Isn't this what Windows CE was for? Microsoft is set to announce a new version of Windows NT next month, dubbed Windows NT Embedded or NTE, that will extend the operating system into a new realm of non-PC hardware including routers, switches, and the like.

"Something we started working on a few months ago is to take NT and make an embedded version to be used in places such as switches and home-automation systems," said Jim Allchin, senior VP of the personal and business systems group at Microsoft. "We will configure NT to run without a keyboard or terminal. We are definitely going down this path."

Sources close to the NTE project at Microsoft say the new operating system could run on a FLASH memory card and not require a hard drive or floppy. The user interface will consist of a series of options in menus