connect enables you to communicate with Microsoft developers, product managers and other development team members to help make our products the best they can be. To accept this invitation and become a member, please follow these steps: 1. Go to http://connect.microsoft.com 2. Sign in with a MS Passport or Windows Live ID account 3. Click on Available Connections 4. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click on our program: Windows XP Embedded SP2 Feature Pack 2007 Community Tech Preview. 5. Enter your Invitation ID in the box. Your invitation ID is: 01-VB43-C3BB6. Click Go.7. If you have not previously registered with Microsoft Connect, you might be required to register before you continue with the invitation process. 8. You will then be asked to complete a User Profile survey for the program.
To report a problem or to ask a question, visit the Contact Us page (linked to at the bottom of every page of the Microsoft Connect Web site). For questions regarding this Community Technology Preview please email viewcust @ microsoft.com