Microsoft to debut Windows for ARM at CES 2011, probably Windows Embedded Compact 7

Bloomberg is reporting that Microsoft will debut a version of Windows for ARM-based devices at CES 2011. The Business Insider has already jumped to the conclusion that it’s a port of Windows 7. I suspect it’s nothing that wasn’t reported six months ago.

Yep, back in June, Microsoft announced that Windows Embedded Compact 7 was coming soon, “expected to be released to manufacturing in the fourth quarter of this year.” Let’s see, a version of Windows being released to manufacturers this quarter, so we’ll see the first prototypes and designs of these devices, oh, about the start of the new year, right?

The OS has been available to developers since then and Microsoft’s videos, all posted on their site, illustrate a definite direction towards tablets. And it can be run on ARM or x86 chips, just like the “new” software reported by Bloomberg. Frankly, if Microsoft doesn’t show off tablets running Windows Embedded Compact 7 at CES, then they’ve seriously missed some goals.

Of course, it’s still exciting that Microsoft will be showing off this version of Windows designed with tablets in mind, but just don’t assume this is a lighter version of Windows 7 that can run your W7 applications. It’s a different platform with a different development environment (which is why it was opened to developers) with “rich user experiences” built using Silverlight for Embedded. The news is reassuring, but there’s no need to go into “wild speculation” mode when there’s established history to back it.

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