Windows CE .NET moved out of beta testing last month with an arrayof support coming from both inside Microsoft and from othercompanies. The real-time embedded operating system is designed foruse with the next generation of small-footprint devices such ashandhelds, smart phones, set-top boxes, retail point-of-sale devicesand displays.
Promotional pricing for the Windows CE .NET tools, as well as freeevaluation and emulation editions of the tools and platform hit thestreets and source access was provided to additional Windows CE .NETcomponents. There is also a Windows CE .NET training curriculum.
Minimum operating system footprint is said to be as low asapproximately 200Kbyte but this provides only minimum kernelfunctions. It provides support for wireless technology such asBluetooth and 802.11 and supports multimedia and web browsing throughMicrosoft Internet Explorer 5.5, Windows Media 8 and DirectX 8technologies.
There are four families of microprocessors and emulationtechnologies supported:
- ARM's supported processors include the ARM720T, ARM920T,ARM1020T, StrongARM, Xscale:
- MIPS supported processors include the MIPS II/32 with FP, MIPSII/32 without FP, MIPS16, MIPS IV/64 with FP, MIPS IV/64 withoutFP;
- SHx supported processors include the SH-3, SH-3 DSP, SH-4
- X86 supported processors include the 486, 586, Geode, PentiumI/II/III/IV
New and enhanced operating system features include Real-timecollaboration and communication (RTC/SIP): RTC enables messaging,presence, and audio (voice over IP) between any two IP enableddevices. RTC is based on the single inline package (SIP) protocolwhich is an Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) standard.
Windows CE .NET Emulation Edition will enable developers to buildand test their Windows CE .NET-based designs on workstations runningWindows 2000 or Windows XP without requiring the target hardware.
The CE .NET training curriculum is designed to educate devicedevelopers and show them how to create devices using the new platformand tools. The three hands-on training courses are Introduction toWindows CE .NET, Developing Embedded Solutions for Windows CE .NET,and Windows CE .NET Driver and OAL Development.
A limited time promotional price of $995 is available todistributors acquiring Windows CE .NET with Platform Builder, thetool set for building Windows CE .NET-based operating system images.
The software makes use of the Microsoft Shared Source License forWindows CE (WCESSL), which allows source modification andredistribution for noncommercial purposes. For the first time accessto additional source code that is packaged with the software. InWindows CE 3.0, Microsoft provided source access for more than half amillion lines of code. In Windows CE .NET, Microsoft has tripled thatby including many new components such as HTTP Web server, Microsoftmessage queuing, USB, Bluetooth and other wireless network drivers,and SOAP and UPnP protocol implementations.
Windows CE .NET also includes .NET Compact Framework (currently inTechnology Preview release), an application development platform forbuilding applications and XML Web services for smart devices. The.NET Compact Framework supports multiple languages including VisualBasic .NET and Visual C .NET, and it handles overheads like memorymanagement and security, and improves the reliability of deviceapplications.
The addition of Smart Device Extensions for Visual Studio .NET,means that more than 4 million developers using Visual Studio will beable to develop applications for Windows CE .NET-based smart devicesrunning the .NET Compact Framework with the same tools that theyalready use to build desktop and server applications.
Windows CE .NET has native support to allow a device to use aBluetooth-enabled cellular phone such as a data modem, to exchangefiles and objects, and to use a Bluetooth-enabled local area networkaccess point to provide network connectivity.
The Object Exchange (OBEX) protocol is an efficient, compactbinary protocol that enables a wide range of devices to exchange dataspontaneously in a simple, efficient manner. In Windows CE .NET, thisfeature works over Bluetooth and Infrared Data Association (IrDA)protocols.
A MediaSense feature improves the roaming experience for mobiledevice users by notifying applications of network status. Forexample, it will notify the application whether the embedded deviceis in or out of range. It also provides an offline mode to the user.
Windows CE .NET introduces 802.11 Zero Configuration, 802.1x, andExtensible Authentication Protocol (EAP). 802.11 Zero Configurationsimplifies setup of 802.11 networks and enables seamless roaming fromone 802.11 network to another. 801.1x and EAP significantly enhancessecurity of 802.11 by enabling user/password, certificate or originalequipment manufacturer (OEM)&endash;specific authentication to log onto the network.
The software supports a number of networking technologiesincluding the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) version3.0 which is used to access the Microsoft Active Directory thatstores names, addresses, telephone numbers, and other types ofinformation.
It supports a Windows CE&endash;based device as a Remote AccessService (RAS) server and allows clients to connect to the WindowsCE&endash;based device using a wide area network (WAN) connection.
Windows CE .NET introduces support for Network Driver InterfaceSpecification (NDIS) 5.1 which simplifies driver development byabstracting details of both the hardware and protocol layers. NDISsupports Ethernet (802.3), IrDA, WAN, as well as Token Ring (802.5)miniports.
Windows CE .NET introduces support for full intermediate drivers,battery status, direct memory access (DMA), and send cancellations.
The software includes a standards-based TCP/IP stack, allowingWindows CE-enabled devices to participate as peers and servers onLANs and remote networks. Windows CE .NET also includes security andstabilisation enhancements to TCP/IP.
