Microsoft announced a Technology Preview Kit for Windows CE 5.0, previously code-named "Macallan." The company says the new OS version is based on feedback from customers, and it will focus on increasing developer productivity through a variety of new features and enhancements including increased out-of-the-box hardware support, security enhancements, advanced multimedia capabilities and automated testing tools.
More than 60 OEMs, silicon vendors and solution integrators are already working on solutions for Windows CE 5.0 as part of Microsoft's Joint Development Partner program. Some of these companies include Biostar Group, Costron Company Limited, Humax Co. Ltd., InFocus Corp., Intel Corp., Intermec Technologies Corp., LG Electronics, Samsung Electronics, Tcom&Dtvro Co. Ltd and ViewSonic Corp.
"The next version of Windows CE will deliver new componentized technology that will help customers save time in the development process and will enable a wide range of innovative devices, from gateways and gaming devices to set-top-boxes," said Ya-Qin Zhang, corporate vice president of the Mobile and Embedded Devices Division at Microsoft. "This release is an important milestone for Windows CE because it reflects ongoing feedback we've received from customers to enable them to build embedded devices even more quickly."
Microsoft also has increased support for widely available embedded hardware with more than 50 production-quality drivers individually optimized for chipsets such as ARM, MIPS, SuperH and x86, enabling OEMs to use the drivers right out of the box rather than having to customize them for a particular hardware platform.
According to the company Windows CE 5.0 is a hard, real-time operating system that provides OEMs with a reliable foundation and integrated core operating system components for developing a broad range of devices, from consumer electronics to headless devices. Windows CE 5.0 will ship with all components automatically set to the highest possible security setting while providing developers with complete flexibility to modify the security setting as needed for their unique design. A powerful new capability, Windows Error Reporting, enables quality and performance monitoring for in-field devices so OEMs can continually improve and update devices they have already deployed. In addition, an enhanced Windows CE Test Kit provides comprehensive automated testing tools to improve device stability and reliability.
Windows CE 5.0 will include support for Direct3D Mobile, a Component Object Model (COM)-based programming model and graphics solution built on Microsoft's desktop technology, DirectX. By including support for Direct3D Mobile, Windows CE devices can now support higher-performance graphics and multimedia, similar to a desktop experience, on small-footprint devices. In addition, enhanced multimedia features, such as Fast Start, dramatically decrease playback start time for multimedia content such as movies on a range of devices including Internet Protocol (IP) set-top boxes.
"Intel has enabled a new generation of rich multimedia and gaming capabilities for D3DMobile utilizing Intel XScale technology with Wireless MMX instructions," said Mark Casey, director of Marketing for the Cellular and Handheld Group at Intel. "Working closely with Microsoft to integrate these enhancements into D3DMobile, developers and OEMs will be able to deploy a new generation of compelling 3-D applications while meeting the battery life and small size requirements of mobile devices."
Technology Preview kits for Windows CE 5.0 will be provided to attendees visiting the Microsoft booth at electronicaUSA with the Embedded Systems Conference. The preview will also be available for download at the Windows Embedded Web site. The company plans to have the final product available during summer 2004.