Over the past year, Microsoft has been discussing the vast possibilities offered by the emergence of a new category within the traditional embedded market - intelligent systems. A critical component of Microsoft's enterprise strategy, intelligent systems enable an unprecedented flow of data with the power to transform industries such as retail, manufacturing and medicine, by connecting devices where data is generated through employees and customers to back-end systems and services where it is translated into strategic insight to inform business decisions. Last November, Microsoft outlined a product road map for its intelligent systems vision. As part of that plan, today Microsoft is making the Windows Embedded Standard 8 community technology preview (CTP) available on the x86 architecture. With Windows Embedded, developers can use the same trusted tools used in building applications for Windows 8 to build specialized devices within line-of-business applications - extending the power of Windows 8 and the cloud to intelligent systems. Using the Windows Embedded platform, retailers can build smart digital signage and intelligent kiosks. Manufacturers can connect shop floor devices to back-end IT. In medicine, equipment for ultrasounds, x-rays and MRIs can deliver results directly to doctors at the bedside. The Windows Embedded Standard 8 CTP is an important step in giving developers and enterprises an opportunity to evaluate Windows 8 technologies for connecting specialized devices to powerful back-end software. With the recent release of the Windows 8 Consumer Preview and Windows Server 8 beta, along with this week's launch of SQL Server 2012 and Windows Embedded Standard 8 CTP, Microsoft is offering a good look at a new, common set of technologies that spans specialized devices, servers, PCs and applications. About Windows Embedded Standard 8 Windows Embedded Standard 8 is a componentized version of Windows 8 that includes features designed to meet the needs of specialized devices within intelligent systems, such as these: Advanced device lockdown through flexible keyboard filters and a new unified write filter that combines previous write filters into a single, streamlined solution for better management and enhanced uptime. Support for customized experiences and branding from boot to shut down, so apps can take advantage of Windows with a customized look and feel from the first press of the power button. Componentization of the OS to scale the system up or down depending on the device, including a set of modules that have been preconfigured and tested to enable device-specific scenarios. IT pro management tools, including the Universal Configuration Tool (UCT) that provides for local and remote management, integrated into the security infrastructure. OS development tools, including the new Module Designer that allows developers to easily integrate third-party software into the OS, including the ability to copy files, execute commands, install drivers and modify the registry. With the release of this CTP, developers for specialized devices and intelligent systems now have access to all the key functionality of Windows 8. Windows Embedded Standard 8 targets the specialized device world with all the native security improvements to the stack and core operating system components as Windows 8. Also, since it aligns with the new Metro app model, Windows Embedded Standard 8 will also allow developers to scale apps across types of specialized devices, customizing the interface for each type of device while maintaining their own proprietary branding and experience. How to Get the CTP Interested? Head over to the Windows Embedded Standard 8 download center and get started today. It is free, and the only limit is your imagination.