New Version of Windows 7 Released … For the TV?

Do you have a PC hooked up to a TV in your house? I have one in my bedroom and my wife hates it, but tolerates it because it allows us to watch Hulu and other online TV shows that we may have missed. If Microsoft has its way, my wife may get hers too. Both of them want a better solution for the TV-computer connection. Microsoft’s solution is to embed Windows 7 Media Center in televisions. Very recently, they released a version of the embedded OS to manufacturers.

Besides the obvious media watching capability, there is a web browser and specialized apps developed in Silverlight. These can come from manufacturers or other sources. And, the manufacturer can customize the interface putting their branding on the Media Center OS. The basics of the interface will remain the same with the menus staying put. But things like font, backgrounds, and putting their logo can change, according to Irena Andonova, the director of product management for Windows Embedded 7 at Microsoft (via Betanews).

The reason a manufacturer can embed the OS is Microsoft is allowing them to specialize the installation for their hardware. There will not be a slew of drivers and included pieces of software. That way the manufacturer has just one video driver and one driver for their own input devices. And if they don’t think you need Notepad or Sticky Notes on your TV they can remove them as well. This sounds like something power users would love to have for their homebuilt PCs or their Notebooks leaving a lean and possibly fast version of Windows. See details check out the technical specs page at Microsoft.

The first manufacturer on board with the new OS is Reycom, a Swiss manufacturer. Below is their movie library” page in the new OS.

Customizable screen from Windows Media Center in Windows Embedded Standard 7.

Others that may want to use the OS are cable and satellite TV providers as well as phone companies that have multimedia services. They can create web apps on top of the OS which gives them a way to change quickly without having to change the embedded firmware. The apps will run on top of the extensible embedded OS. Like we have come to expect the OS has a long horrible name Windows Embedded Standard 7. It will be interesting to see if any other manufacturers will include this in future TVs. Until then my wife will just have to put up with the PC hooked up to the bedroom TV so she can watch missed shows on hulu.

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