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Windows CE going Open Source? 145

Pseudo Nim wrote to us with an interesting editorial from IT Director. Citing internal sources inside of Microsoft, the column claims that due to fear of competing with Linux in the embedded space, the WinCE folks are considering open sourcing Windows CE. I don't know how much stock I place in the rumours, but it's a very interesting proposition.
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Windows CE going Open Source?

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  • MS has a strong opportunity here to squash the growth of Linux into the mindspace of PHB's and daytraders. People who know very little about technology, and wouldn't know a FAT from a hole in the ground, only have the somewhat ephemerally defined concept of "open source" to explain the ravishing success of Linux they keep hearing about in PCWeek, Salon, what have you. They don't know why Windoze Suxx or why Linux Rulez, but they do have a feeling that open source has something to do with it. What has kept MS from open-sourcing macro-Windows? Primarily their fear of two things. Firstly, they want people eating out of their hands for upgrades, and secondly they want strict control over the tree so that they can push out system-level support for the latest version of BackOffice and their productivity apps, which combine to almost all of their revenue. But CE sucks, even from Microsoft's perspective. None of the really cool products that Microsoft makes can run in a CE environment. CE simply is not a money maker. Rather, it is a blockade against the PalmOS people, Linux, and any other vendor of embedded OSs that might someday trump Microsoft if average people ever get tired of desktop PCs. IOW, Microsoft doesn't care right now about controlling CE. It doesn't do them very much good. Open source CE! Of course! It will 1) supplant Linux in the minds of PHBs - "Why use open source Linux (a hacker's toy) when you can use open source Windows!" 2) improve the quality of CE while the desktop market still dominates. When/if palmtops and embedded systems ever really become the jazz, all MS has to do it snatch up the now lean-and-nimble CE, put stronger central controls in place, and ride that puppy down the road to riches. If MS wants to kill Linux's entry into the palm space, and probably it does, this seems like an excellent way to do it when combined with proper marketing.
  • If WinCE source was opened, even under a SCSL type license, it could be a real boon to efforts to port linux to WinCE handhelds.
  • Well, I've always heard that Microsoft never gets any product right until version 3. Maybe for Windows CE 3.0, making it Open Source is part of getting it right.
  • As for Corel, they changed their terms

    They changed their terms when it came time to release a public beta. As far as I know, their "alpha" testing group was still considered part of the "internal" group and still subject to their NDA.

    I guess it's possible I missed something.

    You can't diminish the legal force of the license agreement by wishing it away.

    Perhaps you can comment on this section of the GPL and how it would apply to GPL'ed code used internally:

    7. If, as a consequence of a court judgment or allegation of patent infringement or for any other reason (not limited to patent issues), conditions are imposed on you (whether by court order, agreement or otherwise) that contradict the conditions of this License, they do not excuse you from the conditions of this License. If you cannot distribute so as to satisfy simultaneously your obligations under this License and any other pertinent obligations, then as a consequence you may not distribute the Program at all. For example, if a patent license would not permit royalty-free redistribution of the Program by all those who receive copies directly or indirectly through you, then the only way you could satisfy both it and this License would be to refrain entirely from distribution of the Program.
    Nowhere does this section anull the user's license to copy or modify the GPL'ed software for their "own" use. It simply prohibits distribution.

    Unfortunately, the GPL doesn't explicitely say what constitutes as "distribution," whether it be a company's conscious act of releasing a work or making the program available in /usr/bin for users of a particular system. It does say this: Each licensee is addressed as "you". There is no mention that the licensee must be a natural person. If a person downloads a GPL'ed program while at work, they are acting for the Company, thus the Company is the one that downloaded it. Thus, to me, internal distribution does not qualify as distribution under the terms of the GPL, as the application remains in the posession of the same entity at all times.

    As you may or may not be aware, when legal ambiguities arise in contracts, they are automatically interpreted against the contract.

  • I also don't really understand why you would WANT a company to be prohibited from using the software like this. If a company were fixing a bug or something that caused the work to fail to operate in their environment, sure, I can see how that bug fix would be valuable for everyone else. But there are times when a company needs to take a relatively unfinished GPL'd work and adapt it for use in their proprietary environment (even if temporarily), such as making it use a proprietary database. Such code changes are useless to other people, except perhaps to get a look at some of the company's NDA'd internal protocols, for example. If a company is legally forbidden from adapting GPL'd works like this, it severely limits the usefulness of GPL'd software in corporate environments. The GPL "community" isn't harmed by the failure to release the changes, as the changes are specific to the company in question and useless elsewhere.
  • No Way

    There is no way that Linux would die if MS ported Win32 to Linux ala OS/2.

