A fully coherent free electron laser (FEL) seeded with a higher-order harmonic (HH) pulse from high-order harmonic generation (HHG) is successfully operated for a sufficiently prolonged time in pilot user experiments by using a timing drift feedback. For HHG-seeded FELs, the seeding laser pulses have to be synchronized with electron bunches. Despite seeded FELs being non-chaotic light sources in principle, external laser-seeded FELs are often unstable in practice because of a timing jitter and a drift between the seeding laser pulses and the accelerated electron bunches. Accordingly, we constructed a relative arrival-timing monitor based on non-invasive electro-optic sampling (EOS). The EOS monitor made uninterrupted shot-to-shot monitoring possible even during the seeded FEL operation. The EOS system was then used for arrival-timing feedback with an adjustability of 100 fs for continual operation of the HHG-seeded FEL. Using the EOS-based beam drift controlling system, the HHG-seeded FEL was operated over half a day with an effective hit rate of 20%–30%. The output pulse energy was
at the 61.2 nm wavelength. Towards seeded FELs in the water window region, we investigated our upgrade plan to seed high-power FELs with HH photon energy of 30–100 eV and lase at shorter wavelengths of up to 2 nm through high-gain harmonic generation (HGHG) at the energy-upgraded SPring-8 Compact SASE Source (SCSS) accelerator. We studied a benefit as well as the feasibility of the next HHG-seeded FEL machine with single-stage HGHG with tunability of a lasing wavelength.