Microsoft announces tablet OS dubbed Windows Embedded Compact 7

Windows Embedded Compact 7

In keeping with their tradition of confusingly long names for portable products (remember Windows Phone 7 Series?), Microsoft has announced their intentions of bringing Windows 7 to the tablet, as well as other handheld devices. Announced at Computex, Windows Embedded Compact 7, according to jkOnTheRun, will be a "compartmentalized version of Windows 7 that can be embedded at the hardware level."

Apparently, this flavor of the Windows operating system is primed with a multitouch interface that supports panning and pinch to zoom. Not only that, but Microsoft says that it will run the full desktop browser experience, Flash, Silverlight, and all. It will also feature seamless integration with Windows 7. Microsoft will be pumping this new OS out to the market at an accelerated pace.

A Public Community Technology Preview has been made available on Microsoft's website. Videos showcasing the operating system's connected experiences, rich user experiences, and platform reliability are up and ready for your viewing pleasure. Below are the features Microsoft is promoting (quoted directly from their site):

Seamless connectivity
Get the technologies you need to seamlessly connect to rich media, online services, Windows PCs, smartphones, and other handheld devices.

Connect and consume rich media

  • Simplify media management with new Media Library
  • Richer media streaming with updated MPEG-4 and HD support
  • Flexible plugin architecture to support third-party content

Seamless connection to Microsoft Windows 7

  • Simplify device management with integrated Windows Device Stage
  • Synchronize data and media with support for MTP

Connect to Office and personal information

  • Updated Office viewers
  • Updated AirSync and Microsoft Exchange support
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72 Comments

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Saul Goodman said,
Again I'll wait for this to be in a product I can actually purchase before getting excited.

Yeah, plus we have to see what OEM's do with it too... Should be interesting.

cleverclogs said,
Just out of interest, do these embedded editions still get viruses?

It's firmware... as the term "embedded" implies.

Microsoft needs to come up with a Metro UI which runs on top of this embedded OS, which could give tablets a consistent UI designed for touch, rather than leave it to OEMs.

martinDTanderson said,
Microsoft needs to come up with a Metro UI which runs on top of this embedded OS, which could give tablets a consistent UI designed for touch, rather than leave it to OEMs.

Agree. That's pretty much the entire problem of OEM devices now, is their crap software that runs on top.

martinDTanderson said,
Microsoft needs to come up with a Metro UI which runs on top of this embedded OS, which could give tablets a consistent UI designed for touch, rather than leave it to OEMs.

+1 i've been saying this for some time now

martinDTanderson said,
Microsoft needs to come up with a Metro UI which runs on top of this embedded OS, which could give tablets a consistent UI designed for touch, rather than leave it to OEMs.

Probably, just like they should create a Metro UI layer for Win7 for tablets based on it.

The Surface R&D technologies are a good example of a custom UI sitting on Win7 that work exactly for the purpose of the device without the users having to see the base OS unless they want to.

martinDTanderson said,
Microsoft needs to come up with a Metro UI which runs on top of this embedded OS, which could give tablets a consistent UI designed for touch, rather than leave it to OEMs.

Yeah, or the Courier OS (Which I'm sure was running on top of something like this). Microsoft needs to do something with that...

Luis Mazza said,
It is just impressive how Microsoft is incredibly able to create gigantic and HORRIBLE product names.

Not all of Microsoft. Just some of those product managers.

The most important thing about this OS you all are missing is that it was made to run on ARM processors (Asus eee tablet 10" will use it on Tegra 2). While Windows 7 Premium will continue to be used on Intel processed tablets (Asus eee tablet 12" will run Win 7 Premium on a Intel culv chip)

sviola said,
The most important thing about this OS you all are missing is that it was made to run on ARM processors (Asus eee tablet 10" will use it on Tegra 2). While Windows 7 Premium will continue to be used on Intel processed tablets (Asus eee tablet 12" will run Win 7 Premium on a Intel culv chip)

Not really. Windows Embedded CE 6.0 runs on ARM, x86, SH4 and MIPS processor architectures.

I'm confused by the name hate. Windows Embedded is a family of products, one of which is Compact. This is version 7. Microsoft is all about tiered products, so this doesn't fit into some sort of bad habit of long names, and saying such accomplishes nothing but make the author of the article seem like he's taking uninformed pot shots at MS, and everyone else just looking plain uninformed, as if Balmer rubbed his chin in a meeting one day and said "Ah hah! It shall be called Windows Embedded Compact 7!"

Hell, it's not like this is something you can buy off the shelves, so it doesn't need some grand marketed name.