Windows CE .NET contains all the required components to supportNetwork Bridging in a platform. This connects multiple Ethernetnetwork segments into a single subnet by forwarding frames from onesegment to another.
Security enhancements include use of the Kerberos authenticationprotocol which provides a mechanism for mutual authentication betweenentities before a secure network connection is established, andprovides a number of benefits.
The application server does not need to connect to the domaincontroller to authenticate each client because credentials presentedby the client provide authentication information.
With mutual authentication both the client and server are able toverify each other's identity. The standards-track specifications arebased on the IETF, which allows interoperability with other networks.
Kerberos is the authentication protocol used by servers runningWindows 2000 Server and subsequent releases.
Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) support for web server has been addedto the web server to allow the web server and web clients tocommunicate securely using encryption.
To protect sensitive information or prevent data tampering, theprotected store API provides a convenient solution to cryptography,and user experience issues.
The smart card subsystem for CE .NET supports CryptoAPI throughsmart card CSPs. These service providers are dynamic-link libraries(DLLs) that enable access to specific services.
Microsoft says the latest version of the software provides anumber of performance improvements of versions 3.0. These include a50% increase in networking and file system access up by 72%. The coldboot is twice as fast and suspend and resume takes less than1second.
Broad support for boards
Windows CE .NET includes multiple board support packages and atlaunch supported the following standard development boards (SDBs):
- Advantech PCM-5822 and PCM-5823 SDB for x86 microprocessors
- ARM Integrator SDB for ARM920 microprocessors
- DDB5476 SDB for Vr5432 microprocessors
- Dorado Reference Platform for x86 microprocessors
- Eagle SDB for Vr4122 microprocessors
- Hitachi SH3 Keywest SDB for SH3 microprocessors
- Hitachi SH4 Aspen SDB for SH4 microprocessors
- Intel SA1110/SA1111 Assabet SDB for SA1110 microprocessors
- Lanner EM-350 and EM-351 SDB for x86 microprocessors.
A number of other boards are being developed which could host theoperating systems.
One European design house, NMI Electronics, based in the UK inHalesowen, only works on projects that use Windows CE. It can handlethe complete development cycle from concept through to volumemanufacture.
It has completed over 50 projects since becoming an approvedsystem integrator in 1996. As well as complete custom designs thecompany has developed a number of CPU modules, intellectual propertyand other software.
Its µEngine reference and development platform is a singleboard computer which contains all the elements of a CPU subsystemincluding processor, RAM, Flash, FPGA and support circuitry.
There is also a µPCI baseboard which eases interfacing of theµEngine to a PCI bus.
Silicon vendors including ARM, Hitachi, Intel, Texas Instruments,MIPS, National Semiconductor (see box below) and NEC are continuingtheir support for Windows CE by ensuring that their next-generationprocessors are supported by Windows CE .NET.
Other companies have detailed products that will use the operatingsystem including:
- ABB Group, in a range robots;
- Casio Computer in the Cassiopeia Pocket Manager BE-300, asmart, connected mobile PDA
- Cyberbank, in its PC-EPhone3, a PDA smart phone
- Fujitsu in its integrated and mobile i-pad, used in retailsales applications or as a mobile point-of-sale terminal
- Hitachi in its next-generation PDA device
- Impactra in its portable Windows Media -based players, Motioni and Sync i, which store and play back motion picture files
- Intermec Technologies in its 5020 handheldenterprise-data-collection solution
- Motorola in its EVr-8401 Enhanced TV Viewer
- Salton in its iCEBOX FlipScreen Web-enabled kitchenentertainment and communication centre for the
- Samsung Information Systems America, in its NEXiL wirelesshandheld computer
- Siemens Information and Communication Mobile, in its SIMpadmobile information device
- Sony in its next-generation Plasma Display and NetworkProjector
- Symbol Technologies in its concept device for ruggedisedhandheld computers (see box)
- ViewSonic in its ViewPad 100 mobile-communication andinformation-management Web pad device
- Wyse Technology in its Winterm 3000 series of Windows-basedterminals.
Symbol looks to add wireless for data collection
Symbol Technologies is a provider of mobile data collectiondevices and wireless solutions. To streamline and unify itsdevelopment efforts while providing customers with an environment forcreating task-specific applications, Symbol has adopted the MicrosoftWindows CE .NET embedded operating system for an array of products.
Symbol provide bar code and wireless LAN products as well astask-specific mobile computing solutions to customers as diverse asFedEx, Office Depot, PepsiCo, and the Department of Defense. Thecompany's 'bread-and-butter' business is data collection solutionssuch as bar code scanners and handheld data information terminals.
As its larger customers demand greater functionality andefficiency out of these devices, Symbol has needed to find anoperating system platform that could deliver features such aswireless roaming capability and the ability to exploit Web-basedtechnology, including XML and SOAP, for easily moving data betweenmobile devices and backend systems and applications.
“Windows CE .NET support for secure wireless technology and theinclusion of the Microsoft .NET Compact Framework allow our mobiledevices to integrate easily into enterprise systems. It lets usdeliver powerful solutions to our customers with an applicationplatform that creates maximum efficiency for our development teams.”said Bob Schreib, senior manager of mobile computing at Symbol.
Published in Embedded Systems (Europe) February 2002