Not to be confused with the full version of Windows 7, Microsoft has just released initial code for Windows Embedded Compact 7. A follow-on from Windows CE, this operating system is handled in a very different way to your standard Windows installation. Instead of essentially the same block of code being used for every system it's installed on, developers are allowed to chop and change which software modules the OS does and doesn't include and even view and edit the source code to make the software fit its purpose in the best way.
What the latest version brings to the party then is a huge amount of tweaked base code; inbuilt support for silverlight, Flash 10.1, Open GL ES 2.0, and the latest ARM v7 CPUs; a customised version of Internet Explorer with multitouch support; the ability to play HD video and integration with Windows 7. The latter is key for ensuring it's really easy to sync whatever device you're using with the various documents and multimedia you have on your PC.
The main aim for this OS is to be used in the fast growing market of portable devices that sit between mobile phones and PCs, which respectively would use Windows Phone 7 and vanilla Windows 7. The most obvious example is tablets, like the Asus Eee Pad, but we also saw versions of it installed on a giant mobile phone type device. It could of course be the perfect partner to whatever products the dual-core Snapdragon finds its way into.
If you're a developer, you can download a trial version of the software now but expect it to be a good while before we start seeing production devices using this new OS. In the mean time, we can all just make do with an iPad, right?