On June 1, Microsoft made available to anyone interested a public test build of its Windows Embedded Compact 7 operating system, the product codenamed "Chelan."
Embedded Compact 7 has been the subject of more-than-usual scrutiny, in that there have been reports that it will be the core of the Windows Phone OS 7.0 operating system that will power Windows Phone 7 devices. (Last I heard from Microsoft, officials were denying that Compact 7 will be at the heart of the first generation of Windows Phone 7 devices, in spite of statements by some Microsoft employees that claimed this would be the case. Still not clear on why the Softies are continuing to fan the flames of confusion due to unnecessary secrecy in this matter...)
The new Community Technology Preview (CTP) of Windows Embedded Compact 7 is downloadable from Microsoft's Web site.
Microsoft's positioning of Embedded Compact 7 is somewhat confusing, in my opinion. Via the WMPowerUser.com site:
"With the release of Windows Embedded Compact 7, Microsoft Windows Embedded is taking another innovative step forward by bringing the power of Windows 7 across another family of specialized devices, such as slates, portable media players and others."
I say confusing because Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, when asked recently whether Microsoft might be backing the use of its Windows Phone OS (which is CE at its heart, remember) on tablets, denied that was part of Microsoft's plan. Ballmer said that Windows 7 is Microsoft's tablet-OS play, not any embedded or mobile-centric version of Windows. Yes, there is nothing (as far as I know) to stop any interested Microsoft OEM from building a tablet/slate that would run Embedded Compact and/or the Windows Phone OS as its operating system. But it seems Microsoft won't be pushing anything but Windows 7 as the best operating system for all PCs -- tablets and slates included.
Anyway, back to Embedded Compact 7. There's still no word as to when that product will be released to manufacturing.
Update: The Microsoft press release says Windows Embedded Compact 7 won't be released to manufacturing until the fourth quarter of this year.
(And that's why Microsoft seems to be counting on the currently shipping Windows Embedded CE 6 R3 as the core for Windows Phone OS 7. The Windows Phone OS 7 is at final Release Candidate/escrow stage and should RTM very soon.)
WMPowerUser lists some of the new features of Compact 7. Among them:
- An update to the mobile version of IE that
- Microsoft Exchange 2010 AirSync or Exchange Server support
- Inclusion of Microsoft OFfice and Adobe PDF viewers
- Support for Windows 7 Device Stage for transferring files between Windows 7 PCs and portable devices
- Support for Platform Builder, Visual Studio, Expression Blend and Silverlight for building new apps and devloping "customized and branded experiences on the device or outside of the browser"
- Support for multicore and "the latest ARM-based architecture"
If Windows Embedded Compact 7 is, indeed, not at the heart of Windows Phone OS 7, I'm interested how and whether Microsoft plans to update the first-generation devices that will be based on an older version of the company's Compact operating system....