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  • Windows Embedded Blog

    Updating Your Windows Embedded Standard 8 Devices

    Posted By J.T. Kimbell
    Program Manager

    When thinking about the newest features or the things that may excite you about the next Windows Embedded release, servicing may not be the first thing that comes to mind. However, as many of you know, servicing and managing your devices comprises a huge part of their lifecycle and cost. We realize this as well in the Windows Embedded team and strive to make the servicing and update experience as simple as possible for Windows Embedded Standard 8. In many ways, this means making the experience as close as possible to the Windows 8 servicing experience.

    Changes to Windows Update Experience

    In Windows Embedded Standard 7, all updates to Windows were applicable to Windows Embedded, but only security updates appeared through Windows Update. Additionally, those security updates were packaged separately from the Windows security updates. As such, they would appear in the IT administrator’s consoles separately as “Security Update for Windows 7” and “Security Update for Windows Embedded Standard 7” even though they contained the same payload.

    For Windows Embedded 8, all update types will be available through Windows Update (with the exception of service packs) and these will be packaged together with the updates release for Windows 8, meaning less clutter in the IT admin’s console. To learn more about the nine different update types, please see the appendix below.

    Also, several changes have been made to Windows 8 that will also improve the Windows Update experience for Embedded customers. As described in this blog post on the Building Windows 8 blog, there will be less disruptive reboots due to Windows Updates, which is being achieved in a handful of ways:

    1. Updates will only cause a reboot when security updates are downloaded during the 2nd week of each month, regardless of when these other updates that require a reboot were downloaded
    2. Required update notifications will no longer appear as a popup or “toast”, but instead the notification will appear on the logon screen
    3. The computer will not restart if there’s the potential to lose data

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  • Windows Embedded Blog

    Lockdown is not just about lockdown

    Posted By J.T. Kimbell
    Program Manager

    This is the last entry in this week’s series about the lockdown features found in Windows Embedded Standard 8. In this post Brendan Rempel goes into more depth about how to manage your lockdown features. Brendan is a Software Development Engineer who works on a variety of Windows Embedded device lockdown features. Outside of Embedded, Brendan spends all remaining time with his family, fueling two boys’ obsessions with loud toys, especially the Washington State’s steam trains and model rockets.

    But before Brendan gets into the meat of this article, he’s got a story to share.

    A while back I had nifty a car alarm. It had all the typical features for preventing theft and even had an engine starter. But the best part was the remote. It had a little picture of a car and realistic LCD indicators to represent its state. I could press a button to see if the doors were locked and lock them if they weren’t. It could tell me if the engine was started correctly. It would also beep loudly if someone tried to break in. Best of all, it had a ¼ mile range and worked even when in deep underground parking. While it didn’t stop break-in attempts, I was able to respond fast when someone did and never worried about the car being secure.

    Windows Embedded Standard 8 introduces many new and improved features related to securing devices and maintaining their primary purpose. We’ve also added consistent user interface through the MMC and a consistent set of WMI providers for easy scripting. This was all meant to help administrators manage devices, regardless of how that’s done.

    Using history as our teacher, we learned that many Lockdown related problems in devices go undetected. It’s easy to remember being at an airport, freeway, or game and see a digital sign showing a Windows error message or logon screen. This is as embarrassing to us as it is for the person who made the device, but often only the public knows when this happens. This is why we’ve done our best to stop these problems, but we’ve added several new features to help administrators detect when problems sneak through and record when we succeed.

    All our features use the Event Tracing for Windows (ETW) to report problems in their typical scenarios. This includes:

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  • Windows Embedded Blog

    Easily Managing Your Lockdown Features

    Posted By J.T. Kimbell
    Program Manager

    Today I’m going to share a demo of something pretty awesome with you guys. Not as awesome as the recently announced Microsoft Surface tablet, but it’s still pretty cool. On Monday, we gave an overview of all the lockdown features on Windows Embedded Standard 8, and today I’m going to be showing you how you can easily manage those lockdown features by using the Unified Configuration Tool (UCT), a Microsoft Management Console (MMC) snap-in.

