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At CES Show, Gates Introduces Windows CE .NET

During his keynote address Monday at the 2002 International CES show in Las Vegas, Bill Gates announced the launch of Windows CE .NET, the next generation of Microsoft Corp.’s operating system for smart devices and handhelds. The offering comes equipped with a platform for building mobile XML Web services.

Gates, Microsoft’s chairman and chief software architect, presented the release as an extension of Microsoft’s .NET vision for providing access to information at any time on any device. Through the .NET Compact Framework, an application development platform Microsoft first released as a technology preview in October and now has packaged with Windows CE .NET, developers can build Web services for smart devices.

The .NET Compact Framework is designed to coordinate with the Smart Device Extensions available under Visual Studio .NET so any Web services built with that tool can also be deployed to smart devices running Windows CE .NET. Visual Basic .NET and Visual C# .NET are both supported by the .NET Compact Framework.

Among the bevy of improvements Microsoft is touting with the new version of its mobile operating system is a reduced footprint. The minimum kernel configuration for Windows CE .NET is 210 KB, down from 400 KB under Windows CE 3.0. Aubrey Edwards, director of marketing for Microsoft’s Embedded Enterprise Platform Group, credits the drop in footprint size to the componentized architecture of Windows CE .NET. He says the operating system now allows users to more easily pick and choose features to optimize it for their particular needs.

Windows CE .NET is one of the first official releases of a solution under the .NET product line. Microsoft has been accepting subscribers to its Passport authentication and authorization technology for some time now, and it has released .NET Alerts and some other ancillary offerings under its .NET My Services designation, but in terms of a major release, CE .NET is the company’s first substantial move. Visual Studio .NET, Microsoft’s much-anticipated Web services development environment for the desktop is slated for hard launch in February.

Microsoft is offering promotional pricing of $995 for the Windows CE .NET tools, as well as free availability of Evaluation and Emulation editions of the tools and platform, and a series of one and four-day education programs to train developers on the Windows CE .NET platform.

Windows CE .NET Emulation Edition, which is available as a free download at msdn.microsoft.com/embedded, is a testing environment for Windows CE .NET designs. It allows developers to run solutions on Windows 2000 and Windows XP workstations without actually deploying them to a mobile device. Windows CE .NET Evaluation Edition, which can be ordered at www.microsoft.com/windows/Embedded/ce.NET/evaluation/trial/evalkit.asp, is a 120-day trial version of Windows CE .NET packaged with a number of white papers and other technical documents.

With Windows CE .NET, Microsoft has also opened up more of its source code to developers for non-commercial use. As compared to Windows CE 3.0, the platform offers about three times more open lines of code. Access to source code for new components includes HTTP Web Server, MSMQ, USB, Bluetooth and other wireless network drivers, and SOAP and UPnP Protocol implementations.

In conjunction with the release of Windows CE .NET, Microsoft announced a number of vendors that have committed to ship devices with support for the new operating system.

ARM Ltd., Hitachi Ltd., Intel Corp., Texas Instruments Inc., MIPS Technologies Inc., National Semiconductor Corp. and NEC Corp. plan to continue their support for Windows CE. ABB Group, Casio Computer Co. Ltd., Cyberbank, Fujitsu Ltd., Impactra Inc., Intermec Technologies Corp., Motorola Inc., Salton Inc., Samsung Information Systems America, Siemens Information and Communication Mobile, Sony Corp., Symbol Technologies Inc., ViewSonic Corp., and Wyse Technology Inc. will also now be shipping devices with Windows CE .NET.

Access more of Matt Migliore's coverage of Web services at the Web Services Report Web site.

About the Author

Matt Migliore is regular contributor to ENTmag.com. He focuses particularly on Microsoft .NET and other Web services technologies. Matt was the editor of several technology-related Web publications and electronic newsletters, including Web Services Report, ASP insights and MIDRANGE Systems.

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