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Microsoft Makes Surprise CE 6 Release 145

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the major-overhaul dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Unexpectedly, Microsoft has released a beta of Windows CE 6, at its mobile developer's conference (MEDC) this week. CE is the real-time OS that underpins Windows Mobile and Microsoft's other device software stacks for phones, PDAs, set-top boxes, and the like. CE 6 looks to be a major rewrite, featuring the capability to support several orders of magnitude more concurrent processes and virtual memory. Also new is support for MS's .NET IDE. Together, these new capabilities seem calculated to morph CE from a closed-box, off-the-shelf OS into a more customizable OS."
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Microsoft Makes Surprise CE 6 Release

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  • by ZSpade (812879) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @04:49PM (#15296992) Homepage
    Meanwhile Microsoft's Major new consumer operating system has been pushed back several times, and talked up every chance they get. I think this says a lot about the order of importance of the mobile OS to people. Having worked in retail I can honestly say nobody ever asked me if that palm I was selling them came with a windows based OS or which OS it came with, yet with people who bought desktops I'd always get this question: "Does it come with XP?". This was, of course, years after XP was common, and computers really weren't packaged with anything else.

    I don't think this release was so much a secret as it was an unadvertised release. If microsoft thought there would be a huge public reaction to this, they would have talked it up publicly before they even started work on it.
    • This ties in with Microsoft's renewed partnership with Qualcom:

      http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/05/08/microsoft_ qualcomm_alliance/ [theregister.co.uk]

      Microsoft and Qualcom wish to make common cause against Nokia -Qualcom due to CDMA and Microsoft due to Symbian OS and mobile Linux. Microsoft has had difficulty in getting any major manufacturer to use their platform on phones due to manufacturer's rightful fears of being commoditized as PC makers have been. .NET will help support a lot of distributed apps and better concurren
      • Turning phones into a commodity would be a boon for customers. Could I not then pick out any phone I wanted instead of being limited to whatever my carrier has in fashion this week? Not that I think they should all standardize on WinCE, but some form of standardization (can we get SIM cards of sorts for CDMA phones already?) would be nice.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      The difference is that MS already "own" the desktop. They feel that they don't really need to make much of an effort. To an extent their server OS can piggyback off the desktop machines. They have competition, but can get by with fud a lot of the time, at least in windows shops.

      The embedded space is different still face serious challenges in the embedded space, so they actually have to do some work. They actually have to do some work with CE because they don't have a monopoly.
    • Having worked in retail I can honestly say nobody ever asked me if that palm I was selling them came with a windows based OS . . .

      Very interesting. It must mean that people don't care. Which means that nobody has a beef with the Microsoft mobile OS. And even though MS makes the mobile OS preferred by the large majority, MS continues to innovate with their mobile OS.

      Watch the haters with their head in the sand say something like, "Oh, well we'll see if this is really innovation or if it's just another
      • Watch the haters with their head in the sand say something like, "Oh, well we'll see if this is really innovation or if it's just another bug-filled DRM'd release that the government uses to spy on you."

        Yep, I really hate that knee-jerk wait-and-see attitude. I mean how irrational can you get?

    • You make it sound like one division at Microsoft gains because another division loses. This is just a silly way to view things. Its not like Microsoft is delaying Vista because they have over allocated resources to the CE group.

      How about this for a reality check view of things. First of, Microsoft has 90%+ of the desktop OS market, but maybe 1/3 of the portable market, with 1/3 stretching things huge. Where would you allocate your resources to? Secondly, which do you think would be easier to make...
      • What I meant was that Microsoft was a lot more public about Vista before they even really had anything to show for it (remember longhorn.) But they waited with CE6 until they had something to show for, rather than creating a lot of hype for something still on the drawing board.

        I never meant that they placed more importance on one over the other, or that focus on one effected the other. Microsoft is a big corp with a lot of divisions, and I've got a feeling what one division does isn't going to have a whole
        • Ah... thats simple to explain. Microsoft has to hype Vista all the way to hell and back, simply because who is their biggest competition? Its not linux... its not Mac OS X, its Windows Xp/2000. They need to convince people to buy the new product and thus keep their purse lined with gold, or their business model fails.

          In the embeded market there is no such presure. For the most part, people dont "upgrade" devices like the do computers. Point blank Microsoft needs to convince millions of people with th
    • The fact that people aren't even aware of their reliance on Windows CE is exactly the reason why it is so important Microsoft keeps on the ball with CE releases.

