Windows 7, Windows Media Center Coming to TV

Dennis Faas's picture

Windows 7 could soon be appearing on television sets and set-top boxes. It's the most high-profile outcome of Microsoft releasing a special edition of the system for standalone devices.

For many years, Microsoft has released a completely separate version of Windows (called "Windows CE") for devices with limited storage space. What Windows CE does is allow small devices to carry out specific tasks without the hardware requirements -- and potential instability -- of a full-blown Windows operating system.

Some examples of technology which use Windows CE are in-flight entertainment screens and information displays.

Windows 7 Adapted For Devices

Similar to Windows CE, Microsoft has now released what it's calling Windows Embedded Standard 7 (version 2011): the latest closest match yet of the full version of Windows 7. (Source:

There are several Windows 7-specific features in the embedded version -- such as touch screen control systems and power management tools -- but the biggest development is the inclusion of Windows Media Center. That's the application which debuted with Vista and is specially designed to bring media files, online video and the content from TV-tuner cards together in one central application.

Windows 7 on HDTV

Microsoft believes manufacturers will find it much easier to build Windows Media Center directly into TV sets and set-top boxes. The theory is that this would reduce the need for users to run lengthy cables, set up wireless networks or have PCs running besides the TV set. It will also mean viewers can use an interface which, at the very least, is familiar to many Windows users. (Source:

According to Microsoft, having TVs and boxes built on Windows Embedded Standard 7 running 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." (Source:

The question now is whether the move is too late given the range of rival systems for set-top boxes (particularly those offering online movie rentals) and the fact that many people have bought new HDTVs as part of the digital switchover and may be less likely to buy a replacement.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet