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Windows Embedded

What is Windows Embedded?

Windows Embedded is a family of embedded operating systems that offer familiar tools and technologies designed to bring the next generation of smart, connected, service-oriented devices to market. Microsoft has four different categories of operating systems available for embedded devices, each of which is designed to target a wide market that ranges from real-time to point-of -sale devices.

Windows Embedded for Intelligent Systems
Embedded systems are truly exploding in the market place based on a category the IT industry has named, Intelligent Systems. This is an exciting and growing category that’s offering the opportunity for real innovation and growth for your businesses. Multiple trends and changes in the technology industry are fueling the growth and use of specialized devices. Industry experts predict we’ll have 50 billion connected devices by 2020. Growth driving factors are:

  • Connectivity – devices aren’t stand-alone islands anymore. They are connected to other systems.
  • Big Data – each device generates megabytes of data; now multiply that by billions more devices.
  • Computing Power – faster chips and processors.
  • Human Interactivity – social media and interactive platforms are driving increased engagement between people. We want to engage and be a part of a larger whole.
  • Security – increased data and increased human engagement drive the need to ensure our data is safe and we can trust the system.

Intelligent systems represent what we expect will be the future of our business and your business. And as we prepare for that future, there is a critical reality we each have to face. An intelligent system isn’t just a matter of assembling thousands of data-gathering devices. An intelligent system is the amalgamation of devices, software, solutions, connectivity, servers, and analytics that produces business intelligence.

Windows Embedded comes with the support of an extensive and active development community. These industry-leading IHVs, ISVs, distributors and other experts can help ensure the timely delivery and profitability of your embedded device. With comprehensive features, easy-to-use tools, free evaluation kits and access to a large network of community support, Windows Embedded helps yield faster time to market and decreased development costs.

Why Windows Embedded?

Advantages of an Embedded OS
The Windows Embedded family of products provides the tools and innovative technologies you need to bring your next great device to life. This reliable, high-performance platform is used by developers to deliver products that stand out through rich user experiences and seamless connections. Windows Embedded offers a number of business benefits, including:

  • Faster Time to Market - Windows Embedded products enable faster time to market with comprehensive product development and familiar, easy-to-use developer tools that help reduce project duration.
  • Lower Cost of Development - Windows Embedded minimizes your investment by allowing you to evaluate and test most products at no cost within 120 days (180 days for Windows Embedded CE).
  • Pay-As-You-Go Licensing - Using per-unit licenses with tiered volume discounts, Windows Embedded allows you to defer your up-front investment and pay only when your devices ship. This helps reduce break-even volume and accurately predict total development investment.
  • Shared Source Code Program - OEM customers worldwide can create and redistribute commercial derivatives of the Windows Embedded CE Shared Source code for shipping in commercial devices without notifying Microsoft or sharing works with the embedded community. The source code is made available to facilitate the product development and support of Windows Embedded hardware, software and devices. The Windows Embedded Shared Source program allows you to access, debug, modify, improve and share the Windows Embedded CE Shared Source code for constant product development.
  • Preservation of Intellectual Property - While other operating system platforms require you to make your intellectual property public, Microsoft Windows Embedded licensing helps preserve intellectual property and protects you from the liability of using private code that is often found in the public domain.
  • Microsoft's Commitment to Windows Embedded - Microsoft officially entered the embedded marketplace in November 1996 with the release of Windows CE 1.0. The Windows Embedded team has since expanded the embedded portfolio to a family of multiple products with a long-term roadmap for continued growth and ongoing product development. The Microsoft Support Lifecycle Policy guarantees that Microsoft provides five years of mainstream support and five years of extended support for Windows Embedded products after release, for a total of 10 years of support.
  • Industry-Leading Partner Network - Through a worldwide network of industry-leading partners, you gain access to a vibrant ecosystem of valuable resources and services that help speed your device to market. Windows Embedded Partners include distributors, system integrators, independent hardware and software vendors, ODMs, OEMs, silicon vendors, tools vendors and professional training organizations.
  • Community & Support - Access to an active network of Microsoft developers, Windows Embedded customers and more than 500 Windows Embedded Partners and 60 Windows Embedded MVPs allows members to collaborate on every step of the embedded device product development process. Additional support includes third-party products and services worldwide; training, tutorials and how-to content; and online community forums such as newsgroups, forums, webcasts and blogs.
  • Increased Revenue Opportunity - Release a wider variety of compelling embedded products in less time than the competition and solidify your standing as an embedded marketplace leader. Windows Embedded makes previous projects reusable and allows easy updates and extended product lines by using existing code.