    There are two completely different mindsets involved. There's the OSS and the CSS (Closed Software Source) ideologies, and the OSS will always win because people who love to program will still write programs for an Open Source Platform.

    Let's also think about this. If MS does write a Win32->Linux layer, would this make Linux less stable? Probably not (provided MS didn't do something stupid like write it in kernel space instead of user space.) So you'd have the advantage of the stability of Linux, and the advantage of the Wealth of software for Windows.
    Arguably, this could diminish the number of ISVs for Linux, but it could go a long way to proving that Windows software and the Windows OS is inherently buggy and unstable.

    my $300CDN (worth about 2cents US)
  • As many have already pointed out, M$ is unlikely to go true open-source; the best we can hope for is viewable source. In that vein, some of you may not know that a fair fraction of PalmOS source is viewable for free if you sign their NDA [palm.com].
  • You've raised a fair point.
    I'm starting from the position that any individual is a legal entity, and passing from any individual to any individual is 'distribution'.
    Do you, or anyone, have _legal_ backing for the viewpoint that anyone working for a corporation is not subject to the obligations of an individual, or responsible for those obligations? This is a _very_ important point, I think. It is possible that under some interpretations the legal system regarding this is fatal to all free software, and that the only option will be outright defiance of the legal system.
    So, the Big Question:
    If a corporation's employee downloads and works on a GPLed program, does the license apply to the person, or are the conditions of the license said to apply to the corporation itself, and all employees of the corpration have no rights under the law as individuals, and no ability to enter into contracts as individuals?
    This actually strikes a lot deeper than just the GPL, and I'd be very interested in what a real lawyer would have to say off the record about it.
    You, Fastolfe, may have just killed Linux >:)
    If your interpretation is correct, it is trivially easy and permitted for any corporation to do anything they want no matter how proprietary to any version of Linux or any software that is GPLed, restrict the information tightly, and then release only rigidly completed products without room for hackers to contribute anything. It also means any corporation can do this and keep a moving dev target internally, legally forbidding any communication with the outside world, making it impossible to interact with the corporate-controlled dev target.
    How does it feel to have killed the GPL and Linux? If you're wrong and I am right, then the longheld belief that no company can take over Linux stands unchallenged. If you are correct, we have no recourse in the legal system at all, and Linux can be forcibly forked and taken over as long as it is done by a corporate entity acting (as you explain) as one entity.
    Could we have a LAWYER please offer an opinion on this? Fastolfe has opened one _hell_ of a can of worms here. Is this in fact a fatal loophole, or not?
  • I apologize for the spiteful remarks about you killing Linux. I was upset. This could indeed kill Linux- but it's not you doing it, or me, it's the legal situation of what a corporation is, for which neither of us are to blame.
    I am very sorry for sassing you in that manner, because it's really no joke. :(
  • Making CE open source may be the only way to compete with Palm Computers. Otherwise CE might go the way of the Newton.

    Opening CE would do two things:

    1> Gather more support for CE and have more companies using it.

    2> Get the DOJ off Microsoft's back as MS won't make as much money off a GPL CE as a commercial CE. Also having an open source Windows would show that Microsoft is letting the competition have open access to a form of Windows.

    But then having an Open Source CE might backfire and have the DOJ think that it is another product dumping Microsoft is doing to kill the competition like when Microsoft gave out free copies of Internet Explorer? After all PalmOS is not open source, right?

    Me? I'd much rather see that LinuxCE [linuxce.org] makes it as an alternative to Windows CE.

  • Take a look at the LinuxCE [linuxce.org] site; this site is exploring the notion of supporting Linux on WinCE palmtop computers.

    Love it or hate it, the fairly hefty memory requirements of WinCE over PalmOS have the merit that the machines are more powerful than the PalmComputing brethren. This makes it vastly more likely that WinCE computers might be able to run Linux and actually have storage space left to hold utilities.

    Supporting X, or even NanoGUI, [linuxhacker.org] would be rather challenging; it would be more feasible to try to provide the basic "Text Mode Console."

