We love Windows 7 Media Center, but at the end of the day we'd never give one to our mom and expect it to just work the way an embedded DVR like a TiVo or a Moxi would. But dependability isn't the only concern about using a PC as a DVR, there is noise and how it looks in the living room to consider as well. The compromise before us might just be a thing of the past as Microsoft has announced that Windows 7 Embedded has been released to manufactures and includes many of the great features of the regular Windows 7 family, like Windows Media Center. At this point there aren't any announcements from manufactures leveraging these new found features, but in the press release Microsoft is certainly bolstering the broadcast TV and other media features in a set-top box. AOpen is the only manufacturer mention by name that we're familiar with, which also makes good small-form-factor PCs, but that won't stop us from dreaming of the best, easy to use and dependable whole house DVR ever.
Update: Video of Media Center on an embedded device in action after the jump.
Newly unveiled Windows Media Center feature helps OEMs deliver differentiated connected media, TV and set-top box device experiences with rich user interface capabilities and integrated multimedia.
SAN JOSE, Calif. - April 27, 2010 - Today during an industry address at the Embedded Systems Conference (ESC) Silicon Valley, Microsoft Corp. announced the release to manufacturing of Windows Embedded Standard 7, delivering the power, familiarity and reliability of the Windows 7 operating system in a highly customizable and componentized form. OEMs can leverage Windows Embedded Standard 7 to create differentiated experiences and enhanced connectivity with Windows-based PCs, servers and online services on specialized devices, such as thin clients, digital signage and industrial controls for the enterprise, as well as set-top boxes (STBs), connected media devices (CMDs), and TVs for consumers.
"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 to differentiate through rich, immersive user experiences and streamlined connectivity," said Kevin Dallas, general manager of the Windows Embedded Business Unit at Microsoft. "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."
Announced in September 2009 during the community technology preview, Windows Embedded Standard 7 helps OEMs build enterprise devices with seamless connectivity, allowing companies to extend their existing investments in management and network infrastructure. The platform also features the latest Windows technology innovations to drive rich, immersive user experiences, including multigesture touch interfaces and context-aware applications with Windows Touch, and the ability to develop "green" solutions with smart power management APIs.
In addition to support for enterprise devices, STBs, CMDs and TVs built on Windows Embedded Standard 7 and leveraging the Windows Media Center feature will enable consumers to merge multimedia content from disparate sources, including Internet and broadcast TV, social media portals, and personal libraries of photos, music and videos, into a centralized home entertainment hub. Information can easily be shared across Windows-based PCs and individual devices.
Industry analyst firm Strategy Analytics estimates the potential market opportunity for connected STBs, digital video recorders, digital media adapters and flat-panel TVs to experience annual growth of more than 50 percent through 2014, expanding from 40 million units to more than 360 million. OEMs can take advantage of this opportunity by coupling Windows Media Center and additional features within Windows Embedded Standard 7, such as Windows Defender and Parental Controls for heightened security, to create differentiated consumer entertainment devices with integrated user experiences. This includes leveraging the customizable, extensible platform in Windows Media Center for content, services and applications, as well as powerful backend support for metadata, TV listings and content providers.
For service providers, including cable, telecommunications and satellite operators, STBs and other consumer entertainment devices with Windows Media Center provide opportunities for over-the-top content, incremental services and applications to be delivered directly to consumers, offering opportunities to build new revenue streams. Service providers also can leverage the flexible x86 architecture of Windows Embedded Standard 7, Windows Presentation Foundation, Internet Explorer 8, Windows Media Player 12 and the latest desktop innovations from Microsoft to develop customized user experiences, while ensuring integrated content from the Internet, broadcast TV and personal media through HomeGroup.
Windows Embedded partners and customers already have plans to begin shipping products and solutions for a variety of specialized devices built on the Windows Embedded Standard 7 platform. Examples include AOpen Inc., C-nario, DT Research Inc., Micro Industries Inc. and YCD Multimedia for digital signage; HP and Wyse Technology for thin clients; and Heber Ltd. for industrial control systems.
Steve Guggenheimer, corporate vice president of the Original Equipment Manufacturer Division at Microsoft, shared more insight around recent OEM and partner activities with Windows Embedded Standard 7, the upcoming availability of Microsoft and Intel Corporation's digital signage platform during Screen Media Expo Europe 2010 in London, and Microsoft's commitment to Windows 7-based technologies for specialized devices, in his blog at http://blogs.technet.com/microsoft_blog/archive/2010/04/26/putting-windows-7-technologies-to-work-in-specialized-devices.aspx.