      I think you underestimate the sheer volume of Windows CE users, and almost none of them even know it. Most of your major car manufacurers use CE in their newer vehicles, especially luxury cars. It is in cable boxes, dvrs, exercise equipment, dish washers and point of sale systems... It is everywhere and being used more every day.

      And what is
      • Keep in mind that Vista is designed as a new generation of operating system, taking advantage of it (or even using it) will require pretty advanced and expensive hardware...

        A several-years-old standard desktop PC is "advanced and expensive hardware" ?

      • Vista was going to be a new generation of OS, but as time's gone on the requirements have been scaled back, and now it's more of an evoluntionary upgrade. It certainly will not require hardware that's substantially more powerful than was common a few years years ago.

        When Microsoft does release what it originally intended Vista to be, I don't think it's going to be particularly pushing the hardware requirements. Fundamentally, the intention was to get .NET the primary focus of all development, and .NET isn

  • Surprise? (Score:5, Informative)

    by AnalystX (633807) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @04:51PM (#15297005) Journal
    What was the surprise? Microsoft showed off a new version of its mobile OS to a mobile developer's conference, or that they included .Net? (.Net. You know, that dev platform that Microsoft would port to your bathroom shower head if they could).
    • It looks like the development environment is being ported. The .NET framework has been available on the past few revisions of CE (The Pocket PC versions). I have a Pocket PC handheld for that purpose (Too much of a learning curve for Palm programming. My C++ skills are absent since I've not used them in years).
      • According to the article it is .NET [CF] 2.0 support that is being added, and as far as I'm concerned, that is the only real .NET. Who would actually develop in a CE environment? I think I would rather have root canal surgery.
        • .NET CF 2.0 has been around for a while... in fact, you can get 2.0 on most devices except for PocketPC 2002. I believe it's the development debugging tools they are announcing.
          • As I understand it, the news of supporting .NET CF 2.0 relates to WinCE 6 versus its predecessor (WinCE 5.0), not WinCE 4.2, and even 2.0 for 4.2 has only been out for a short while.
    • Ah yes, the System.Bathroom.Shower namespace.....
  • Ya know... (Score:2, Funny)

    by the phantom (107624) *
    ...WinCE just makes me want to wince.
  • by xXenXx (973576)
    I haven't used Windows CE since my old Hitachi S3 Windows CE palmtop (which I still have today), on that thing it's basically a black and white Windows 95 without dos.

    Has it changed much since then?
    • Re:Wow (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by Samus (1382)
      No, not much at all. I think they added color but that is probably all. Don't worry your 1990's tech is still not out of date.
  • Hardly Closed (Score:5, Informative)

    by Zebra_X (13249) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @05:00PM (#15297068)
    "Also new is support for MS's .NET IDE. Together, these new capabilities seem calculated to morph CE from a closed-box, off-the-shelf OS into a more customizable OS."

    CE is hardly closed and not really "off the shelf". For starters the source code for the OS is available as part of the platform builder tool. Also, the platform builder tool allows you to create releases of windows CE with different configurations, drivers and applications pre-isntalled. It is the equavlent of being about to build a custom image of windows XP, sans the explorer GUI interface (Desktop), or other system services such as RDP. The only problem is that CE looks about as old as it is, it will be nice to have a UI update. It is also the only OS that MS makes that is a "hard" real time OS and whose kernel does not provide GUI services. CE is also currently suported by VS.NET 2005, though not on the native C++ side. However, .NET applications can run on the CF 2.0 under CE and can be cable debugged, or remotely accessed using the RDP client.
    • Re:Hardly Closed (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      It is also the only OS that MS makes that is a "hard" real time OS

      lol, you must know more than Microsoft. Even they themselve don't claim that...

      Also, only PART of the source code is available, not 100%.
    • Re:Hardly Closed (Score:3, Informative)

      by Locke2005 (849178)
      For starters the source code for the OS is available as part of the platform builder tool. Which parts are source actually provided for? I thought it was just source for the BSP, and not for all the DLLs... at least it was back when I was using WinCE.
    • CE is also currently suported by VS.NET 2005, though not on the native C++ side

      Er, of course native C++ development for CE is supported in Visual Studio 2005.

      If you're talking application development for Windows Smartphone and Pocket PC, VS2005 supports C++, ATL and COM development. Pocket PC adds MFC support.

