Most of our customers specify Windows Operating Systems for their embedded applications due to its widespread support and familiarity. However, there can be a downside to using standard desktop or laptop versions of the operating system in embedded and industrial system environments.
Typical issues with standard versions of Windows Operating Systems are problems caused when there are unreliable power supply arrangements and user’s “fiddling” with critical system settings.
Nowadays, most customers are using the embedded versions of the Windows Operating Systems. These allow for “locked down” and “write protected” implementations of Windows which are far more robust than the usual desktop & laptop versions.
The embedded versions of Windows can also be customised so that certain features are enabled and others are disabled. This “granular” configuration can prevent inadvertent system corruption by users altering settings and the write protection allows for the operating system to be rebooted to the same state prior to user misconfiguration (a stateless system).
At BVM we have over 15 years experience working with Microsoft Windows Embedded Operating Systems and have successfully ported and configured Embedded Windows for many different target environments. We have come across most of the “gotchas” that occur when getting the embedded Windows working with the target hardware and the customer’s application.
In fact, we often assist customers with the integration of their application to the Windows Embedded Operating System. There are often custom configuration changes such as domain connectivity being enabled correctly so that the device doesn’t “drop off” the domain after 30 days when the domain controller polls it to try and update the domain key.
We deploy Windows Embedded onto all types of embedded systems, from a tiny PC, embedded into a control panel, to large screen displays for use in public areas such as airports or supermarkets. Many of the Windows Embedded OS solutions that we deploy are implemented on a Panel PC (PPC). These are display units comprising an LCD panel, touch screen and an embedded PC board in an enclosure. The enclosures vary from aesthetic looking units to rugged industrial units suitable for use in factory or marine environments.
These are usually “thin client” applications which involve the configuration of the Windows Embedded OS and a browser with incorporated third party in-browser accelerators to connect as a front end to some form of industrial control system.
Another important facet of Windows Embedded Operating Systems is the deployment to the shipped production systems.
BVM have a complete toolset for configuration, capture, replication and updating of the embedded images.
At BVM, we have created an in-house deployment environment so that Embedded Windows OS images can be factory deployed to:
Hard Disk drives (HDD)
Solid State Disk Drives (SSD)
Compact Flash (CF)
Disk On Module (DOM).
These are the kinds of media that are used in the embedded systems that we supply.
Media used in embedded systems with Windows are usually configured into protected and writeable areas either by partitioning or on a folder or file basis. Quite commonly there will be a main OS partition that is kept as read only and a separate data partition used for writing user data. In the event of an unforeseen power failure, the Operating System partition will be protected, enabling the OS to be restarted successfully when the power is restored. The data partition may become corrupted depending on what the application was writing at the time. This is much less likely to be a problem if the Windows NTFS file system is being used for the data storage.
So in conclusion, Windows Embedded Operating systems are better than Windows Desktop or Laptop Operating Systems when used in embedded environments. Once ported, configured & deployed they provide a much more robust user solution.
Check out our Embedded OS Porting services to see how we can help you with your next project.
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