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Microsoft Launches Windows Embedded Compact 7 for Tablets

It is clear Microsoft (s msft) is feeling the heat of competition from Apple’s (s aapl) iPad and Google’s (s goog) Android tablets. The folks in Redmond have launched a new version of Windows 7 embedded that is clearly designed to be used in slate devices and other handheld gadget. There are not a lot of technical details about Windows Embedded Compact 7 (catchy name, no?) available, but it seems to be a compartmentalized version of Windows 7 that can be embedded at the hardware level for handheld gadgets.

The company is touting the multitouch natural interface that supports panning and pinch zooming. The full desktop browsing experience is also plugged by Microsoft that extends to Silverlight and Flash 10.1 support. A fast track to market for new devices is part of the pitch for the new OS, along with the natural development for apps using Visual Studio.

It is going to be interesting to watch this new embedded OS unfold, and it is clear that Microsoft is going to put some effort behind getting it on partner devices. The impressive display of prototype tablets running it at Computex is evidence of that. Microsoft clearly has the ability to pull this off, and it is good to see them move forward with this effort. It is a bit strange to hear them talk about this “emerging tablet” market, having played in it for years.

Image credit: Engadget

Related research on GigaOM Pro (sub. req’d): How Microsoft Can Win Back the Tablet Market

7 Responses to “Microsoft Launches Windows Embedded Compact 7 for Tablets”

  1. This has the WP7 fanboys in a bit of an uproar, hoping as they were, that their favorite non-shipping OS would be Microsoft’s choice for tablets, pads, slates, whatever.

    This announcement is another symptom of an advanced disease that’s rotting Microsoft from the inside out. They’ve had it for years: vertical silos. The company has become bureaucratic and compartmentalized with product groups in a cutthroat competition with one another. That’s why Microsoft will end up with three non-complimentary (four if you count the Kin) products in the space: Windows 7 for Notebooks and Netbooks, WEC7 for tablets, and WP7 for phones. It’ll take a strong hand to bring order to this chaos. Does anyone think Ballmer is the man for the job?

    And one more thing …

    “It is going to be interesting to watch this new embedded OS unfold, and it is clear that Microsoft is going to put some effort behind getting it on partner devices. The impressive display of prototype tablets running it at Computex is evidence of that. Microsoft clearly has the ability to pull this off…”

    I need a little help here. Microsoft does pull off impressive displays at trade shoes. The HP Slate is still fresh on my mind from CES and Steve’s keynote. But what ability do you refer to and what has Microsoft pulled off lately in the mobile space?

  2. There seems to be a lot of confusion on this one.
    From their download page it looks like the next rev of CE – Not Windows Embedded (which is a cut down version of windows). Silverlight support is actually a version of “Silverlight for Embedded” – which is a C++ version of Silverlight 2. Not compatible with real Silverlight at all.

    Still no app store. No integration with Windows Phone (which does support Silverlight – albeit still v.3). No task oriented shell. The only way to write apps with .NET would be to use the compact framework with the old school windows mobile 6.5 controls !

    I still see no real strategy here from the top.

  3. Nameless

    It appears to be derived from Windows CE, not Windows 7 (closer to NT).

    I just hope that they can bring Win7’s handwriting recognition engine and Ink library over, because a tablet just isn’t a tablet without inking!

  4. Scotty

    Apparently its out as a demo download now. As anyone whom has used the touch enabled Pages will tell you Microsoft is going to have to do more than throw a carbon copy of the iPad home screen up to get this puppy usable.

  5. My beef with Windows Mobile has always been that core apps were put on the ROM so you had to buy a new device to get an update. I like the iPhone/iPad app model so much better, plus I like Apple’s history of sending out firmware updates vs. just making you buy a new device.

    • Nameless

      That was a big problem (even moreso on Palm OS), but thankfully, we have xda-developers willing to cook new ROMs for our devices. I think the blame lies more on MS’s partners for not bothering to release ROM updates instead of new devices. (But in the cases of Pocket PC 2002 requiring an ARM CPU where past versions supported MIPS and SH3, and Windows Mobile 5’s persistent storage system favoring NAND over NOR, there wasn’t much of a choice…)

      What I can’t stand even more is Apple’s walled garden, less robust apps (iWork on iPad has nothing on SoftMaker Office for WM, for starters), and general lack of customization, even with jailbreaking.

      Unfortunately, I’m currently left with no particularly good alternatives to WM at the moment…