Where's Microsoft's 'lucky 7' release of Windows Embedded Compact?

Where's Microsoft's 'lucky 7' release of Windows Embedded Compact?

Summary: Late last year, Microsoft officials said that the latest version of its Windows Embedded Compact 7 operating system was running slightly behind schedule and would be out in the first quarter of 2011. It looks like like that date might be pushed back again, based on some updated information.

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Late last year, Microsoft officials said that the latest version of its Windows Embedded Compact 7 operating system was running slightly behind schedule and would be out in the first quarter of 2011. It looks like like that date might be pushed back again, based on some updated information.

Windows Embedded Compact 7, codenamed "Chelan," is the successor to Windows CE. The Embedded Compact operating system runs on x86, ARM and MIPS processors, and is the core platform upon which Microsoft builds its Windows Phone 7 and Zune HD products. (Many had expected Windows Embedded Compact 7 to be the core upon which Microsoft built the Windows Phone 7 OS, but that didn't end up happening.) Microsoft licenses the Embedded Compact 7 to a number of OEMs, including several tablet/slate makers, to use as the operating system in their devices.

As Geeksmack.net noted, Microsoft is making a January refresh of the public Community Technology Preview (CTP) build of Embedded Compact 7 available to testers by end of day on January 27.

But during a Web chat on January 25, D'Arcy Salzmann, Product Manager for Compact 7 and CE products, mentioned April/May 2011 as the new Embedded Compact 7 target date, when asked by a chat participant about Microsoft's plans for the platform. Here's the exchange from the chat:

Q: [17] future of CE: when MS announced at CES about W8 pointed to tablet-pc based on ARM CPU did it shrink (or close) CE roadmap?

A (Salzmann): Hi, thanks for your question regarding Windows on ARM. With Compact 7 about to release and another Compact release in the pipeline in the April-May 2011 timeframe, the Compact roadmap hasn't changed. The planning for Compact v.next has just started and we have a team of engineers working on the next product. We have a long history of using assets from the Windows client team, and since the announcement just came out at CES we're starting the investigation of how (and when) Windows on ARM will become part of the embedded portfolio and we'll have more to say in the future. The Compact product line is Microsoft's solution for small footprint embedded devices.

I asked company officials for a little clarification as to how many Windows Embedded Compact 7 releases Microsoft is planning for this year, as Salzmann's answer left me confused as to whether there would be one or two. I was told, via a spokesperson: “Windows Embedded Compact 7 remains in the pipeline for early this year. The discussion around timing pertains to different SKUs and relates to customer licensing, not separate products.”

Earlier this month, Microsoft listed as March 15 the RTM date for Windows Embedded Compact 7 on its Lifecycle Support page. Microsoft  has removed that information from the page.

Windows Embedded Compact 7 is one of a handful of Microsoft products using "7" as part of their names. Besides Windows 7,  there also is Windows Embedded Standard 7, Windows Embedded Automotive 7, Windows Embedded POSReady 7 and more.

Among the new features in Embedded Compact 7 are Silverlight for Windows Embedded; updated support for tabs, pan and zoom; support for Flash 10.1 (listed as "coming soon"); the ability to connect to Windows 7 using Windows Device Stage; the ability to consume rich media with a new library manager and support for rich HD media streaming; and support for ARM v7, SMP and hardware graphics acceleration.

Topics: Operating Systems, Hardware, Microsoft, Mobility, Processors, Software, Windows

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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12 comments
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  • Just got notice today....

    ..of the refreshed beta. Dunno if I really care much about it though. It still has the [Win]95-style UI to it, which is why they recommend OEM's skin it with Expression Design/Blend based UI. The problem is that there aren't enough OEM's that will build a comprehensive ecosystem as well as back it up with a considerable support period where it isn't just wiped out and restarted in the next hardware refresh. Most just want to build the device, clear out stock, and create something new and different the next time around without dealing with "user experiences" and such for the long haul.
    Joe_Raby
    • Since they missed the ship date of WP7 ...

      I guess they just pushed it down a little further to make it more robust when it finally releases.
      LBiege
  • RE: Where's Microsoft's 'lucky 7' release of Windows Embedded Compact?

    Actually Windows Phone 7 may be based on Embedded Compact 7 as some settings on WP7 devices suggest that it is built on an early build of CE7. I am not sure if embedded editions of Windows will survice another 5 years as very small devices are getting the capabilities to run Windows 8.
    Maybe we will see a roadmapoon for how the many versions of Windows will fit into the Microsoft eco-system and whether it will be scaled down to 2 or 1 variations of Windows.
    windowsphonepro
    • RE: Where's Microsoft's 'lucky 7' release of Windows Embedded Compact?

      @windowsphonepro

      WP7 is based on CE.Net 6.x. It is heavily customized, of course, but then, so are most devices built on CE. CE is about as close to an open-source OS as Microsoft has right now - it's streamlined to work on many devices, albeit with reduced functionality over a commercial desktop OS, is inexpensive from a licensing standpoint, and includes a high level of extensibility (for OEM customization). It also falls under a shared-source code agreement - Microsoft maintains copyrights on the lines of code, as well as patents, but licensees are covered under IP litigation protection, can modify certain aspects of code, and maintain rights on new code concepts. It's a good package for OEM's, but it isn't designed as a general purpose OS, nor is it designed to be run by an end user with the current out-of-box experience.
      Joe_Raby
      • RE: Where's Microsoft's 'lucky 7' release of Windows Embedded Compact?

        @Joe_Raby - Spot-on Joe. You should work in WinCE Marketing - that's perhaps the most succinct description of WinCE I've seen in some time ;)
        bitcrazed
    • RE: Where's Microsoft's 'lucky 7' release of Windows Embedded Compact?

      @windowsphonepro - I fully expect WinCE7 to be the last major release of the Windows CE lineage. They may drag it out for one more release in order to satisfy any contractual obligations they may have, but I fully expect Microsoft to replace the WindowsCE-derived OS line with Windows Embedded based on the new Win8 kernel & OS.
      bitcrazed
  • Embedded Handheld 7

    MJ, any word on when embedded handheld 7 is planned for release and what features it will have? I know its built on top of embedded compact 7 so that's why I'm asking.

    From what I've heard from local MS evangelists, they haven't seen anything in the release schedule, but since they're so far down the chain of command, I figure that maybe their access isn't high enough to know.
    joshua.barker@...
    • RE: Where's Microsoft's 'lucky 7' release of Windows Embedded Compact?

      +1 on the question of where their at with windows embedded handheld 7... This is probably the second biggest embedded market outside of WP7 and I haven't seen a word mentioned about it from Microsoft since it's name change back in June.
      bevcat
  • I don't know why MJ, but I laughed when you wrote...

    ...Windows Embedded POSReady 7 and more
    Mr. Dee
    • MaryJo in innocent here, POS = Point of Sale.

      Nothing more . . . .<br><br>Oh, also from Sarah Palin, WTF = Win the Future.
      DonnieBoy
  • Sounds like it could be used for slates

    A lot of those new features would line it up as a slate to compete with the ipad.
    rmark@...
  • RE: Where's Microsoft's 'lucky 7' release of Windows Embedded Compact?

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