For quite some time it has been stated by Microsoft that there will be no embedded version for VISTA as it was for XP Pro (not taking into account the embedded licensing of the retail version).
But this has changed! Microsoft announced at MEDC that they are working on a modular version of VISTA Embedded including all EEFs (Embedded Enabling Features) we know from XPe. It will not be as granular as XPE (11.000 components) because the toolset will be based on the already available System Image Manger from the VISTA OPK/WAIK which currently controls several hundred modules. While this is absolutely great news and a lot of customers eagerly are waiting to use VISTA features on their embedded devices there are still some challenges ahead. E.g. up to now VISTA Embedded is said to still require activation, if not BIOS locked, which requires the OEM to have access to the BIOS source code. Something that can be problematic for smaller companies. A hughe step forward certainly is the deployment and maintenance infrastructure System Image Manger is able to provide in larger networks along with the new WIM disk image format and WDS (Windows Deployment Services). But there is still some time until release, which has been announced for 2009. In the meantime we can expect to see a lot of VISTA feature trickle down to XPe in the coming Feature Packs for XPe.