    It wouldn't be something to run ApplixWare on, but it could be a nice way of Coding On The Road...

  • Real time doesn't necessarily mean real fast. It just needs to be fast enough for the application. You would want a RTOS in a STB if, for instance, you want to change channels when you click the remote, not several seconds later. This would be on the order of tens of milliseconds. You would also like it to be able to show the video as it comes in, etc.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Yes, it won't be Open Source (TM), that we all know and love.

    However, I would imagine that CE source code is already available to the hardware developers, and maybe some of the software developers as well. It could be that Microsoft will try a MS-CSL to see if it broadens the developer base.

    And remember, the "Community" in "Community Source Licence" isn't necessary the GPL/Linux free software crowd. I'm sure commercial developers would happily sign on to the 'community', even with a more restrictive licence than you folk may like, if it helps them deliver a product faster.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Okay, let's look at it logically. Linux is going to be the big thing for embedded systems. Linux is competition for Windows CE. The reason Linux is going to be used in so many embedded devices is because the source code makes it easy to port between devices.

    This does not imply, however, that Microsoft will open up the source code to any that wish to see it.

    Microsoft makes its money by selling software, not services. Software, not hardware. This is why Microsoft *inherently* cannot put products under the GPL-- they don't make the bulk of their money from support, hardware, or banner ads.

    If Microsoft were to put Windows CE under an Open-Source license (be it the BSD license [never!] or the GPL [when hell freezes over and Satan sells hot chocolate]), people would simply embed it in their products and never pay Microsoft a dime. So nix anything that falls under "Free Software" or "Open Source" definitions.

    However, what if Microsoft put it under a license similar to Sun's "Community Source" license? They still get money for the commercial applications?

    Doesn't work. Companies wouldn't want to hassle with the entirely weird licensing ("Said program may be distributed under the SCSL unless at least three customers of company using said program are large slugs that breathe dryer lint, as defined in Section 2, subsection a, paragraph iv"). The only benefit is portability, and Linux has a *huge* headstart on that.

    Microsoft isn't open-sourcing anything any time soon. It's not possible under their business model-- maybe it's outdated, but it's worked for them so far.
  • WinCE is already much more open than Win98 or WinNT. You can buy a source license for WinCE at a price that real people can pay... I believe it's something like $899, give or take a digit. Similar access to the WinNT source costs a few orders of magnitude more, and usually involves someone's immortal soul.

    Don't flame me, I'm not trying to equate this with Linux, it's not "free" in any sense of the word. I only mention it because it shows that Microsoft is comfortable letting outsiders see their WinCE code, unlike most of their other products. So maybe this rumor is more plausible than it initially sounds.
  • No I'm not that person. I always post as me. sorry. :-)

    I'm also not confused, i do do this for a living. I really shouldn't respond to this cause i don't want to start a thread on the "definition" of real time, but I will anyway.

    Real time is a term that is very very hard to make a fixed definition for. Generally a real time OS is deterministic. predictable. For things like set top boxes (a very vague term in itself) this is important. In a plam top,you are correct, you probably don't need a rtos (unless of course you are doing something cool like running a software modem in the back geound or something, then it could be nice).

    a nice side effect of being predictable is usually being small and fast. Linux is fairly bloated for embedded apps. so is CE.

    If you want put this back into the context of the original post, I was only refering to rtos stuff cause this is the class of product that CE claims to compete in. if you want to look at free NON rt micro kernels and executives, then CE is really toast in the free software arena and I stand by my original argument. if i ever had one.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    WinCE is a nice platform and I, for one, would enjoy working on an open source version. But open-sourcing CE cannot happen for one simple reason: The minute you open up this code, the TWIN and WINE projects almost instantly become 99.9% compatible with Windows.

    WinCE is a subset of the Win32 API, but in the key areas of controls and the GDI (the key to the Windows look & feel), it's almost all there. What isn't there can be easily extrapolated from the core.

    People inside MS might advocate this strategy to assure their slowly dying project doesn't dissapear into the myst, but the layers of corporate structure will never take the *major* risk this strategy entails.
  • I would have to say that WindowsCE is like the Mac of the palmtop world. They have great hardware, an OS that does a lot more stuff, but by being so propietory, they have screwed themselves because now they have no software developers.