How to Buy

Purchasing Windows Embedded Tools and Products
The Windows Embedded comparison table can assist in determining which Microsoft Embedded product is right for you. Once you have established the best product for your needs, the following purchase process can be followed.

  • 1. Evaluate the product - Trial software enables you to evaluate the product prior to purchase. Download or order a copy of the trial version, or contact Avnet to obtain the trial version of the Windows Embedded product that best fits your needs. With the trial software you can build devices that use Windows Embedded technologies.
  • 2. Purchase the product's development tools - After you've completed your evaluation of the Windows Embedded product, contact Avnet to assist you with purchasing licenses.
  • 3. Acquire runtime licenses for commercial shipment - Once you complete testing and development and are ready to bring your embedded system to market, it's time to acquire runtime licenses and certificates of authenticity from your Microsoft Authorized Embedded Distributors for each unit that you ship. The cost for each runtime license may vary, based on the volume of licenses purchased over a given period of time.
  • 4. Subscribe to Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) – A Microsoft Visual Studio Professional Edition with MSDN subscription provides a cost-effective way to license Microsoft platforms and tools, receive technical support and obtain early access to the latest Microsoft updates available. MSDN benefits provide developers of embedded devices with a single subscription for access to the Visual Studio suite of software development tools and the following Windows Embedded platforms and technologies:

OEM CLA Licensing Process

The Embedded OEM Customer License Agreement (OEM CLA) is required to be signed for all Microsoft products purchased through the Embedded Distribution channel.

As a Microsoft Authorized Embedded Distributor, Avnet facilitates the licensing process between the Embedded OEM Customer and Microsoft Windows Embedded. The OEM CLA includes the general terms and conditions that govern the licensing of Microsoft Embedded Licensed Products.

Embedded OEM Customers obtain an electronic OEM CLA form from Avnet as a link by e-mail. Click the link in the e-mail and fill in and submit the CLA electronically. You will get then an eDocuSign request back from Microsoft to electronically sign the OEM agreement. Once Microsoft electronically countersigns the OEM CLA, an Embedded OEM Customer may order runtime licenses through Avnet.

If you have a third-party installer, please nominate this company as an "Outsource Manufacturer" (OM) in the additional right agreement (ARA)inside the CLA form. An outsource manufacturer can buy the licenses and install the images in the name of an OEM.

You can nominate a "Third Party Integrator" (TPI) as well. A TPI can develop the operating system image and software solution for the OEM. One company can be nominated for both roles.

The OEM Customer License Agreement (OEM CLA) remains valid for two years.

Microsoft generally contacts OEM customers 45 days prior to their OEM CLA expiration date by e-mail. Your Avnet representative will contact you as well. There is only one OEM CLA for all embedded products.

