Microsoft believes that the tipping point for online devices has been reached, insisting that people are now increasingly looking for gadgets that can share information not only with each other, but across the internet.
Kevin Dallas – the general manager of the Windows Embedded business unit – is part of a team that is looking to the next generation of online gadgets, which have been labelled by Microsoft as 'consumer internet devices' (CID).
These devices are not just limited to portable media players and MIDs but also things like eBooks, picture frames, networked TVs, sat-navs and even household appliances.
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"This is the tipping point," Dallas told TechRadar. "This is the wave of the embedded internet.
"In the past, the majority of the access was people driven and we're now entering a stage where the embedded internet devices exceed the number of people accessing the internet.
"Perhaps the technology wasn't there in the past, but now if you look at consumer devices they have powerful CPUs, the graphics capability is now phenomenal and connectivity is something that users are much more comfortable with."
Pace of innovation
Dallas believes that manufacturers are racing to provide CIDs, with devices that traditionally stand alone being adapted to incorporate the stream of information from the internet.
"I've just come from Asia and it's really interesting to see the pace of innovation," added Dallas
"I met with OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) in Beijing in China and it's interesting to see that a lot of our customers are building stand alone devices to take advantage of the wave of these consumer internet devices that are being developed.
"The OEMs are taking existing lines of product and adding internet connectivity in order to allow these connected experiences."
Man as hub
Dallas believes that the majority of the tech savvy take for granted that they act as the central point of connection for their devices, and that it would be easier if devices talked to each other.
"It's a fundamental problem today – that you or I don't mind acting as the central hub to transfer information between our devices.
"You get an address in your emails and then you have to transition it over to your car and its sat-nav, but the reality is that that should be much easier – you should say which devices share that information. That's the shift that presently going on."
Not computers, devices
Dallas feels that there is no space between netbooks and smartphones for another 'general computing device ' but that it will be everyday tools that benefit from embedded internet.
"You have your netbook PC on which people expect a PC-like experience and you have smartphones which are also starting to go that way and outside of those two it's hard to see another general computing experience," said Dallas.
"We are looking at other devices that we use today; these are existing devices that are simply going to be internet connected."
Windows 7 Embedded arriving
The next iteration of Windows Embedded will be based on Windows 7, and should arrive a matter of weeks after the main OS is released in October with Dallas commenting: "We need to have a Windows 7 solution for a lot of the enterprise market."
"It's coming at around the same time, probably a couple of months after for logistic reasons."