Microsoft taking Windows 7 beyond the PC

Windows 7 logo

Microsoft has released to manufacturers an embedded version of Windows 7 designed to run on TVs, set-top boxes and other non-computing devices.

Windows Embedded Standard 7, previously known by the code name Quebec, was first seen at the ESC Boston show in September last year, while in January, Microsoft collaborated with Intel on a proof-of-concept interactive sign that could recognise users by their physical attributes.

The latest version was shown off at the ESC Silicon Valley conference in San Jose yesterday, with Microsoft claiming the software would pave the way for Windows Media Centre to work with all sorts of new devices, such as TVs and set-top boxes.

"With the release of Windows Embedded Standard 7, Microsoft has furthered its commitment to the integration of Windows 7 technologies in the specialised consumer and enterprise device markets," Microsoft's Kevin Dallas, general manager of the company's Windows Embedded unit, told journalists at the event.

Windows Embedded Standard 7 will only be released to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), and not to the public. It includes Windows Media Centre, Windows Touch and power management APIs, and according to Dallas will allow Windows 7 to become the heartbeat of the digital media network in the home.

"The addition of the Windows Media Centre 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 centralised media hub in the home," Dallas said.

The software was originally planned to be called Windows Embedded Standard 2011, but Microsoft decided to change it slightly to emphasise the close link to Windows 7 itself.

It's a move that certainly makes sense, as Microsoft has announced that Windows 7 has now sold 100 million licences in just six months, making it the fastest-selling version of Windows in history. Its performance has no doubt been helped by the dismal showing of its predecessor, Windows Vista, with many users having opted to avoid Vista altogether and jump straight from Windows XP to the latest OS.