How to sign the Microsoft Embedded eCLA 5.0

  • Request the eCLA 5.0 link from your local Silica representative or from Avnet will then enter your contact details into a Microsoft online tool and Microsoft will send you an e-mail with a link to the eCLA 5.0.
  • Follow the link to the eCLA 5.0 from Microsoft. You will be asked to sign in with your LiveID. Please note that the LiveID needs to be registered to the exact same e-mail address as to which Microsoft sent you the e-mail! If you do not have such a LiveID account, you can create a new one. Please use the exact same e-mail address to create the new account!
  • Sign in with your LiveID and complete the online eCLA. All fields marked with an asterisk (*) are mandatory.
    • "A company organized under the laws of" must be answered with a country name, e.g. "United States."
    • Please use an English job title and not the academic title.
    • Notification contact may be a technical contact to get all the MS information.
    • Normally, the Company Ship to Information is the same as Company Information.  The ship to address is important for the OPK (installation media) shipments. Microsoft can only ship OPKs to this address.
    • Don't forget to choose a Device Category from the drop-down menu in the section "Embedded System Device Information."
    • If you have a third-party INSTALLER, please add an "Outsource Manufacturer" (OM). An OM can buy and/or install the licenses for the OEM.
    • If you have a third-party INTEGRATOR, please add an "Third Party Integrator" (TPI). A TPI can develop the operating system image for the OEM.
  • When finished, submit the eCLA form. Avnet will get then a notification e-mail to review the data. If something was completed incorrectly, you will get a notification back via e-mail to correct the fields. When all fields are ok, the eCLA will sent to Microsoft.
  • Microsoft will review the OEM data and send an e-mail directly to the "signer’s" e-mail address with an eDocuSign link to electronically sign the eCLA document. Please note that you can redirect the eDocuSign request to another internal e-mail to sign the agreement. Please eSign the CLA with the eDocuSign process.
  • Once eSigned, Microsoft will re-sign the document under eDocuSign and you will get an eDocuSign e-mail with a carbon copy of the agreement back. You can print out this resigned agreement if you desire.
  • Congratulations! You are now an embedded OEM and are allowed to buy and use Microsoft embedded licenses under the embedded OEM license terms! CLAs expire and must be renewed after a period of two years.

If you have questions about the eCLA process, please contact us at

Third-Party Integrator
Third-party integrators are companies that the OEM can engage with to create and/or test an image, application, or software driver for systems using Microsoft Embedded products. The OEM must request and receive approval by Microsoft to use a third-party integrator using the Third-Party Integrator Schedule attached to the CLA.

Outsource Manufacturer
An Outsource Manufacturer (OM) is a third party that the OEM can contract to do any of the following:

  • Install an image on an embedded system
  • Manufacture an embedded system
  • Prepare the embedded system for distribution
  • Distribute embedded systems

The OEM must request and receive approval by Microsoft to use a third-party Outsource Manufacturer using the appropriate form available from Avnet or downloadable from the MyOEM Portal. The OM can purchase Microsoft Embedded runtime licenses from Avnet, identifying the OEM and CLA#.

What is a COA?

Certificates of Authenticity (COAs)
Each runtime license contains a sticker that is known as a "Certificate of Authenticity" (COA). This is an anti-piracy device, OEM product-tracking device and proof of license for Microsoft OEM products. The COA is non-removable, sequentially numbered and contains additional anti-piracy features. It should be permanently affixed to an accessible location on or within each Embedded System. If attaching the COA is problematic, a waiver may be obtained from Microsoft, which allows an unattached COA to accompany the system.

Reconciling COAs
It is the OEM customer's responsibility to accurately reconcile the total number of COAs received with the number of systems shipped with Microsoft software. OEM customers should maintain appropriate records regarding the disposition of all COA labels, including serial number tracking of any COAs damaged as part of the manufacturing process.

Product IDs (PIDs)
The Product ID (PID) is also known as an Activation Key. This 5X5 sequence of 25 numbers and letters (12345-12345-12345-12345-12345) is used to make the installed Microsoft product "Production ready." If the PIP is not activated, installation expires after 120 days.

