Microsoft Windows CE

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Microsoft Windows CE

Windows CE (also known officially as Windows Embedded Compact or Windows Embedded CE post version 6.0 , and sometimes abbreviated WinCE) is an operating system developed by Microsoft for minimalistic computers and embedded systems. Windows CE is a distinctly different operating system and kernel, rather than a trimmed-down version of desktop Windows. It is not to be confused with Windows XP Embedded which is NT-based. Windows CE is supported on Intel x86 and compatibles, MIPS, ARM, and Hitachi SuperH processors.
Features

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 deterministic interrupt latency. From version 3 and onward, the system supports 256 priority levels and uses priority inheritance for dealing with priority inversion. The fundamental unit of execution is the thread. This helps to simplify the interface and improve execution time.

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Microsoft has stated that the ‘CE' is not an intentional initialism, but many people believe CE stands for ‘Consumer Electronics' or ‘Compact Edition'. Microsoft says it implies a number of Windows CE design precepts, including “Compact, Connectable, Compatible, Companion, and Efficient.” The first version, known during development under the code name “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 a component-based, embedded, real-time operating system. It is no longer targeted solely at hand-held computers. Many platforms have been based on the core Windows CE operating system, including Microsoft's AutoPC, Pocket PC 2000, Pocket PC 2002, Windows Mobile 2003, Windows Mobile 2003 SE, Windows Mobile 5.0, Windows Mobile 6, Smartphone 2002, Smartphone 2003, Portable Media Center and many industrial devices and embedded systems. Windows CE even powered select games for the Dreamcast, was the operating system of the Gizmondo handheld, and can partially run on modified Xbox game consoles.

A distinctive feature of Windows CE compared to 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, or customized operating system designs based on CE) offered several components in source code form to the general public. However, a number of core components that do not need adaptation to specific hardware environments (other than the CPU family) are still distributed in binary only form.