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The Windows Embedded Team Blog brings together a range of voices to spotlight Windows Embedded news and information and reflect the evolving world of intelligent systems and specialized devices.
Posted By J.T. KimbellProgram 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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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.
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:
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A lot of our summer interns are wrapping up their experiences here at Microsoft, so you’ll be seeing several more of these posts in the next few weeks. In this post Arijit Choudhury, an SDE intern, tells you about his experience and work this summer.
Getting a chance to work as a Software Development Engineer (SDE) intern at Microsoft is my very own ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ story. I still remember using my first PC from the 90s (Windows 95 running on an Intel MMX processor) and how it introduced me to the Internet, PC games and computer science (CS). Today I am going to share my experiences about my Microsoft internship and in particular, my stint with the Windows Embedded Componentization team.
But first, whoami? I am Arijit Choudhury and I’m studying for my Master’s degree in Computer Science at the University of Florida in Gainesville. Before that, I finished my bachelors from the Dhirubhai Ambani Institute of Information and Communication Technology in Gandhinagar, India. Most of the time, you’ll find me programming (complete with noise cancellation headphones) or playing Soccer wearing an Arsenal jersey on the University field. Getting a chance to learn how to write good code for Microsoft and playing soccer along with other Microsofties in beautiful Seattle is my idea of a perfect summer.
Now that I’ve introduced myself, let us move straight to the three things that impacted me the most during my internship:
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.
As you may have noticed from our Community Technology Previews for Windows Embedded Standard 8, there have been some tweaks to how various technologies are represented and grouped in our toolkits, and they are not just cosmetic changes. Windows Embedded Standard 8 introduces the concept of modules, replacing the packages that were in Windows Embedded Standard 7 and providing more flexibility and enhanced functionality. In this post, Dave Massy gives an overview of modules and how they will change your development experience in Windows Embedded Standard 8. Dave is a Program Manager working on the componentization team of Windows Embedded. When not spending time with his young son and daughter, he enjoys driving his 1958 Jaguar XK 150 around the Puget Sound area. Additionally, Dave derives great pleasure from replacing any Z he finds with the letter S to properly conform to the Queen’s English.
In Windows Embedded Standard 8 there are subtle changes from Windows Embedded Standard 7 in how we expose individual technologies as building blocks for creating your OS These building blocks allow you to create an OS image that matches your needs and not include functionality you do not need.
In Windows Embedded Standard 7 we referred to the building blocks of the OS as packages. In Windows Embedded Standard 8, they are modules. Packages and modules may seem similar because you use them to build up a functional image. However, under the hood there are technical differences that allow us to improve the overall experience of using the catalog and defining an image that meets your needs. For instance, one of the key advantages is that third-party modules can be in the catalog alongside OS modules. You can even create your own modules using the Module Designer tool that is included in the Windows Embedded Standard 8 toolkit.