Microsoft announced the release to manufacturing April 27 of its Windows Embedded Standard 7, which allows manufacturers to utilize Windows 7-based components for the creation of specialized devices such as industry-specific handhelds. The company had originally released a beta of the platform under the name Windows Embedded Standard 2011 in September 2009.
"With the release of Windows Embedded Standard 7, Microsoft has furthered its commitment to the integration of Windows 7 technologies in the specialized consumer and enterprise device markets by providing OEMs with the latest innovative technologies," Kevin Dallas, Microsoft's general manager of the Windows Embedded Business Unit, said in an April 27 statement. "The addition of the Windows Media Center feature in Windows Embedded Standard 7 is driving the set-top box, connected media device and TV markets by providing OEMs with opportunities to develop uniquely branded experiences and service providers with capabilities to explore additional revenue streams with unique content through a centralized media hub in the home."
In addition to televisions, STBs (set-top boxes) and CMDs (connected media devices), Microsoft intends for Windows Embedded Standard 7 to be used in thin clients, digital signage and industrial controls for the enterprise. A few companies, including Hewlett-Packard, YCD Multimedia and DT Research, have already begun issuing devices built on the platform.
"Through Windows Embedded, we provide high-performance and reliable platforms that help OEMs deliver specialized devices with rich user experiences and seamless connections to the world of Windows," Steve Guggenheimer, corporate vice president of Microsoft's OEM division, wrote in an April 26 post on The Official Microsoft Blog. "These embedded technologies fill the gap between phones and PCs for a world of specialized commercial devices, such as thin clients and industrial controllers, as well as consumer Internet devices (CIDs) and other emerging categories for consumers."
Guggenheimer added, "This dynamic market is expected to reach more than 16 billion embedded devices this year and exceed 40 billion by 2020, according to Artemis Embedded Computing Initiative."
Originally code-named Quebec during its development, Windows Embedded Standard 7-back when it was still Windows Embedded Standard 2011-was originally supposed to rely on the Windows Vista platform, at least until executives decided to shift the company's ecosystem to Windows 7. The platform's features include support for 64-bit CPUs, Windows Aero user interface, Windows Presentation Foundation, Windows Touch (multigesture touch interfaces and context-aware applications) and Windows Flip 3D navigation.
Windows Embedded Standard 7 will be available for download at an as-yet-unannounced point within next few days; an e-mail alert for its release can be signed up for here.