Microsoft has dipped its toe into yet another pool -- embedded systems software -- and found the temperature to its liking.
At the Embedded Systems West Conference, in San Jose, California, the software behemoth officially unveiled Windows NT Embedded 4.0, which went into alpha-stage testing in late September and will enter a broader beta phase in early 1999.
With NT Embedded, Microsoft is targeting five potential markets, according to Jon Frederiksen, group product manager for Windows NT Server: telecommunications, office automation, the medical field, industrial automation, and retail point-of-sales devices.
While the embedded market now is made up of small companies such as Wind River and Radisys, the retail space is one where Microsoft potentially could end up competing with itself and its Windows CE platform.
"NT Embedded targets the high-end, and Windows CE the low end," Frederiksen said. "It depends on the footprint of the solution a customer wants, and the feature set needed, such as Win32 capabilities, or BackOffice integration."
Frederiksen said NT Embedded, built on the NT 4.0 Service Pack 4 code base, will include "headless" support to allow for booting up with no monitor, keyboard, or mouse support as well as remote management capabilities.
The system also will support diskless operation via a Write Filter driver and CD Boot driver, which will allow users to operate NT Embedded without a physical disk drive, from read-only media such as a Flash-ROM and CD-ROMs.
Additionally, NT Embedded will come with two development tools, Target Designer for selecting NT platform components, and Component Designer, for adding application and third-party components that are specifically shaped for embedded solutions.
Companies announcing support for NT Embedded at the show included Fore Systems, Manufacturing Data Systems, Natural MicroSystems, NEC, Network Engines and Toshiba America Information Systems.
Based in Redmond, Wash., Microsoft Corp. is at www.microsoft.com.