Microsoft has unveiled a version of Windows 7 designed specifically for tablets and other specialized devices. The platform, dubbed Windows Embedded Compact 7, is expected to be released to manufacturing in the fourth quarter, but can already be downloaded from Microsoft's Web site in its preview form. Details are a bit slim at the moment, but it seems to be a compartmentalized version of Windows 7 compatible with non-Intel architectures.

Features listed in the official product page include an updated version of Internet Explorer with support for Silverlight and Adobe Flash 10.1, MPEG4 and HD video playback, support for Microsoft Exchange 2010, Microsoft Office and Adobe PDF viewers, and Windows 7 Device Stage for transferring files between a mobile device and a PC. A multi-touch interface is also mentioned, complete with custom gestures like panning and pinch zooming.

One of the first tablets to launch with Windows Embedded Compact 7 will reportedly be the recently announced Asus Eee Pad EP121. Microsoft has posted a few videos of the new operating system here, showcasing its "connected experiences", "rich user experiences", and platform reliability.