      By the way, it's not called Visual Studio.NET 2005, they've dropped the .NET part.
  • by Stanistani (808333) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @05:03PM (#15297092) Homepage Journal
    *Crickets chirping*
    .
    .
    .
    .
    *taps microphone*
    .
    .
    .
    "Is this thing... on?"
    • lol - it's almost like that....is anyone even releasing product on Win CE anymore with Windows Mobile 5.0 being such a defacto these days.

      Also is anyone aware of the new entirely Java OS for mobile phones from www.Savaje.com ?

      They are launching the first of their mobile hardware solutions at JavaOne next week in SF along with the sdk for your code.

      Basically the idealogy behind savaje is that anyone can build java applications that will run on your phone today right now and best of all be able to interface w
  • I love the "An anonymous reader writes...". what's next? "In a related news, an anonymous writer reads..." ? the allways surprising crowd of /...
    Otherwise I couldn't care less about the announcement. I swear
  • by GmAz (916505)
    So, the new Windows Mobile 5 that just came out is already going to be replaced. I know its early, but come on, give us some time to enjoy having the newest OS for our mobile devices.
    • I know! I just bought the Tmobile MDA. Came out almost 2 months ago!! WTF
    • by podRZA (907929)
      Win CE is a collection of services that can be used to build a custom embedded OS. Windows Mobile is one of these custom OS's. for more info: http://blogs.msdn.com/mikehall/archive/2005/03/15/ 395958.aspx [msdn.com]
    • take all the time you want. there aren't any updates yet
      • GP's remark and the other remarks I read that wince 5.0 already had .Net compatibility makes me wonder a bit if this is a remake or an update? Maybe they're just misusing their numbering system to hide the fact that they just needed some bugsfixes on 5.0 out.

        Anyway, it doesn't sound like a too good idea, I guess the manufacturers that just put 5.0 on their devices might be a bit pissed about making a series of devices that just recently came out obsolete with this move.

  • by soren42 (700305) * <(j) (at) (son-kay.com)> on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @05:13PM (#15297149) Homepage Journal
    While I'm certainly no fan of the Windows family of operating systems on desktops or servers (or PDAs, for that matter), I've recently found myself appreciating a Windows Embedded product. When I bought a new Honda [honda.com] in November, I fell in love with the navigation system - so much so that when I sought to purchase another new vehicle [honda.com] last month, the nav system was a requirement.

    After some research and discussion, I was dishearted to find that the navigation systems I had grown to love so much were actually powered by Windows Automotive Edition [microsoft.com] - based on Windows Embedded, which is a flavor of Windows CE. While I cannot actually tell (by any means) that the system is Windows-based, it is very stable, responsive, fast, and user friendly - most of which is probably of function of the application and not the operating system.

    All that said, I'm still psyched about CE 6 if it provides further media access features, hardware drivers, and other niceitys.

    I have real pain saying I'm psyched about a Windows product as a Linux and Mac OS geek! :) But, if it helps me get a better navigation system, I'll sell my soul to Redmond.
  • by Qwavel (733416) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @05:16PM (#15297166)

    "Also new is support for MS's .NET IDE."

    Windows CE is already supported by VS.NET 2005. And I don't just mean for .NET applications. I have written C++ apps using VC8 for deployment to WinCE 5.0.
  • What a let down. I was praying for Pocket Internet Explorer to get a shot in the arm. This release is great for both embedded developers and ISVs, but I got nothin! Then again, I might get a surprise ... when I find out my new fangled PVR runs windows (ce) outside of a firewall. Surprise!
  • by Tim C (15259) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @05:22PM (#15297196)
    The Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary defines several [cambridge.org] as meaning "some... fewer than many" and many [cambridge.org] as "a large number of".

    Given that, I think it's fair to assume that three is not too large a number to be "several"; certainly, about that many is what I generally mean when I say "several". Working on that basis, then, supporting "several orders of magnitude more concurrent processes" means supporting about three orders of magnitude more processes. Three orders of magnitude is 1000 (=10^3). If we up "several" to four or five, we have 10,000 or 100,000.

    Perhaps the OS can support that many concurrent processes (although I admit to having my doubts), but I'd be amazed if any hardware it runs on does.
  • I have a smart phone (SX66) and even with it's 400Mhz processor it's not what I would call fast.

    I'm pretty confused since there isn't that much screen to refresh (320x200 or so) and it's not running a bunch of stuff.

    Has anyone ever profiled the OS? I'm really curious if the hardware is just sucky and slow (i.e. really slow bus, etc) or if the OS is just not well structured.