    Open source would be very helpful in getting more applications developed for WindowsCE, as right now there is basically nothing available for WindowsCE. Some of those WinCE machines are very nice little computers. They have PCMCIA, 256 colors, the whole nine yards. But because of Microsoft being such a proprietary, greedy company, no one will (or can) develop software for CE.

    PalmOS, being as open as it is, has 100s of applications with all kinds of bizzare functionality. It's like the Linux of the palmtop world. 3Com did a great job

    Microsoft needs to adopt the open mentality if they want to have any future in the world of palmtop computing. Like that will ever happen.

  • .. when I'll see it.
  • hmmm... if these rumours turn out to be true that could be a good thing. As someone who has tried both PalmOS and WinCE for a long period of time, WinCE is actually the better of the two (even though it IS made by Microsoft). But how likely is it? Microsoft is built on the foundation of proprietary source code, despite the recent rumors (Ballmer's comments, etc). I won't look for Microsoft Open Source ANYTHING anytime soon! --- "Progress is the God of the Machine"
  • ... which really caught on when there was a GNU compiler, open API, and test code.
  • If the rumor is true, then you can bet on two things:
    1. The license will be a modified open-source license, not even close to the GPL.
    2. MS will offer some monetary incentive to lure developers. Since they know they have no credibility in the OS community, they'll have to appeal to the greed factor.


  • First of all, MS releasing source is very unlikely to happen. Second of all, even if they do release it, it will most likely be under some kind of restrictive license (a la SCSL), which does not qualify as open source. The bad thing is that *they* will call it open source and media (i.e. ZD Net) will not have a clue to figure out the difference.
  • And thus we see the real deal here. There's nothing in, say, the GPL saying that open source tools have to be used on an open sourced OS. I haven't developed for WinCE, but I've heard stories . . . if they could get thier hands on some quality Open tools, they'd have the advantage of not having to worry too much about developing tools (let everyone else do that). So we, the open source community, spend our time and effort developing tools and MS packs them up and sells them.

    This brings up an intersting idealistic connundrum. For the most part, people develop Open Source because they love to do it, and they share because they want to help those like minded people out. I think it's safe to say that none of us COMPLETELY agree with Microsoft's tactics/philosophy. There are purists pointing fingers at RED HAT for crying out loud. They've contributed to the community. I can't imagine that Microsoft will.

    It's almost sad, and a little scary. It seems like this could be the first attempt at MS-Assimilation(tm) of the Open Source community. I suppose we should just hold to our resolve of doing what we do for ourselves. World Domination? Maybe it'll happen, but I'd trade it in a moment to continue good software, and a helpful intelligent community behind it.
  • I'd have to agree.

    For some reason, people see "embedded RTOS" and assume it's great for all embedded systems.

    Now I've never done embedded systems such as PDAs, set tops, etc but I have done machines and instrumentation. That's where it's *really* useful.

    ABS system in a car: real-time, unless you're an idiot.

    Robotic factory machines (which I've done): real-time. You don't want that gripper to grip a little too early/late or you'll risk damage. You have to make sure that the analysis you're doing from sensor input (load cell, etc) doesn't screw up your timing. Priorities are your friend.

    PDA/set-top box: Traditional OS. Real-time will give you no advantage.

    Well, unless someone can give me a good reason. Remember that I've never done a set-top or PDA before. I may be missing something.
  • why not? why should companies spend millions on creating os's and then give them away for red-hat wannabe's to sell??? the source is open and developers can see it - therefore software gets better right?
  • This makes sense to me. As a Palm OS developer, at one point someone from MS contacted me asking if I'd do WinCE ports. I told them "Probably not until the development environment is cheap/free". They basically said "ok" and then never talked to me again.

    But frankly, this is really what's hampering WinCE . In order to develop apps you have to buy expensive MS tools, whereas on Palm OS, gcc is free.

    I know I'll get accused of mixing free beer vs. free speech, but to MS there's no distinction really, so open sourcing the development tools is merely a way to provide them free and try to pick up WinCE ports of popular Palm OS apps to make them more competitive.

  • i believe they are/or did do a complete rewrite
  • Windows CE's problem is the fact that it's not optimized for the average user to utilize efficiently on a day to day basis.

    Take the example of the PalmOS ... it's fast, efficient, and easy to use ... then take Windows CE, it's slow but powerful in some respects but it wants to be a mini-desktop.

