Microsoft fires Windows Embedded straight at Chrome OS

Microsoft has big plans for its littlest OS. In the shiniest of Redmond’s dreams Windows Embedded – the stripped-back operating system previously known as Windows CE – will find its way onto everything from smartbooks to pocket-sized ‘consumer Internet devices’ GPS systems media players and even set-top boxes.

Many of these run on ARM and MIPS processors instead of Intel’s x86-based silicon and all of them favour Linux as their OS of choice.

The current hot topic of ‘smartbooks’ for instance describes a melding of smartphones and netbooks – compact devices often smaller than the ‘sweet spot’ of today’s 10 inch netbooks running an ARM processor for all-day battery life and fitted with embedded 3G for always on Internet access.

Smartbook manufacturers have already shown great interest in adopting Google’s Android while Intel has its own cadre of companies backing the mobile Internet device (MID) form factor and running the Intel-backed Moblin.

Kevin Dallas General Manager of Microsoft’s Windows Embedded Business Unit says that Windows Embedded allows the company to put a dollar each way.

“A successful software platform must support a large range of processors. ARM has long been one of the prevailing architectures in the embedded industry and Windows Embedded CE can support ARM MIPS and (Intel) x86 natively” Dallas explains in an interview with IDG News Service.

Dallas affirms that Windows 7 is the OS for netbooks or as Microsoft now prefers to call them ‘small notebook PCs’. But Windows Embedded is primed for a different and much broader category of products which the company has christened as ‘consumer Internet devices’ or CIDs.

“CIDs are a broad category of devices that range from smartphones to netbooks such as personal navigation devices portable media players set-top boxes and networked TVs” says Dallas. “We believe that Windows Embedded CE is an ideal platform for CID development.”