CES 2009: Windows 7 gives CE brands a home

Device StageCES 2009 Las Vegas.  In a crowded section of the Microsoft booth, show attendees vie for position to get a first glimpse of the soon-to-be-released Windows 7.   Though the list of new features is plentiful, one in particular is sure to become the CE manufacturer’s best friend.

The new feature, dubbed “Device Stage” is a user interface that is automatically launched when a recognized device is attached to the system.  The interface provides a brand-customizable set of visual assets and actions contextual to the connected device.

For example, connect a Sony Ericsson phone to the system and Windows7 can automatically open a window that contains actions relevant to that device i.e. links to ringtones, info, accessories, important updates, launchable software, etc.  Essentially an aggregation point for the user to access the most important options for the device.

What should make this attractive to brands is the amount of control that Microsoft is placing in their hands.  A CE manufacturer can provide the graphics to display in the window.  They can choose what features and links are available.  They can use it as a distribution point to roll out updates and patches.  But, by far the most important aspect is for smart brands to leverage the interface as a launch point to offer additional products and services that are directly applicable to that user’s device.

Microsoft sees this as a win-win for all parties.  The user receives a hyper-relevant interface to make the most efficient use of their device. Microsoft gets support from the brands to enhance Windows 7 usability, and the brands get a valuable piece of real-estate to strengthen consumer relationships and build positive brand association.

Windows 7 becomes available for a limited number of Beta downloads on Friday, Jan 9th.