  • Windows for Embedded Systems (FES) and Embedded Server - Embedded Enterprise ("For Embedded Systems"-FES) and Embedded Server products have each system's PID printed on the individual COA.
  • CE, WEPos, POS Ready2009, XP Embedded, Windows Embedded Standard 2009 - For these licenses, the PID is not printed on the COA. Instead, a single PID is printed on a separate flyer that is enclosed in the runtime license envelope (which can contain 1, 10, 100 or 1000 COAs). Only one PID per envelope is available and the Embedded OEM can enter this single PID number in the design tool to permanently unlock the embedded image. Since the PID does not correspond with the number on the license stickers, any number of systems can share the same number and additional PIDs acquired from subsequent purchases of runtime licenses need not be obtained.
  • POSReady7, Industry 8, WES 7 & 8 - For these licenses, the PID is not printed on the COA (Certificate of Authenticity). Instead, you must request a PID application from your Avnet at

Additional Licensing Terms (ALTs or ATs)
ALTs (formerly "Additional Licensing Provisions" or ALPs) define distribution rights and restrictions specific to each individual Microsoft Embedded Licensed Product. To track inventory and accommodate customer packaging requests, Avnet's part number, which corresponds to the Microsoft part number, signifies how many runtime licenses and COAs are in each envelope. For example, an envelope containing one (1) runtime license of Microsoft part # 7WT-00011 would be identified as "7WT-00011-1PK", with larger pack sizes containing  "-10PK", "-100PK" and "-1000PK" suffixes.

Licensing provisions
Each envelope has a "Break the Seal" (BTS) Agreement. Breaking the seal to open the envelope signifies that the Embedded OEM Customer accepts the terms and conditions of the LTs. Once the seal is broken, the runtimes cannot be sent back to Avnet or Microsoft. Printed versions of the ALTs are attached to the front of the runtime license envelope. However, a copy of these documents can also be obtained from Avnet's Microsoft team or downloaded from the Microsoft MyOEM Portal.

Microsoft Software Licensing Terms (LTs)
Each OEM is required to ship with each system the End User Licensing Terms (LTs). This document serves the same function as the End User License Agreement (EULA) that appears on the screen when a customer activates a non-embedded product. For embedded products, this comes in the form of a printed document that includes the name of the embedded OEM. These license terms are an agreement between the End User and the Embedded OEM. A template for this document is available from Avnet's Microsoft team or can be downloaded from Microsoft’s MyOEM Portal. There are different versions of this document for the different types of Microsoft Embedded products.


Windows Activation
Windows Activation is a product used by Microsoft to reduce illegal software piracy. When a computer system with a non-embedded Windows operating system is turned on for the first time, the user is prompted to "activate" the operating system (OS). When the user agrees to allow the OS to be activated, the system connects to Microsoft via the internet and the OS's unique runtime license becomes associated with the unique hardware on which it is installed, and the 30-day use restriction is removed. If an internet connection is not possible, users can activate the key by contacting the Microsoft Product Activation Center and following the steps provided by an automated telephone system or by a customer service representative. Without activation, the OS will stop working after 30 days.

OEM Activation (OA)
OEM Activation allows OEMs to pre-activate licensed copies of Windows Embedded operating systems at their location, which eliminates the activation process required by users. OA can be used to pre-activate the "for Embedded Systems" versions of Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7 and the embedded versions of Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2008 R2.

To use OEM Activation, the OEM must have purchased either 100 copies of Windows Embedded Server or 1,000 copies of the "for Embedded Systems" versions of Windows 7, Vista or XP within the last 12 months.

In order to set up OEM Activation, the OEM must purchase and use a Hardware Security Module (HSM) available from Thales (formerly nCypher), which places markers into the firmware (BIOs tables) of the motherboard intended for use. Thales is the only authorized source for HSMs.

Recovery Media
OEMs who use Microsoft Embedded are required to deliver the Embedded OS preinstalled on the system. The OEM is also permitted to create media for image recovery, update or field upgrade. Only an OEM or Microsoft Authorized Replicator can create an image disk. Avnet has partnered with several Microsoft Authorized Replicators and can supply the OEM with the image media, making sure that the media meets the guidelines set by Microsoft. Below is an illustrated guideline showing how the media should be printed.


For more information on Microsoft Windows Embedded Licensing, contact
Avnet’s Microsoft Team at or (800) 474-3044.

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