    I honestly think that as long as Windows CE contains "windows", it will never do much against PalmOS, EPOC, or any of the other truly embedded OS.

    Don't get me wrong, there are some good things about CE ... but not enough to have me use it everyday, or even once a week. I only use my CE device for very specialized tasks such as remote .doc file editing or dialing in to get email when I MUST get email. (I have a Casio A-20 w/ PCMCIA modem etc.)

    When it comes to true PDA functions like schedule, phone lists, etc., my Palm Pro wins every time ... soon to be replaced by my Palm IIIx wish I should get from UPS today!

  • Didn't Microsoft actually take an ownership interest in AT+T? I'm sure that it had more to do with just CE deployment. Think about it:

    + WebTV/MSN access on AT+T cable systems, not AOL.
    + MSN DSL and wireless services, where AT+T provides them.
    + Everybody gets MS-NBC.
    + AT+T Internet service is less competitive with MSN.
    + Microsoft can push content standards ('Windows Media' instead of Real, and so on.)

    Scary? Yes, but hardly unique in the conglomorated marketplace of cable tv. At least the cable companies are smart enough to ensure that there are many viable vendors of set top operating systems (unlike the computer industry).

  • My understanding is that Wince is based on a cut down version of the NT kernel. It's certainly not based on DOS.
  • You may well think whatever you want but what you think and the facts may also well diverge.

    WinCE has absolutely nothing to do with Win3.1. CE is a modern OS, pretty modular (you can take out almost anything) and more akin to NT or 98 from an API point of view.

    It was made to be run in a variety of environments, from palm-sized consumer devices to specialized machines. It also run in more than one precessor.

    That said, I hardly believe MS will open-source any of it. And I really prefer my Palm.
  • I've been looking at potentially buying a PDA myself. The main reason is to help organize my workload.

    But the secondary reason is to have something to play with.

    The Palm is cheap and it works.

    The WinCE devices are more expensive, more powerful, and much cooler to play with.

    Thus personally I think it would be cool to have a WinCE device. Somehow the appeal of being able to play Doom and MP3's on a PDA does something for me.

    But in the real world, we go back to my initial desire to simply have something to keep track of my workload. And for that the Palm is simply much better suited. The display can be read outdoors, the applications are much simpler and easier to use.

    And it costs about half what a CE device would run, along with being smaller.

    And that is why the Palm computers sell, and the WinCE ones do not.

    The PDA market is a fickle one. It's been around for over 10 years already, and the only successful entry in that time has been the Palm.

    I just don't think having the source code to the OS is the issue. Sure then maybe WinCE might appeal to a small niche of developers. But the device still won't have the mass appeal that the Palm has.
  • I've done some more research, and it seems that it's not easy, or maybe even possible, to get the WinCE source. The product that I was referring to is the "Platform Builder" for Windows CE... I had read a few articles that said that it included the WinCE source, but other sources (including Microsoft) say that it doesn't. Perhaps the source was available for an earlier version, but it doesn't look like it is now.
  • This has the smell of a GPL violation. One thing I have always wondered is if and, if so, how much does MS violate the GPL? After all, their source is closed so how do you tell?

    Secondly, these MS and Open Source rumors have been floating around for some time. This probably means that the idea has gone through (and left) Bill's mind. Can't we safely say that any such rumor is a hoax?

  • Windows and Wince will never be opensourced. MS might open up the source code to more people but they will never opensource the source code. Just like solaris and java.

    It goes against everything that MS culture is based on. It simply doesn't make sense for them, they have lousy support, they are moving towards a leasing scheme for software licensing (pay-per-use is more likely than opensource) and they are too paranoid and they think they have something worth stealing.

    A Linux version of Office comes out before an opensource version of windows does.

  • The reason I don't use Linux as my main OS: I won't sync with my Nino. (Don't reply saying I should've boughten a Palm, I bought the Nino before I got the urge to use Linux as my main OS). But now I don't want to switch to Linux full-time because it would render my PDA somewhat useless. If the source for CE was released, I could sync with my Linux box. If anyone knows a way to do this, please let me know. I don't know why anyone hasn't started something like this yet.
  • by Kaz Kylheku ( 1484 ) on Tuesday October 19, 1999 @09:43AM (#1601873) Homepage
    Take it from a developer who supports all Win32 platforms from NT Server down to various WinCE devices.