Joshie said,
I'm confused by the name hate. Windows Embedded is a family of products, one of which is Compact. This is version 7. Microsoft is all about tiered products, so this doesn't fit into some sort of bad habit of long names, and saying such accomplishes nothing but make the author of the article seem like he's taking uninformed pot shots at MS, and everyone else just looking plain uninformed, as if Balmer rubbed his chin in a meeting one day and said "Ah hah! It shall be called Windows Embedded Compact 7!"

Hell, it's not like this is something you can buy off the shelves, so it doesn't need some grand marketed name.

Exactly. I agree.

And yet, still rule the PC world with 90+% market share...

Maybe, just maybe the OEM internal use only name doesn't really matter to the consumers, since it'll be rebranded at release?

Hopefully they will change it as they did with phone series, for the time being as developers are the only people aware of this it doesn't matter

The name of this OS is irrelevant. People who buy these tablets will never know the name of the underlying OS, because manufacturers are supposed to put their custom shell on top anyways.

Bern@rd said,
The name of this OS is irrelevant. People who buy these tablets will never know the name of the underlying OS, because manufacturers are supposed to put their custom shell on top anyways.

Exactly. And they'll probably be Silverlight based from the looks of it, thus gpu accelerated.

Actually I don't think this is a tablet OS. Really its just a new release of what was called Windows CE. Its version 7 of what Windows Phone 7 (Embedded CE 6.0 R3) is based on, which MS has said won't be used for tablets.

SharpGreen said,
Actually I don't think this is a tablet OS. Really its just a new release of what was called Windows CE. Its version 7 of what Windows Phone 7 (Embedded CE 6.0 R3) is based on, which MS has said won't be used for tablets.

That's be Windows Phone 7 is more than just CE6.0 R3. That's at the core yes but there's all the "Phone" stuff on top, like the Metro UI. The same thing with CE7, now Compact 7. MS won't stop a OEM (like Asus is doing) to license Compact 7 and use it for a tablet. All MS said is that they're not going to (for now) move Windows Phone 7 to a tablet since it's made for a Smartphone really.

SharpGreen said,
Actually I don't think this is a tablet OS. Really its just a new release of what was called Windows CE.

You do realize that when WinCE was first designed back in 1996 it was for tablet and touch devices like PDAs and tablets and touch screens, as well as devices like routers and embedded devices? This is why it ALWAYS has had ink, touch, and pen support.

I'm sorry but I was in my attic and saw a box for an HP palmtop that I used back in '99 and I thought to myself, will Microsoft ever make a successful tablet and laughed for a good minute or more. Good luck Microsoft fans. They approach it from the wrong angle or maybe they are too big to keep things simple. Replace the shell, don't layer it over top is what I'm saying.....

crazyfish said,
I'm sorry but I was in my attic and saw a box for an HP palmtop that I used back in '99 and I thought to myself, will Microsoft ever make a successful tablet and laughed for a good minute or more. Good luck Microsoft fans. They approach it from the wrong angle or maybe they are too big to keep things simple. Replace the shell, don't layer it over top is what I'm saying.....

While I think Compact 7 comes with the basic "classic" windows shell, it's not installed/used unless you want it to. It's up to the OEM to "replace the shell" or just make a layer on top. The whole point of this OS is that it's up to the OEMs to customize as they want/need.

So what software can it run?
They could really do with releasing a version of Office for it, not just "updated office viewers".

acnpt said,
So what software can it run?
They could really do with releasing a version of Office for it, not just "updated office viewers".

There's already an Office for CE. I'm guessing there will be a new build for this version.

acnpt said,
So what software can it run?
They could really do with releasing a version of Office for it, not just "updated office viewers".

Viewers aside you should be able to use Office Web through the browser just as well. But they could release the Office mobile apps for this later on.

acnpt said,
So what software can it run?
They could really do with releasing a version of Office for it, not just "updated office viewers".

Yeah, that would be nice.

dimithrak said,
Microsofts product naming manager should be shot! lol

Why? Like my post a bit up says, there's more than one Windows Embedded. And the two differ to the point that you need a speicifc name for each. There's Embedded standard and then there's Compact. Standard comes with a bit more elements/modules as well.

dimithrak said,
Microsofts product naming manager should be shot! lol

I agree, the name they chose for this version is horrendous.

I don't think its a big deal. The box on store shelves will likely say "runs Windows" or whatever on it. Still a crap name but I doubt it'll show up in marketing.

This is pretty awesome, honestly. Having silverlight and flash built right in, and the ability for manufacturers to have their own interface, while still allowing developers to essentially code for a ton of devices.

Ayepecks said,
This is pretty awesome, honestly. Having silverlight and flash built right in, and the ability for manufacturers to have their own interface, while still allowing developers to essentially code for a ton of devices.

I think the ability to let manufacturers make their own interfaces is a TERRIBLE idea. MS needs to take their Metro UI as the base of this device, and let third parties make apps for it, and put in an app store. I have yet to see any third party, especially ones in japan/china/taiwan, make an interface that didnt make me want to puke.

