Windows Embedded Standard 7 (WES7) has been a fixture in the embedded computing industry for nearly a decade. While the operating system (OS) isn’t going away, Extended Support is coming to a halt on October 13, 2020.
WES7 originally debuted in 2010. It differed from the more commonplace Windows 7 OS in that it offered the ability to customize with only the modules that are required for a given application. Those that are not needed, like graphical elements, drivers, applications, etc., can be deleted, reducing the OS’s footprint. Some level of customization is also allowed.
About a year later, Microsoft pushed out WES7 Service Pack 1 (SP1), which added some features, extensions, and updates. With this update, the OS is considered by most to be relatively stable, with only some security updates and bug fixes being pushed out, mainly for Internet-connected devices that take simply were not yet available when the OS was conceived.
In late 2015, the news came that mainstream support was coming to an end. Fast forward to 2020, and in October of this year, extended support will conclude. While you’d expect a natural migration to occur from WES7 to the next iteration, Windows Embedded Standard 8 series, that just wasn’t the case for many OEMs, mostly due to the provisioning concerns. Hence, vendors either stuck with WES7—and remain with it today—or moved to Windows 10 IoT Enterprise when it became available. OEMs can and will continue to ship products based on WES7 SP1, but must understand the risk they may be exposed to due to the lack of new security patches.
If you want to remain with WES7, for now at least, don’t despair; you still have options. For example, Microsoft says it will offer Extended Security Updates (ESU) on an annual basis. According to Microsoft, “The ESU program is a last resort option for customers who need to run certain legacy Microsoft products past the end of support. It includes Critical and/or Important security updates for a maximum of three years after the product’s End of Extended Support date.”
They make it clear that ESUs will not include any new features. And there are a few hoops you have to jump through to receive the updates, such as maintaining your licenses and service agreements. But it does allow you to keep your system fully operational.
The End is Really the End
Unlike hardware components, you can’t just go purchase lots of components and stick them on your shelf for when the EOL day comes. Operating system licenses work differently. When the license expires, it should no longer be shipped, even if the OEM already had the platform in stock and on the shelf.
The moral of this story is “be prepared.” You’ve received adequate time to deal with of these EOL notices, so there’s no reason to caught making last-minute design revisions. Your next moves could/should include:
- • Contacting a Microsoft partner to understand what your options are
- • Planning a migration to Windows 10 IoT Enterprise or some other OS
- • Carefully evaluating the potential risks of maintaining production of the unsupported OS
Here are WINSYSTEMS, we are taking these steps with our customers. Make sure you do the same.