It has been almost 7 years since Microsoft released XP Embedded. So what do we know about it, what are some of the features, and what are the advantages over Windows XP?

About Windows XP Embedded

Microsoft XP Embedded is the componentized version of Microsoft Windows XP Professional. Componentized? It means that the OEM developer and end-user can take full advantage of all Windows XP Professional features and applications or choose to utilize only the necessary ones. By being able to select only the components required for the application, the developer is able to reduce the overall footprint of the platform.Features and applications like user interface, Internet Explorer, Disk Management are represented by components or component sets. Components are sets of all the necessary system files, registry entries and settings required for a Windows application or function.

To create and customize your operating systems you are “armed” with over 10,000 components, and that is just the beginning. There are tools and applications (Dependency Walker, RegMon) that will make your development feel like a stroll in the park. XP Embedded not only allows you to create operating systems exactly as you always wanted to, but also enables you to create your own user interface. For less advanced users, thousands of components to choose from is more than enough to create a full operating system—just drag and drop. There are several quite interesting features that can be found in XP Embedded. Just a short list below:

  • EWF is a new feature responsible for your data security; it also limits wear on your flash media.
  • HORM-Hibernate Once Resume Many. If you need fast boot-up time, you will need HORM
  • USB and CD-ROM booting

Another important feature is footprint. The size of your operating system can range anywhere from 120MB to 1GB+. The size is dependent on your requirements. This opens up a variety of storage options, including the utilization of CF cards or other solid state disks.

XPe Around Town

XP Embedded can be found in many places. You might not know it yet, but I can guarantee you’ve used it before in some of the following instances:

  • Internet and Media Applications
  • ATMs
  • Self-service kiosks
  • Fuel pumps
  • Medical devices
  • Gaming devices

So, how am I using Windows XPe? Well, I am currently working on a slot machine and arcade system. My home computer is so slow, that all I can play is Alien Breed and Online Poker. Windows XPe seems to be pretty interesting and flexible, so I thought that I could apply some of its features to my own turf. I am planning to create a custom shell with Mame32 as my emulator and file browser to manage ROMs. A few things about development: Depending on how complicated your operating system is, the development time will vary. A simple XPe image from the moment you install XPe to the First Boot Agent can take as little as 20 hours. The fun begins when have to create your custom shell and your own components, and then troubleshoot constant error messages. It will be frustrating at the beginning. My advice, register on a few forums and share your questions with others.

A few useful links are listed below.

Good luck.