    We have encountered all kinds of issues over the past two years:

    - UDP sockets set to non-blocking block anyway on recv()
    - connects to *non-existent* local TCP ports succeeding!
    - WaitForMultipleObjects hangs forever even with specified timeout.
    - Waiting for process to terminate by waiting on its handle doesn't work

    These are just specific issues I recall off the top of my head.

    Believe me, we have tons of #ifdef _WIN32_WCE occurences.

    The overall user experience is that hangs are frequent.
  • So? The GPL is not, nor should it be, the baseline for open source licensing.
  • The thing that makes me wonder about these ``open sourcing windows/ce/nt/...'' is, that people seem to think that it would be a great thing.

    Well, even if they GPL'ed or BSD'ed (or whatever) one or more of the windows variants, what would we have ? We would have a pretty crappy kernel, a GUI API that's mixed 16/32 bit and not going to 64. We would have one hell of a hard work in front of us, if we'd want to redesign windows to be a capable and stable OS.

    It's much easier (and already happening) to simply stick with the OSS systems of today, and fix the one thing that's lacking there, namely larger applications (for business, CAD, etc.).

    We already have a much better development environment, and games are coming too. We have the kernels, we have the development environments, and they're both far superior to anything windows can offer.

    We're missing the _easy_ parts, the userspace stuff. If we where to fix an open-sourced windows, we would have a problem on our hands larger than we can possibly imagine. Fixing (redesigning) a broken kernel will break the one thing windows has as an advantage, the larger applications. We would have to convince the vendors to rewrite their apps too.

    It's just so much easier for us, and for the ISVs to just write software on a well designed platform once and for all.

    MS can open-source whatever they please. I doubt it would really help.
  • I think that an important point has been overlooked here. With the recent release of Windows NT Embedded 4.0, MS already has a "new" OS to deploy on this kind of platform. Who wants WinCE when you can have NT?

    If they intend to continue the CE line after EmbeddedNT is fully under way, they're going to need a hook to get (and keep) people interested. Free (gratis) worked for IE, free (libre) might help CE.
  • There is no violation.

    Microsoft can "secretly" (or publicly for that matter) port the hell out of GPL'ed tools, mangle them, and use them throughout Microsoft in binary-only form and they wouldn't be doing anything wrong.

    The reason they are in the clear is they are not DISTRIBUTING these modified versions of the GPL'ed software. They are using them internally for proprietary projects, which is perfectly fine, legal, and even desirable.
  • >One thing I have always wondered is if and, if >so, how much does MS violate the GPL? After all, >their source is closed so how do you tell?

    Well from friends who work there, they say they are "not allowed" to look at any Open Source software/Mozilla source/etc, because there is then no way of proving they didn't copy the code into MS code. HTH.
  • One word. WOW.

    I guess it just goes to show you that the characterization of Billy-boy as not one who cares about money above all, but about winning above all, might just be true. Doing something like this almost certainly wouldn't earn them much-- if anything. Seems like they just want to win. Read the recent /. post on the analysis of that BBC interview with Gates... it links to some interesting material on him. Apparently, the guy doesn't care so much about money or putting competitors out of business as merely "winning"...
  • (I'm not the original poster nor do I normally write about RTOS, but I have done embedded RT programming for a living.)

    That palmtop or set-top box might need an RTOS if it wants to interpret data that arrives in realtime, like from a modem or cable data stream. It might need an RTOS to handle controlling an IR port. It might need an RTOS to produce audio or videa without clicks, gaps, or pauses. It might need an RTOS to deal well with timers and events.

    Want your TV remote control to work NOW, not two seconds later, and still guarantee that your VCR records glitch-less audio and video? How are you going to guarantee stuff like that without an RTOS?

  • Suppose that Microsoft takes an open source tool that is covered by the GPL, repackages it and sells it in violation of the GPL. Who's going to sue them? With what bank account?

    I fear that the amount of money that M$ has coule make them pretty much immune from lawsuits unless governments get involved.


  • by DragonHawk ( 21256 ) on Tuesday October 19, 1999 @10:17AM (#1601885) Homepage Journal
    This may be a more important decision than most people would guess.

