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Microsoft OS Comparison for Point of Service Devices

 

Microsoft Corporation

May 2006

Applies to:
   Windows XP Professional
   Windows XP Embedded
   Windows Embedded for Point of Service
   Windows CE 5.0

Summary: This set of frequently asked questions is aimed at helping decide which Windows operating system is most appropriate for a retail or hospitality organization's point of service (POS) devices. (5 printed pages)

Contents

Introduction
Frequently Asked Questions
POS Operating Systems: Feature and Component Comparison

Introduction

Microsoft has a broad collection of operating system platforms that can be used in point of service (POS) devices that are typically deployed in retail and hospitality organizations. These can include point of sale terminals, information kiosks, self-checkout systems, price-checking terminals, fuel pumps, and ATMs. The purpose of this document is to help enterprises determine the best operating system platform to use on these devices.

Below is a list of frequently asked questions that may assist you in making a decision about which operating system is most appropriate for your POS devices. A table follows, representing a list of the features and components associated with each of the following Microsoft operating system options: Windows XP Professional, Windows Embedded for Point of Service, Windows XP Embedded, and Windows CE 5.0.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Windows Embedded for Point of Service the next version of Windows XP Embedded?

No. Windows Embedded for Point of Service is a new operating system that has been developed and optimized for use on POS devices such as self-checkout, information kiosks, and point of sale devices. Windows XP Embedded will continue to be licensed for use on fully customized embedded devices, and for use on POS systems with unique requirements not supported by Windows Embedded for Point of Service.

What are the key differences between Windows XP Professional and Windows Embedded for Point of Service?

Licensing differences—Windows XP Professional is licensed to support general-purpose PC applications that can include Office Automation software such as Microsoft Office. Windows Embedded for Point of Service is an embedded operating system that is licensed for use on dedicated devices that provide only POS functionality.

  • Distribution differences—Windows Embedded for Point of Service is only available either preinstalled on POS devices from Microsoft OEM partners, or as an upgrade on existing POS devices. Windows XP Professional is available preinstalled on PCs or POS devices, as an upgrade to existing systems, through Microsoft Volume Licensing programs, or direct to the end user by means of retail sales channels.
  • Functionality differences—While much of the functionality of Windows Embedded for Point of Service is the same as with Windows XP Professional, hardware requirements for Windows Embedded for Point of Service are lower than for Windows XP Professional. Additionally, Windows Embedded for Point of Service provides multilingual user interface (MUI) language support for eight core languages as part of setup, compared to the full language pack support provided by Windows XP Professional.

Can Windows CE be used on POS devices?

Yes. Windows CE is a good OS platform option for very small footprint and mobile devices in a retail or hospitality environment—for example, mobile POS terminals, RFID scanners, mini or portable kiosks, and so on. Windows CE is also a good choice for retail POS peripherals such signature capture devices.

When considering Windows CE for use on full-featured POS terminals, there are a number considerations that should be taken into account: lack of support for the UPOS standard, requiring customized drivers to support most retail peripherals; a smaller number of drivers available for standard PC peripherals and devices; limited support for Win32 and .NET Framework applications; lack of support for Windows Update or Software Update Services (SUS); and the availability of only limited versions of Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player.

What does Microsoft recommend as the OS for POS devices?

As the operating system platform that has been optimized for use on POS devices—providing Plug and Play support for retail peripherals, automatic device enumeration and instantiation, support for PC management technologies, a minimized operating system footprint, and a single installation disk that can be used for multiple device types and configurations—Windows Embedded for Point of Service is the recommended OS for these systems.

Which operating system platforms provide Plug and Play functionality for retail peripherals?

Windows Embedded for Point of Service is the only operating system platform to provide Plug and Play functionality for retail peripherals such as cash drawers, scanners, POS keyboards, and receipt printers. This feature provides retailers with the ability to choose the peripherals that are right for their systems, update peripherals more easily, and decrease system support costs through streamlined integration.

How are Windows Embedded operating systems licensed?

Retailers can license Windows Embedded operating systems from Windows Embedded OEM partners. These can be preinstalled on POS device hardware, or as an upgrade to existing POS hardware. A list of partners providing POS solutions based on Windows Embedded is available at "Windows Embedded for Point of Service Partners."

For OEMs that are interested in acquiring Windows Embedded development toolkits and runtime licenses, visit "How to Buy Windows Embedded Operating Systems" for a list of Microsoft Authorized Embedded Distributors.

How are security updates deployed and installed on Windows Embedded for Point of Service?

Windows Embedded for Point of Service is supported by Windows Update, making relevant security updates available at the same time as those for Windows XP Professional. As a result, a Windows Embedded for Point of Service device can quickly identify required updates, and download them for installation either immediately or at a scheduled interval.

Windows Embedded for Point of Service also supports patch management technologies, including Microsoft Systems Management Server, Microsoft Software Update Services, Device Update Agent, and third-party management solutions.

Is POS for .NET functionality available for all Windows Embedded operating systems?

No. The POS for .NET implementation reference is available only on Windows Embedded for Point of Service.

Can I use Windows Embedded for Point of Service on both my POS systems and my office PCs?

Windows Embedded for Point of Service is an embedded operating system, and it is licensed for use on devices that perform only POS functions. Windows Embedded for Point of Service is not licensed for use on personal computers that are used for office automation or other non-POS-specific functionality. A Windows desktop operating system such as Windows XP Professional would be more appropriate for these systems.

POS Operating Systems: Feature and Component Comparison

For the purpose of quick comparison, Table 1 lists the features and components that are associated with the Windows XP Professional, Windows Embedded for Point of Service, Windows XP Embedded, and Windows CE 5.0 operating systems.

