Called “Macallan” during development, Windows CE 5.0 emphasizes development process, reliability, and innovation, according to spokesperson John Starkweather, a senior product manager in Microsoft's Embedded Devices Group. He adds that the “componentized hard-real-time operating system” improves its deterministic performance, but says specifics about performance would come later.
To make the development process more efficient, Microsoft has incorporated the capabilities of the command line into pull-down menus in the integrated development environment (IDE). The development environment is synchronized across the command line and graphical interface development environments to decrease operating system image development time. Microsoft continues to provide about two million lines of source code with the product. The premium source program available to OEMs makes all source code is available.
Since embedded firmware developers spend a disproportionate amount of time developing drivers, this version will ship with 50 “production quality” drivers selected from input from the 50 top OEMs. Previous versions shipped with sample drivers only. Developer efficiency is also supported by the addition of 12 “design templates” That include such designs as a set-top box, PDA, residential gateway, thin client, and VoIP phone.
Version 5.0 also offers security enhancements. It adds additional network security optimizations to existing features, AES (Advanced Encryption Standard), FIPS 140-2 Level 1 certification, and Credential Manager enhancements for secure caching of credentials. Windows CE will ship with all components automatically defaulted to the highest possible security setting while providing developers with the ability to modify the settings. In previous versions, the OS was security tested. In this version the individual components are security tested as well, says Starkweather.
This version also includes a component that enables a Windows Error Reporting (WER) process for connected devices that is transparent to users. WER is a crash dump analysis and reporting tool for post-mortem that provides automatic feedback.
Enhancements to Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) will improve upon the ability to connect networked devices and manage data transfer in a peer-to-peer environment, according to Microsoft. Location services will be included in this release as well. Location services allow applications to adjust their behavior based on the mobile user's point of presence, and allow users to customize their experience based on their location. For wireless capability version 5.0 supports all ratified 802.11 flavors.
Version 5.0 incorporates a COM-based Direct3D style programming model that is built on Microsoft DirectX 8. It provides a smaller design of the Direct3D API desktop implementation and supports both fixed and floating-point data types.
For headless systems, the modularized operating system can be sized as small as 200 kilobytes. Full-blown systems have a footprint up to two megabytes. Windows CE 5.0 is scheduled to release to manufacturing in Summer 2004 and will be available from Microsoft Authorized Embedded Distributors in early Fall 2004. The public beta, called a “technology preview” is available for download as of April 1.