Ryanlm said,

I think the ability to let manufacturers make their own interfaces is a TERRIBLE idea. MS needs to take their Metro UI as the base of this device, and let third parties make apps for it, and put in an app store. I have yet to see any third party, especially ones in japan/china/taiwan, make an interface that didnt make me want to puke.

Sure, MS could make a Metro UI for tablets (and not just slap the WP7 version on it which would work as well but why not take advantage of the extra screen more), but then OEMs will lose out one more area where they can stand out compared to the rest.

Specs and pricing will be pretty much the same from one 10" tablet to the next so what better way to draw buyers if not with a nice custom UI? I think it's good to have the option for OEMs who want to do that to be able to. We could very well see a "Metro for Tablets" UI next year though, it wouldn't surprise me.

GP007 said,

Sure, MS could make a Metro UI for tablets (and not just slap the WP7 version on it which would work as well but why not take advantage of the extra screen more), but then OEMs will lose out one more area where they can stand out compared to the rest.

Specs and pricing will be pretty much the same from one 10" tablet to the next so what better way to draw buyers if not with a nice custom UI? I think it's good to have the option for OEMs who want to do that to be able to. We could very well see a "Metro for Tablets" UI next year though, it wouldn't surprise me.

Personally I am very happy using W7 64 on my aging Toshiba M400 Tablet so I do not see the need of a "Compact OS". at least not for a "Real" Tablet PC. It might make sense for a some kind of crippled device a la iPad though but not sure.
As for allowing OEMs to customize the GUI I have two probles with idea: first it is the opposite of what MS is doing with WP7 and this seems quite schizophrenic. Second I remember when, in mid 90's, a lot of OEM were using 'Custom Desktop" for their PCs; it was not a succesfull idea and if MS is going to allow this again at least they should give customers the option to revert to a standard desktop GUI.

Edited by Fritzly, Jun 2 2010, 8:52pm : Grammar

GP007 said,

Sure, MS could make a Metro UI for tablets (and not just slap the WP7 version on it which would work as well but why not take advantage of the extra screen more), but then OEMs will lose out one more area where they can stand out compared to the rest.

Specs and pricing will be pretty much the same from one 10" tablet to the next so what better way to draw buyers if not with a nice custom UI? I think it's good to have the option for OEMs who want to do that to be able to. We could very well see a "Metro for Tablets" UI next year though, it wouldn't surprise me.

Lets be honest here, that is exactly what the PC market has been for years. At least you have a base of windows, then the OEM installs gigs of crapware and custom themes, and the first thing any self respecting computer user does is uninstall or better format that box to turn it into a normal computer.

Hardware people need to focus on making good sexy hardware - thats it.

These devices need to be "pickup and use" not "pickup, figure out Asus's or Hp's or Bob's UI, and muddle through". Seriously have you seen the mobile phone market? crap UI after crap UI. Apple comes out with a good one, on good hardware and boom mass appeal. Its rather plain and boring (when you think of it, the OSX Phone UI is simple) but people get it.

Edited by Ryanlm, Jun 2 2010, 9:55pm :

Fritzly said,

Personally I am very happy using W7 64 on my aging Toshiba M400 Tablet so I do not see the need of a "Compact OS". at least not for a "Real" Tablet PC. It might make sense for a some kind of crippled device a la iPad though but not sure.
As for allowing OEMs to customize the GUI I have two probles with idea: first it is the opposite of what MS is doing with WP7 and this seems quite schizophrenic. Second I remember when, in mid 90's, a lot of OEM were using 'Custom Desktop" for their PCs; it was not a succesfull idea and if MS is going to allow this again at least they should give customers the option to revert to a standard desktop GUI.

And I use it on my aging M200 and love it as well.

GP007 said,

Sure, MS could make a Metro UI for tablets (and not just slap the WP7 version on it which would work as well but why not take advantage of the extra screen more), but then OEMs will lose out one more area where they can stand out compared to the rest.

Specs and pricing will be pretty much the same from one 10" tablet to the next so what better way to draw buyers if not with a nice custom UI? I think it's good to have the option for OEMs who want to do that to be able to. We could very well see a "Metro for Tablets" UI next year though, it wouldn't surprise me.

Yeah, I agree with you. I have to say though that I was a little disappointed when I read the article, as I thought maybe this was about the Courier OS... *sigh*

s3n4te said,
Will this work with my Tablet PC?

Only if you can build your own UI and compile it in Visual Studio. Also don't forget you need to make drivers as well. So no. Compact 7 is as bare bones of an OS as you can get for Windows. It's up to hardware makers to mold it to fit their hardwares needs.