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What is Windows Embedded, and Why Does it Matter Now?

By ·Categories: Tech Explained·Published On: January 25th, 2020·4 min read·

Windows 7 Embedded Standard used to be the reliable choice for many embedded projects. In January 2020, Microsoft ended support for Windows 7. However, that same month, Microsoft announced an Extended Security Update program that will deliver critical and important updates to Windows 7 with options until October 2023. For more information, check out this information from Microsoft.

As we touched on in a previous blog, operating systems play a key role in the hardware decision making process. If you are looking to move beyond Windows Embedded Standard 7, now is the time to get started building your ideal OS. Our OS development specialists can walk you through the process of creating the embedded operating system image that best suits your unique device or installation. This blog will give you some great history.

What Happened to Windows 7 at the End of October 2014?

At the end of October, 2014, Microsoft stopped providing hardware partners with copies of Windows 7 Home (Basic or Premium) and Windows 7 Ultimate. Microsoft continued to offer support for these expiring systems until January, 2020. At the time, hardware buyers were left with a choice – to move to Windows 7 Professional (at a significantly higher cost than Windows Embedded), migrate to the much-maligned Windows 8, or take advantage of the continued availability of the Windows 7 Embedded Standard platform.

The various advantages and disadvantages of Microsoft’s Windows 8 offerings have been covered at length elsewhere, and there’s plenty of information available about Windows 7 Pro. Let’s take a closer look at Windows Embedded Standard 7, its functional differences, and why it was the optimal choice for users struggling with an OS decision in the face of Microsoft’s move.

What Is Windows Embedded?

Windows Embedded Standard 7 (WES7) was built on the same framework as Windows 7 Ultimate. This means that any software that’s compatible with a standard Windows 7 distribution also ran properly on WES7. Windows 7 Embedded Standard allows users to identify the specific components of the Windows OS that their system or device requires and includes only those features in the final image. In essence, Windows Embedded allows you to pick and choose the features you needed in your OS and forgo those that aren’t suitable for your unique installation or dedicated appliance.

Windows 7 vs Windows 7 Embedded Standard: The Key Differences

The most common question we hear about Windows 7 Embedded is how it differs from the other versions of the Windows 7 OS. The most appealing functional difference is the ability to customize Windows 7 Embedded Standard 7 with only the applicable modules for a given project. Features normally built into the standard operating system (graphical components, drivers, applications) that aren’t needed, can be discarded. By including only what is needed, the overall image size is reduced, leaving more space for application-specific programs and files. Users can also define their own custom-branded boot screens and have the ability to auto-run custom application on startup, creating a user interface and experience unique to that device.

In addition to its ease of customization, the final image is considerably easier to deploy. Here at OnLogic, we can upload a custom Windows Embedded image to our network and easily deploy that image on multiple systems before they’re shipped to clients. This creates a turn-key solution that’s ready to implement right out of the box.

Perhaps most importantly for embedded device development, WES7 also included additional Embedded Enabling Features (EEFs) that offered capabilities unique to the embedded variant of Windows 7. These additional features were designed to help integrators create a custom image that was perfectly suited to their unique application.

  •  Special write filters prevent direct access to the memory, prolonging flash storage life and preventing files from being modified.
  • The system can be set to boot directly from a saved hyberfil.sys file, reducing system boot times.
  • Windows 7 Embedded Standard allows users to assign Message Box Default Replies, which automatically logs and reacts to message boxes with “OK” or “Cancel” to ensure uninterrupted operation. Similar features can also be activated to respond to program dialog boxes.

How To Move Beyond Windows 7 Embedded Standard

If you are looking to move beyond Windows Embedded Standard 7, now is the time to get started building your ideal OS. Our OS development specialists can help walk you through the process of creating the embedded operating system image that best suits your unique device or installation. Contact us today at +1-802-861-2300 or fill out our simple online form to have one of our OS experts contact you for details about your project.

