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A History of Embedded and low-end Windows Operating Systems

The first major success story in small-footprint Windows operating systems was Windows Embedded CE (also known as “Windows CE”), which  emerged as a strong standard platform for embedded systems, especially in Industrial Automation.

During the launch of Windows 8, there was an attempt to bring a full Windows experience to low-end tablets with Windows RT. Unfortunately, this was not a success. Many apps didn’t work in the RT environment, and the operating system was quickly scrapped with the launch of Windows 10. There have also been attempts to bring the Windows environment to phones, but modern iterations suffer the same app problem.


A New Windows for Low-End Devices Thanks to Snapdragon?

This week Microsoft announced a partnership with chip maker Qualcomm. The new deal would bring Windows to their Snapdragon processors, ARM chips with low power but excellent battery life, which are ideal for tablets and smartphones.

The hope is that this new partnership will escape the problems of Windows RT, and instead allow low-end devices to make use of the full Windows operating system. Tests show that the gap between ARM processors and their beefier, but battery draining X86 cousins is narrowing quickly.


InduSoft Web Studio for Low-End Systems

In the days of Windows CE, a substantial portion of proprietary systems used for HMI in the “low end” (small systems) were replaced by devices running Windows CE. InduSoft was a pioneer in these embedded systems, offering complete HMI software for Windows CE with a small footprint, available for local HMI panels. This offered end users the power of choice for hardware platforms, and allowed them to deploy the same application on devices from different manufacturers. Moreover, InduSoft Web Studio introduced the concept of providing a single development environment for applications that could be deployed on devices running any Windows operating system, from Windows CE, to Windows XP Embedded, and so on.

InduSoftCEView soon expanded to include InduSoft EmbeddedView (for Windows Embedded operating systems), and IoTView, which supports Linux and VxWorks operating systems. For systems that do not require InduSoft Web Studio to run entirely on the device, thin clients and the Studio Mobile Access client also bring a full-featured solution to small systems.


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