Table 1. POS operating system comparison matrix

 Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 2Windows Embedded for Point of ServiceWindows XP Embedded with Service Pack 2Windows CE 5.0
OverviewOperating system aimed at the desktop user, and deployed in retail when a single OS platform is required for the office and the storeRetail-optimized operating system for POS devices that is secure and easy to manage, and that offers retail device Plug and Play functionalityEmbedded operating system aimed at upgrading installed POS devices, and at offering full configurability and advanced security and management featuresEmbedded operating system platform for smaller footprint or mobile POS systems
Device ExamplesPC-POS system that also provides general-purpose PC functionality (for example, it is running Microsoft Office)Point of sale terminal, information kiosk, self-checkoutExisting POS terminals that cannot support Windows Embedded for Point of ServiceSmall-footprint price checker, signature capture device, mobile inventory device

Hardware

RAMMinimum 128 MB, 256 MB recommendedMinimum 64 MB, 128 MB recommendedDepends on configuration; typical is minimum 64 MB, 128 MB recommendedDepends on configuration: typical is minimum 16 MB, 32 MB recommended
ProcessorPentium III 400 MHz or better recommendedPentium II 233 MHz or better recommendedPentium II 233 MHz or better recommendedx86, MIPS, ARM, SH processors supported
Local Storage (Hard Drive)Supports hard drive, RAM drive—third-partySupports RAM drive, wear-leveling Flash disk, and hard drive; minimum 280 MBSupports RAM drive, Flash disk, hard drive; size depends on configuration: can be as small as 20 MBSupports Flash disk, RAM drive, and hard drive; size depends on configuration: can be as small as 300 KB
POS Peripheral SupportUnified POS: OPOS or JavaPOSUnified POS: POS for .NET, OPOS, or JavaPOSUnified POS: OPOS or JavaPOSFew native, minimal OPOS
Peripheral Support Verification by VeritestYes, with POS for .NET 1.1 add-inYesNoNo
Plug and Play Retail Peripheral SupportYes, for PC peripherals; no retail peripheralsYes, for PC peripherals and POS for .NET retail peripheralsYes, for PC peripherals; no retail peripheralsLimited

Application Model Support

.NETYesYesYesYes (.NET Compact Framework only)
Win32 YesYesYesYes (limited subset of Win32 APIs supported)
JavaThird-party JVM requiredThird-party JVM requiredThird-party JVM requiredThird-party JVM required
C/C++YesYesYesYes
Visual BasicYesYesYesYes
Application Support Verification by VeritestNoYesNoNo
Broadcast Loading of Terminals—Remote BootRequires third-party toolsYesYesNo

Management

SetupInstallation CD providing support for:
  • Remote Installation Services (RIS)
  • CD install
  • Network install from floppy
  • Remote boot
  • Plug and Play device installation
  • Networking configuration
  • Unattended installation
Installation CD providing support for:
  • Remote Installation Services (RIS)
  • CD install
  • Network install from floppy
  • Remote boot
  • Plug and Play device installation
  • Networking configuration
  • Unattended installation
Windows Embedded Studio—Target Designer toolkitWindows CE Platform Builder toolkit
General Systems Management ApproachSystems Management Server (SMS) or third-party solutionsSystems Management Server (SMS) or third-party solutionsSystems Management Server (SMS) or third-party solutionsSystems Management Server (SMS) or third-party solutions
Device ServicingYesYesYesYes
Patch Management/Software Maintenance UtilitiesWindows Update, Software Update Services (SUS), Systems Management Server (SMS), and third-party solutionsWindows Update, Software Update Services (SUS), Systems Management Server (SMS), Device Update Agent (DUA), and third-party solutionsSoftware Update Services (SUS), Systems Management Server (SMS), Device Update Agent (DUA), and third-party solutionsSystems Management Server (SMS)
Diagnostic ToolsYes—Watson TechnologiesYes—Watson TechnologiesYes—Watson TechnologiesYes

Licensing

License RightsGeneral-purpose computing device tasks, including POS functionalityLicensed for POS-specific functionalitySingle-purpose computing device such as POSSingle-purpose computing device such as POS
Product Support DeliveryDelivered by POS system provider (OEM) or MicrosoftDelivered by POS system provider (OEM)Delivered by POS system provider (OEM)Delivered by POS system provider (OEM)

Key Features Comparison

Windows Media PlayerYesOptional componentAvailable componentAvailable component
Direct XYesOptional componentAvailable componentNo; DirectDraw for Microsoft Windows CE supported
Internet Information Services (IIS)YesOptional componentAvailable componentNo
PnP Support for Retail PeripheralsYes, with POS for .NET 1.1 add-inYesNoNo
Language SupportFull Windows XP language packs supportedMultilingual User Interface (MUI) support for OS menu items and applications for eight languages, including Chinese (Simplified), English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, and Spanish Full XP Pro MUI pack support as available componentAvailable component
Retail Device Enumeration and InstantiationYes, with POS for .NET 1.1 add-inYesNoNo
Help and Support Files for OSYesNoAvailable componentAvailable component
Driver Support for Hardware Devices (Shipped with Windows XP SP2)YesOptional componentAvailable componentAvailable component
Full Code Page and Input Device SupportYesOptional componentAvailable componentAvailable component
Support to Manage Computer LocallyYesOptional componentAvailable componentAvailable component
Management Client SupportYesOptional componentAvailable componentAvailable component
Internet ExplorerYesYesAvailable componentAvailable component (limited)
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