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Note – this blog was originally posted October 1, 2014. Updated June 25, 2020. 

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About the Author: Justin Ballard

The Technical Sales Manager at OnLogic, Justin brought his passion for technology and education to the team in 2011. When he isn't coaching new members of the Sales team, Justin can be found on the golf course taking advantage of Vermont's short summers.
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36 Comments

  1. Unggul June 4, 2015 at 3:46 am

    Dear Justin,
    I am developing a customized system for my client. I am using java as the platform of our development. My question is whether WES support Java as well?

    thank you

  2. Darek Fanton June 4, 2015 at 8:40 am

    Thanks for the question. Windows Embedded supports the same software as Windows Standard, including Java. If you have any other questions please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at info@logicsupply.com or use our on-site chat feature to speak with one of our Solutions Specialists.

  3. Alfredo Navarrete August 10, 2015 at 6:44 pm

    Hello Justin

    We have installed Windows 7 Profesional over Wyse T10 under VMware and found that terminal does not support Skype connectors (Microphone and Headset). Do you think this can be solved with WES7?

  4. Darek Fanton August 18, 2015 at 10:44 am

    Hi Alfredo, that’s not an issue that we’ve run into before, but in general we wouldn’t expect to see a difference in compatibility with the embedded OS vs the Professional version.

  5. mohamed February 18, 2016 at 4:33 am

    i have a windows embedded system, which we can’t connect it to Domain server, we have contacted the supplier which mentioned clearly, WE DON’T allow our device to connect to Network Domain Server. is there any way to connect this embedded system to the Domain.

  6. Balwinder May 1, 2016 at 10:53 pm

    I have Windows Vista on my PC. Can I install Windows Embedded 7 standard or 8.1 Industry Pro with Update on my PC ? Will it affect my current softwares?
    Thanks

  7. Darek Fanton May 3, 2016 at 5:00 pm

    Hi Balwinder, we would recommend doing a fresh OS install if you would like to use a different OS than the version currently installed on your system.

  8. Gireesh Deshmukkh June 28, 2016 at 3:15 am

    Hello,
    I want to use Windows Embedded for my customized system, but I am expecting that the use won’t allow to enter in Windows so I want to run my application only and windows is hide and run in background so user is not allow to or not able to see Windows. Is this possible in Windows Embedded.

  9. Darek Fanton June 28, 2016 at 10:06 am

    Hi Gireesh, thank you for your question. The short answer is yes, this is definitely possible in Windows Embedded. We have many clients who do something similar to what you’re proposing, limiting front-end access to the OS while still allowing users to interact with their custom application. The ins and outs of implementation will vary on a case by case basis, but this is certainly possible using Windows Embedded.

  10. Hammed July 1, 2016 at 6:13 pm

    Good day Sir, I have an evos cell imaging system that run a custom imagine software on wes7. The system recently crashed. The company said we should send the system to them. But its difficult to send from Nigeria to us. we successfully install an evaluation copy of wes7 but when run the application on wes7 it reported that pgr driver DLL could not load. What can we do to run the application from desktop icon successfully. Before the crash the app run automatically on start up.

  11. Ben Arnold August 31, 2016 at 12:15 pm

    Hi all,

    At my work we have an windows image that has been customised for our system, I have to buy some windows licences for when I install the iso on new machines.

    Legally is there any differences for licenses for :
    I’d rather just go for the cheaper option.

    Microsoft Windows 7 Professional for Embedded Systems – Licencia – 1 – 2 CPU – OEM – ESD – 32/64-bit
    1
    MICROSOFT
    184,58 €
    Microsoft Windows 7 Professional w/SP1 – Licencia – 1 PC – OEM – 32/64-bit, sin materiales – Español
    1
    MICROSOFT
    134,91 €

    Thank you for your answer.

