The New Face of the Windows Embedded Marketing Group
Sept. 14, 2010
Five Questions with Barb Edson

REDMOND, Wash. — Sept. 14, 2010 — It’s shaping up to be another busy year for the Windows Embedded Business, and Barb Edson wouldn’t like it any other way.

(Click the link to view Barb Edson’s keynote address at Intel’s Developer Forum - http://intelstudios.edgesuite.net/idf/2010/sf/keynote/100914_dd/start.htm)

Barb Edson, senior director of the Windows Embedded Marketing Group
Barb Edson, senior director of the Windows Embedded Marketing Group
Image: Page

Edson, who has spent the past 20 years in various marketing roles for technology companies including the last six for Microsoft, was recently appointed senior director of the Windows Embedded Marketing Group. And with this new role, she is effectively responsible for product management and planning, product marketing, and partner alliances for all of the various Windows Embedded software platforms.

The Windows Embedded News Center (WENC) team recently sat down with Edson to talk about why she joined the team, the challenges of her new job, and how her previous experiences, including serving in the North Dakota Army National Guard, prepared her for this new role at Microsoft.

WENC: First off, welcome to the Windows Embedded team. We’re excited you’re here. First question: What led you to join this fast-growing, rapidly changing team?

Barb Edson: Thanks so much! I’m extremely excited to join the Windows Embedded team at this moment in time.

The industry is truly going through a generational shift with the proliferation of devices, both in the consumer and enterprise markets, experiencing exponential growth; several industry analysts project the number of specialized devices will reach tens of billions in the next few years. Through the Windows Embedded portfolio of platforms and technologies, Microsoft is uniquely positioned to deliver the innovative tools and technologies for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to develop differentiated solutions that extend Windows and the cloud to specialized devices.

I am particularly passionate about our enterprise offerings given my long history in B2B technology companies. The solutions we provide across areas like automotive, retail, medical and industrial automation will significantly impact the strategic ability of major corporations to solve complex business problems and drive their shareholder value.

I am also having a lot of fun learning about emerging consumer opportunities including set-top boxes (STBs), DVRs and other connected media devices (CMDs), as well as special-use consumer devices manufactured by OEMs in Asia. My sons have enjoyed the gadgets I have been bringing home to gain real-life experience with all the many ways Windows Embedded solutions power our everyday lives.

WENC: As the senior director for the Windows Embedded marketing group, what will be your main focus?

Barb Edson: Our mission continues to be ensuring that the voice of the customer and partner is at the forefront of all business decisions. The industry is changing rapidly, and it’s imperative that we deliver market-driven offerings that enable our ecosystem to build differentiated embedded solutions by harnessing the power of Windows and connectivity to the cloud.

We will continue to evangelize and define the role of the cloud in the world of specialized devices. The cloud in simple terms is an approach to computing that’s about Internet scale and connecting to a variety of devices and endpoints, with our focus on ensuring that devices not only consume end-user services but expose services that are used by other devices, applications and services. This is a big bet for us and one that Microsoft is uniquely positioned to deliver on with assets across the company.

As a team, we’ll also have a focus on continuing to foster a strong ecosystem within the embedded industry. As more and more enterprise IT departments begin to do a major refresh cycle of their technology, specialized device usage will explode. To successfully navigate this generational shift, it will be critical for the Windows Embedded business to have a strong understanding of what our partners (e.g., system integrators, silicon vendors, distributors) are experiencing.

Lastly, we will continue to work hard to keep the trust and commitment of our loyal embedded developer community. Microsoft has been in the embedded business for 15 years, and many organizations and individuals have been with us on the journey. We have a history of inspiring innovation and plan to continue to show the world why a solution from Microsoft helps them deliver a better solution to their customers.

WENC: What experiences helped you prepare for a career with the Windows Embedded Group?

Barb Edson: I’ve been involved in technology companies for about the past 20 years or so. I’ve done a little bit of everything in the marketing field, from leading the global product management and marketing for Great Plains, a leading provider of enterprise-wide business management solutions, to driving SMB Product Strategy at PeopleSoft Inc., to being a vice president of marketing for a software startup. More recently, I’ve worked with Microsoft for the past six years in their Microsoft Dynamics group and was chief of staff for the Microsoft Business Division.

WENC: I was perusing your bio the other day (I had some free time) and also noticed you were part of the North Dakota Army National Guard. Two questions: a) Are tensions with South Dakota really running that high, and b) What set of skills from the National Guard have you used the most here at Microsoft?

Barb Edson: Well, I haven’t lived back in the area for over a decade, but I do still find it amusing that people in North Dakota still feel quite strongly about changing their name to just “Dakota.”

The military gives you an incredibly strong will; the phrase “give up” is not part of your vocabulary, and I’d say Microsoft shares this tenacious attribute. It also built my leadership skills, since as an officer you are put in tough situations where it’s your job keep everyone focused in a very chaotic and dangerous environment. You quickly forget about your own personal agenda and drive for the greater good of the unit. Your troops, team, are your lifeblood, so keeping them focused and energized ensures the rest will come.

WENC: I hear you’re attending the Intel Developer Forum this week in San Francisco; what’s on tap for you during the event?

Barb Edson: On Tuesday, I’ll join Douglas L. Davis, vice president and general manager of the Embedded and Communications Group at Intel, for a keynote address focused on emerging consumer devices, including some of the CMDs I mentioned earlier. I’ll be demonstrating a couple of early prototype STBs running Windows Embedded Standard 7 that deliver Windows Media Center directly on the TV. These prototypes are a preview of products that will be available in 2011, and I’m excited to give everyone a sneak peek.

The TV and CMD market is one of many areas in the broader embedded market where Microsoft and Intel have deep collaboration, and it represents one of the fastest-growing — and largest — potential markets for our two companies and customers alike. I’m happy to be able to attend and be part of the excitement at the event.

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