    I can remember the old 4.7Mhz days and can't how a 100x increase in clock speed can produce something so unimpressive in performance.

    Of
    • I ran it ok on a 90mhz MIPS CPU (IBM z50) and 75mhz SH3 (HP 620LX), and the gold standard for WinCE running well was the original iPaq, which had a 206mhz StrongARM CPU. The graphics architecture in most devices is pretty horrible, but most 2D apps should run fine with that speed of CPU.
    • If its based on .NET then it cant be considered fast.I did few scripts for Windows Mobile 5 for Smartphone and it was not a good experience at all.Symbian rocks.
  • by Ben174 (853174) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @05:41PM (#15297320) Homepage Journal
    WinCE is Microsoft's stab at a Linux type of OS. With packages, dependencies, and multiple architecture support, I believe it is the future of Microsoft -- eventually to replace Windows altogether... It's the complete rewrite of Windows we've all been waiting for.
  • by Manzanita (167643) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @05:42PM (#15297327)
    Wow! I am looking forward to being able to run "several orders of magnitude more concurrent processes." That will be 5, maybe 6 thousand concurrent processes, probably as many as 100 times as many as on my server at home! Cool!
    • Wow! I am looking forward to being able to run "several orders of magnitude more concurrent processes." That will be 5, maybe 6 thousand concurrent processes, probably as many as 100 times as many as on my server at home! Cool!

      Actually the new version can run 32,000 simultaneous processes. I shit you not.

      As we all know, emebedded software developers have been crying out for the ability to run 32,000 processes on a fucking PDA for years.
  • with Microsoft and major rewrites ("CE 6 looks to be a major rewrite") ??? As if the new one is so much better because it was rewritten? Given that there was hardly ground breaking research in OS design unveiled in the last few years, does that mean that the "old" WinCE code base was shit? I mean multi-millions in development costs in writing WinCE in the past for naught? Does MS not have competent SW architects and coders so that already written code can be used as a basis for new releases? Rewritten cod
    • Given that there was hardly ground breaking research in OS design unveiled in the last few years

      I don't know, Singularity [microsoft.com] seems pretty ground-breaking to me. Far more interesting than anything I've heard about since Plan 9, anyway.

  • by JustNiz (692889)
    >> CE is the real-time OS that underpins Windows Mobile...

    CE Reatime. LOL.... Whatever. I guess Microsoft must have patented the definition of realtime or something.
  • I thought Microsoft had forgotten the meaning of the word 'release'. They haven't seemed to have been able to do it for quite awhile now.

  • So can we call it Vista CE?
  • So let me get this straight. They are getting ready to release a new version when they're just finally getting Windows Mobile 2005 phones to market. They haven't even fixed the bugs.

    I swear...they're !@#$% morons.

    - Saj

    PS - Slashdot is a moron too.

    a) a few symbols as alternative to swearing != ascii art
    b) 5 symbols != lame. :P
  • I bet this is as much realtime as Windows XP Embedded is embedded. That is, it probably squeaks by the dictionary definition if you squint hard enough...
  • by Anonymous Coward


    A new version release every 18 months has been the norm so calling it "surprising" is naive. You won't see a GA user product for a year or more, though. One can only hope these won't be the junk that WM5 (CE5-based) user devices are.

  • Most PDA manufacturers will not even bother releasing an upgrade for pre-existing devices, which means if you want the newest fangled Windows CE, you have to buy a new device. Glad I read this as I will put off buying a new PDA until CE 6 is supplied in the box on the device.
  • The article really didn't explain this and it doesn't make sense. Isn't virtual memory a segment of hard drive space that is used as RAM? I am guessing they mean something else or it's just a marketing term, probably the latter.
    • > Isn't virtual memory a segment of hard drive space that is used as RAM?

      No. You're describing the use of a paging file. Paging != virtual memory. Virtual memory only means every process gets its own virtual address space... which could be backed by any sort of memory including physical RAM or file on disk. The point of virtual memory is so that programs can use their own memory addresses and the operating system maps them to physical locations that don't conflict with other programs.
    • Maybe the mean using a CF/SD card, or a micro drive, as virtual...

      • That would be cool, especially a better way of using card memory. As it is now most PDA's don't combine the memory. A real annoying thing is that many PDA's with extra memory install the memory as a Storage space separate from Program space so you can't use it to boost performance only as storage which can be expanded more economically through a card which can also actually be faster.

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