  12. Darek Fanton September 1, 2016 at 9:19 am

    Hi Ben, licenses for embedded systems can only be used on an embedded, single task system. You should use the version of the OS that matches the version you pulled the iso from. You can check the version by going to Start > My Computer (right Click) > Properties or go to Control Panel > System.

  13. Manny September 19, 2016 at 2:15 am

    Hey Derek! This is a great article. I ran into WES7 when looking for a low-resource windows installation for netbook PCs, and WES sounds great. I’m really needing an installation that is lightweight and resource efficient, but also is secure and not vulnerable in the case that it is necessary to connect it to the internet.

    Do you think WES would suit these needs? It’s a much more consumer-oriented approach, as opposed to simply operating on a terminal or what say you.

  14. Darek Fanton September 27, 2016 at 4:24 pm

    Thanks for the kind words Manny, we’re glad you found the article helpful.

    As to your question about using an embedded OS on a netbook, while it sounds like WES7 would offer the functionality you’re looking for, embedded operating system licenses are most commonly only made available through OEMs to install on their own hardware, so sourcing and installing the OS yourself would be challenging.

  15. johnny October 7, 2016 at 12:19 am

    Hi,
    i am new to windows platform, i have small set of doubts related to windows 7 and windows embedded 7 .
    1. Can i install the windows embedded 7 in the general purpose PC’s.(like i have PC running with windows 7 professional,can i format it and install the windows embedded 7 ).
    2. The drivers which are provided by third party vendors will work on windows embedded 7 , same drivers for both the windows 7 and windows embedded 7. (like edge port serial to USB converters).
    3. any additional certification required for drivers to install in windows embedded 7 ?

  16. Satish November 11, 2016 at 3:07 am

    is there a version for 2010 in windows embedded standard?

  17. Darek Fanton November 14, 2016 at 9:33 am

    Hi Satish, thanks for your question. Do you mean Windows 10? There was no Windows release in 2010. For Windows 10 Microsoft changed the way they do embedded operating systems. The “embedded” version of Windows 10 is called Windows IoT. We wrote a blog about this topic which you can find here: http://www.logicsupply.com/explore/io-hub/windows-embedded-is-dead-long-live-windows-iot/.

  18. Darek Fanton November 16, 2016 at 11:19 am

    Hi Johnny,
    Windows Embedded can be installed on any system, but the licensing model is designed for purpose-built devices and is most commonly pre-installed by the device OEM. Many peripherals will work but you’ll need to check with the third party manufacturer to confirm compatibility. Drivers should not require any additional certification, but again that will depend on the particular peripherals/drivers being installed.

  19. Terje Osmo March 5, 2017 at 11:12 am

    Why do Windows Embedded come with an Admin password I dont know and make it impossible to open the laptop?

  20. Darek Fanton March 13, 2017 at 12:40 pm

    Hi Terje, while we can’t speak to your specific issue since we don’t work with consumer systems, it might be worth trying the default Windows Embedded Administration password which is “User”. The default account name is “Administrator”. Hope that helps.

  21. khaled May 23, 2017 at 6:30 pm

    Dear sir.

    we are working on a POS software for retailers and hospitality service providers. do you advice us to move to implement our solution with embeded OS. also we am most install the software on POS terminals.

    B.R
    khaled

  22. Darek Fanton May 24, 2017 at 12:04 pm

    Hi Khaled, thank’s for your question. You decision to implement on a given OS will largely depend on your requirements and desired functionality. I can say that many of our point of sale clients do utilize an embedded OS to allow them to pick and choose only the particular applications and features they need in the final image.

  23. vashu July 18, 2017 at 3:30 am

    hi can you tell me USB filter is in windows 10 IoT if not so why?

  24. Darek Fanton July 20, 2017 at 9:18 am

    Hi Vashu, thank you for the question. USB filter is a feature in Windows 10 IoT. You can find more information here: https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn449350%28v=winembedded.82%29.aspx?f=255&MSPPError=-2147217396. While that post is about Windows 8.1 we’ve verified that it applies to Windows 10 IoT as well.

