While Microsoft used its developer-oriented PDC 2008 conference last week to unveil the surface goodies available in its upcoming Windows 7 OS, at this week's WinHEC (Windows Hardware Engineering Conference) 2008 show promises a deeper peek at the system's underpinnings. During Tuesday's opening keynote at the event, Microsoft discussed both Windows 7 and its server-based relative, Windows Server 2008 R2.

"We've done a great deal of work in Windows 7 to enable new scenarios with our hardware partners, and we are excited by the partner innovation we have shown today," says Microsoft senior vice president Jon DeVaan. "Windows 7 presents tremendous opportunities for hardware developers. This innovation will enable our hardware partners to provide customers with even greater choice in rich computing experiences."

Given the hardware-related nature of WinHEC, it should come as no surprised that Microsoft used this opportunity to discuss Windows 7's hardware prowess. The company showed off new Windows 7 features like Devices and Printers, Device Stage, and Windows Touch, as well as its mobile broadband and hardware sensor integration.

During a morning keynote, DeVaan showed Windows 7 booting on the same hardware slightly faster than its predecessor, the ill-received Windows Vista. He promised more speed-ups as development continues. Other demos showed Windows 7 utilizing less memory than Vista while running more reliably.

Microsoft also touted some Windows Server 2008 R2 hardware advances, such as its support for multi-core and many-core processors and its power management improvements. The company promises more Server 2008 R2 news on Thursday.