Windows CE

From Academic Kids

Windows CE (sometimes abbreviated WinCE) is a variation of Microsoft's Windows operating system for minimalistic computers and embedded systems. Windows CE is a distinctly different kernel, rather than a "trimmed down" version of desktop Windows. It is supported on Intel x86 and lookalikes, MIPS (see MIPS architecture), ARM family, and Hitachi SuperH processors.

Windows CE is optimized for devices that have minimal storage — a Windows CE kernel may run in under a megabyte of memory. Devices are often configured without disk storage, and may be configured as a "closed" system that does not allow for end user extension (for instance, it can be burned into ROM). Windows CE conforms to the definition of a real-time operating system, with a deterministic interrupt latency. It supports 256 priority levels and provides for priority inversion. Unlike UNIX-like operating systems, the fundamental unit of execution is the thread, providing for simpler, faster concurrent programming (see Thread (computer programming)).

Microsoft has stated that the "CE" is not an intentional acronym, but many people believe CE stands for "Consumer Electronics" or "Compact Edition". The first version, known during development under the codename "Pegasus", featured a Windows-like GUI and a number of Microsoft's popular applications, all trimmed down for smaller storage, memory, and speed of the palmtops of the day.

Since then, Windows CE has evolved into — according to Microsoft's documentation — a component-based, embedded, real-time operating system. It is no longer only targeted at hand-held computers. Many platforms have been based on the core Windows CE operating system, including Microsoft's Handheld PC, Pocket PC, Pocket PC 2002, Pocket PC 2003, Pocket PC 2003 SE, Smartphone 2002, and Smartphone 2003. Versions of Windows CE were even made to run on the Sega Dreamcast.

A distinctive feature of Windows CE vis-a-vis other Microsoft operating systems is that large parts of it are offered in source code form. First, source code was offered to several vendors, so they could adjust it to their hardware. Then products like Platform Builder (an integrated environment for Windows CE OS image creation and integration) offered several components in source code form to the general public.

It is often stated that Windows CE 3.0 and Pocket PC are the same thing, or that Pocket PC is the successor to Windows CE 3.0. This is not true. Windows CE 3.0 is a selection of operating system components, some of which provide subsets of other components' features (e.g. varying levels of windowing support; DCOM vs COM), others which are mutually exclusive (bitmapped or TrueType font support), and others which add additional features to another component. One can buy a kit (the Platform Builder) which contains all these components and the tools with which to develop a custom platform. Applications such as Pocket Word are not part of this kit.

Pocket PC is a Microsoft-defined custom platform for general PDA use, and consists of a Microsoft-defined set of minimum profiles (Professional Edition, Premium Edition) of software and hardware that is supported. The rules for manufacturing a Pocket PC device are stricter than those for producing custom Windows CE-based platform.

The Pocket PC is a personal digital assistant based on Windows CE. There are also cellphones, appliances, industrial controllers, video games, and other electronic devices based on Windows CE.

The major contender is Palm OS, featured on an incompatible platform.


Competing products

WinCE's major competition is VxWorks, eCos, OSE, QNX, Symbian OS, Linux deriatives such as uClinux and, most notably, PalmOS. Some device manufacturers handcraft their own system.

Uses for older Windows CE devices

Some people have used their older Windows CE devices, such as Ver.2.11 and 2.0 to make a web server. They have even installed NetBSD to their Windows CE devices. CEHTTP is one of the most famous web server program for Windows CE devices, and is relatively stable.

Other people can use BetaPlayer, which is available for free, to view MPEG, AVI, MPEG4 and MP3 on their old machines.

There is also a Python environment ported for Handheld PC devices.

See also

External links

History of Microsoft Windows
Windows: 1.0 | 2.0 | 3.x | NT | 95 | 98 | Me | 2000 | XP | Server 2003 | Server 2003 R2 | CE | Mobile | Longhorn | Blackcomb
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fr:Windows CE ja:Windows CE pl:Windows CE pt:Windows CE


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