  25. Rashid July 23, 2017 at 2:24 am

    Hi everyone, I have a query. I am running a test environment for VDI solution. I have some old PCs and laptops on which I want to access my VDI. but my requirement is not to use them as Soft Client but rather change hem to Thin Clients by installing embedded OS in it. So I want to know if windows 7 Embedded is supported on Desktop and Laptops? or if anyone knows any other OS which can convert my PC/ Laptop to a thin Client please let me know. I will appreciate your support.

  26. Darek Fanton July 25, 2017 at 9:37 am

    Hi Rashid, thanks for your question. Windows Embedded is not designed to be used as a thin client operating system, it’s simply a paired down version of Windows and isn’t optimized for virtualization. To set up your thin clients you could look into a DIY PXE server such as this – http://www.ccboot.com/pxe-boot-server.htm.

    Of course you could also investigate hardware designed for use as thin clients out of the box like our ThinManager line (https://www.logicsupply.com/products/by-application/industrial-thin-clients/), but it sounds like you want to use the hardware you already have.

  27. vashu August 10, 2017 at 12:53 am

    hi sir could you tell me ..can I use all windows embedded os like WES ,FES ,CE and win10 IoT enterprise for java or .net programming.

  28. Murali March 20, 2018 at 1:10 am

    Hi,
    Currently i have Windows XP Embedded running on one of my device and the device configuration is 512MB RAM, 2GB Hard disk, LV Celeron 650 MHz Processor. Is it possible to change the OS from Windows XP to Windows 7 Embedded on this device considering the above device configuration? If yes, is there any trial version available for Windows 7 Embedded to try out.

  29. John March 21, 2018 at 12:36 am

    Hi, We have developed with Windows 7 Embedded with many of our machines are across the world. What we are seeing now is that they are now being connected to the company networks as part of monitoring its performance etc. However now the machines are being attacked by Malware and the Wannacry virus. How can we protect this without destroying the embedded system installed.?

  30. Darek Fanton March 29, 2018 at 8:59 am

    Hi John, thank you for your question. Your particular security needs will vary, but installing antivirus/antimalware software is always a good idea on any system, embedded OS-based and otherwise.

  31. Darek Fanton March 29, 2018 at 9:03 am

    Murali, thank you for your question. Based on the system specs you’ve provided, we would expect you may run into performance issues when attempting to move to Windows 7 Embedded from XP. As for trial versions of Win Embedded, that particular OS is usually installed by the OEM rather than available for install by the user.

  32. Hossein May 8, 2018 at 7:09 am

    Hi,
    Can I use Windows Embedded Standard 7 for my home PC and reduce the OS features for -speed up performance and getting close to real time for specific task or its not very different from windows 7?

  33. Darek Fanton May 8, 2018 at 9:45 am

    Hossein, thank you for reaching out. Windows Embedded is typically installed by the manufacturer onto OEM devices before shipping to clients rather than being installed after the fact by individual users. As for performance, Windows Embedded might provide incremental performance improvements, but it will vary widely based on your particular application and resource demands.

  34. Kurt May 15, 2018 at 3:47 pm

    Hello,

    Situation: I made an image of a Windows Embedded Pos Ready/Ind Pro Retail machine that’s working fine.
    The reason I do it is because of an exact machine I have (POS) wherefrom the mSATA disk crashed.
    I placed this image on the crashed machine, now it works fine again.

    Problem: what about the windows licence?

    There is a label on it with the serial number (not activation key)
    Can I enter it somewhere in the registry???

    Thanks for answering

  35. varun May 13, 2019 at 1:36 am

    difference between windows 7 and windows embedded pos ready 7
    main difference

  36. Prasanga FErnando July 29, 2019 at 11:09 pm

    Hi, can we use WES with a domain (AD) without a problem ?

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