    UCT comes as part of the Windows Embedded Standard 8 toolkit and can be installed by running emblockSetup_amd64.msi or embblockSetup_x86.msi (depending on your developer machine’s architecture). Download our second Community Technology Preview (CTP2) to try it out. With the tool, the lockdown features on your Windows Embedded devices can be remotely or locally managed by graphical user interface. From changing your custom shell for Shell Launcher to selecting what processes to block with Dialog Filter, there is a lot that UCT lets you configure.

    With some help from Brendan Rempel, a developer working on UCT, I created the following video that shows you UCT in action and teaches you more about it.

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  • Windows Embedded Blog

    The Intern Perspective: Meg Quintero

    Posted By J.T. Kimbell
    Program Manager

    We continue our series of posts from Windows Embedded interns with the first of our 3 Explorer Interns that I had the privilege of coaching this summer. What’s an Explorer Intern? These interns don’t spend their whole summer in one of the three Software Development positions, but rather rotate between all of them, getting a taste for each. They’ll get the chance to come back next summer as a regular intern in the role of their choice. Below, Meg Quintero will tell you about her summer here in Seattle. To learn more about her project, check back next week for a post authored by all three Explorers.

    Introduction

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    Intern Signature Event at Gas Works Park

    Oh hai! My name is Meg, and I am one of the three Explorer interns on the Windows Embedded team. I am a rising junior at Harvard College concentrating in Computer Science and am contemplating a minor in Anthropology to further explore human interaction with technology. I am most recently from Havre, Montana, however, Cambridge has become more of my home. Back at Harvard, I am a soprano in the Harvard LowKeys, a contemporary co-ed a capella group, and have been singing for as long as I can remember. I enjoy biking, rollerblading, running, and pretty much anything that allows me to be outside. I am a big fan of the Red Sox and was able to attend a Red Sox vs. Mariners game and rep my team. I have been enjoying all that the Puget Sound area has to offer including incredible theater (“Rent”, “Les Miserables”, and “Turandot” were phenomenal), great shopping (Pike Place FTW), and waterfront a plenty. I also felt as if I died and went to heaven when I was handed a Samsung 9 Series Ultrabook at the Microsoft Intern Signature Event after hearing one of my favorite bands (Young The Giant) live at Gas Works Park.

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  • Windows Embedded Blog

    What is lockdown and branding in Windows Embedded Standard 8, and where are my EEFs?

    Posted By J.T. Kimbell
    Program Manager

    Over the next week we’re going to have a small series highlighting various Lockdown features on Windows Embedded Standard 8. In this first post Kevin Asgari gives us an overview of the Lockdown and Branding features found in Windows Embedded Standard 8. Kevin is a Writer for the Windows Embedded team and in his spare time enjoys reading, skiing, visiting wineries, and spending time with family.

    Windows Embedded Standard provides a building block version of the Windows operating system, enabling you to create a smaller, customized version of Windows by removing functionality that your device does not need. In addition, Windows Embedded Standard provides additional functionality for embedded devices that is not available in the full Windows OS. In Windows Embedded Standard 7 and earlier, we called these new features “embedded enabling features”, or EEFs for short.

    However, “embedded enabling features” is not a very descriptive term. In Windows Embedded Standard 8, we now call these features lockdown and branding features.

    Lockdown features enable you to provide a controlled device experience, mainly by limiting the ways in which an end user can interact with the device. For example, your device may be a dedicated cashier device that runs a full screen cashier application, and you may want to prevent users from being able to use Windows shortcut keys like Alt+Tab to switch out of the application, or Alt+4 to close the application.

    Branding features enable you to hide or change many of the parts of the OS that identify it as a Windows product. You may want the devices your company produces to show only your company’s branding to your customers for better brand recognition, or you may want to hide the underlying OS so that end users are less likely to try to break out of the tailored device experience.

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