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Microsoft Releases Windows Embedded Compact 7

Windows Embedded Compact 7, Microsoft's latest compact componentized operating system for device manufacturers, was released on Tuesday.

Based on Microsoft's flagship Windows 7 OS, Windows Embedded Compact 7 is the successor to Windows CE 6.0. However, Microsoft's embedded OSes are maintained in a separate code base from the company's OSes for PCs.

This release comes about a month after Microsoft refreshed its community technology preview of Windows Embedded Compact 7 in late January. The OS will be of interest mostly to original equipment manufacturers and independent software developers creating products for various home and industrial device markets. Products that might use Windows Embedded Compact 7 include barcode scanners, GPS navigation equipment, kiosks, electronic readers, gaming devices and video set-top boxes, among others.

The 32-bit OS, designed for ARM-based processors, can be crammed down to a footprint as small as 500 kilobytes. It has a 10-year product lifecycle and runs 32-bit Windows applications, with built-in viewer support for Adobe Flash 10.1 and "Microsoft Office 97, 2000, 2003, XP & 2007," according to Microsoft's description.

The new features in Windows Embedded Compact 7 include the Silverlight for Windows Embedded Framework, based on Silverlight 3.0, which enables developers to create user interfaces via Microsoft Expression Blend. Interfaces such as touch, multitouch and gesture are supported.

Embedded Internet Explorer is included, based on the core IE code used in Windows Phone 7. The association with the Windows phone likely means that Windows Embedded Compact 7 will include IE 9 browser technology. Microsoft explained last month that Windows phones will use the same basic IE 9 browsing engine that's used on PCs.

Connections with other devices are enabled with the Connection Manager and Windows Device Stage in Windows Embedded Compact 7. Remote synchronization of content, calendars and e-mail data is enabled via Microsoft's AirSync technology. The cloud connectivity capability can enable greater personalization on devices for things like digital patient records, according to D'Arcy Salzmann, product manager of Windows Embedded Compact 7, in a Microsoft-produced video. Hewlett-Packard and Wyse Technology are two of the OEMs named by Microsoft that are building thin clients running Windows Embedded Compact 7 that will leverage the Internet cloud for more interactive user experiences.

Another Microsoft partner, Beckhoff Automation, has created a robot built on Windows Embedded Standard 7. The handheld touch-screen control device for the robot is based on Microsoft's Windows Embedded Compact 7. Microsoft is also partnering with OEMs NEC and Siemens on the new compact OS. At the chip level, Microsoft is working with OEMs Intel, Freescale and Texas Instruments, according to its announcement.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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