While Microsoft is pushing Windows 7 and its upcoming Windows 8 software as a solution for tablet PCs as well as desktop and notebook computers, the company also has another operating system that seems like a better fit today for tablets, phones, and other low power devices such as set-top-boxes or cash registers. It’s called Windows Embedded Compact 7 and it’s officially available today.
The operating system is designed to function as a core for devices including smartphones, tablets, and even routers. Future versions of Windows Phone will likely be built on top of Windows Embedded Compact 7, for instance.
The latest version of Windows Embedded Compact supports ARM chips as well as x86 and MIPS processors. It features a web browser based on Internet Explorer 7 with some IE7 features. And the OS supports Adobe Flash 10.1 and Microsoft Silverlight.
While Microsoft isn’t really pushing Windows Embedded Compact 7 for consumer tablets, I wouldn’t be surprised if we start to see it pop up on a few while we’re waiting for Windows 8 to hit the streets with support for ARM processors.
On the other hand, Android has come a long way in the past few years, so while I used to see low cost tablets and netbooks running older versions of Windows CE (Compact Edition) on a regular basis, it’s been a while since I’ve seen any products based on that platform. It’s not clear if that’s simply because Windows CE feels so dated, or because manufacturers would rather go with the free and open source Android operating system — which could be an indication that Windows Compact Edition 7 may not gain much traction in the consumer tablet space.