    Embedded systems are more then just a market segment. If information technology continues to advance itself and permeate our lives as it has so far, embedded systems will become the only market.

    Consider the popular sci-fi future, where computers and IT are ubiquitous. Comptuers are everywhere. In your phone. In your car. In your fridge, your desk, your chair, your wallet, maybe even your body. Can it get any more embedded then that? Is IT likely to stop before it reaches this point, or one like it?

    I don't think so. I think the logical progression is for IT to become omnipresent, like the written word is today. Computers will be everywhere -- embedded in our lives.

    The software that drives those embedded systems could well determine the future of our civilization as we know it.

    It has been demonstrated many times that Open Source Software does well on projects of this scale and impact, and that the benifits in terms of freedom, security, and trust are often overwhelming. While corporate might is not something to be ignored, OSS has both practical and political advantages that only a fool would ignore. It may be that the almighty buck cannot fight OSS well enough to win.

    If that is the case, then it follows that if WinCE is closed source, it will fail. If it is open, it stands a chance (a chance -- no more, no less) of being a core part of the future of the information age.

    If all systems are embedded, and MS is not a part of that, then MS will quickly die, very like so many big mainframe vendors did when micros took over.

    This decision could be more then simple politics. It could be bigger then the industry. It could well impact the universal communication medium of the forseeable future.

    Is this an extreme case, a maximzation of possible influence? Yes, it is. I am taking this to extremes to demonstrate a point. This may be no more then a small pop in a sea of noise. However, it has the potential to be a shot heard 'round the world.

    Something to think about.

    It is interesting, living in these times.
  • "Free for non-commercial use" is way old, but doesn't provide the kind of freedom open source gives you, since you are still dependend on a single company for commercial support.

    Alladin Ghostscript is a lot more free than that, though. You are free to make money using Alladin Ghostscript, and even distribute it commercially under some circumstances. The _real_ win with the Alladin Ghostscript license is the time-out clause. After some time it reverts to a true open source license, which mean your dependency on Alladin isn't forever.
  • You *do* realize that by your definition nearly every OS is real-time, and particularly linux? After all, if you press a key you don't want to wait forever for it to appear on the screen.

  • This is the opposite reason I bought my CE machine. It was cheaper than the palms with equivalent features. Maybe when the Visors come out I'll switch.
  • if it's that vague and technical, I think we can all count on Microsoft to begin abusing that term any day now.

    "The number of suckers born each minute doubles every 18 months."
  • by Colin Smith ( 2679 ) on Tuesday October 19, 1999 @10:22AM (#1601891)
    MS aren't up against Palm OS. They know very well that the system they are up against is "Epoc" and not Palm OS do you want to know why?

    All the mobile phones from all the major manufacturers will run Epoc as their operating system in the future.

    MS know that palmtops and phones will merge into personal communication devices and it's Epoc that's driving this... Wince just doesn't stack up against Epoc and MS know it.

  • Check out:


    This covers syncing WinCE from linux.

    It wont do all that fancy shtuff like email, etc., but looks a far cry better than the old pointy stick in the eye.
  • The difference is that a real time OS will allow you to know what the hard bound of the response will be. The worst case is PREDICTABLE.

    Normal Linux scheduling will not do this.

    This is really the essence of what real time is.
  • Making WinCE apps portable to Palm would kill off WinCE?

    Sorry, that didn't work for the Macintosh. There are several Windows emulators for Mac, and Windows is (sadly) not dead.

    "The number of suckers born each minute doubles every 18 months."
  • Since when were the babblings and opinions of an editor the opinions of Microsoft?
  • > So we, the open source community, spend our time and effort developing tools and MS packs them up and sells them

    Of course Micorsoft may not get the results they're hoping for (they rarely do with anything they try anymore). After all, when a Windows administrator realizes that s/he's using Linux compatible tools to do his/her work under Windows, s/he may well ask what the money spent on Windows is actually providing.

    And of course, it also lowers the retraining cost of converting over to Linux.

    It's October 6th. Where's W2K? Over the horizon again, eh?
  • by killbill ( 10058 ) on Tuesday October 19, 1999 @10:47AM (#1601899) Homepage
    With the Handspring Visor shipping yesterday, the new TRG palm compatible unit shipping in December, and 3com lowering prices across the board, the deathnell for wince has sounded.

    You can now get a very nice entry level Palm for around $156, and a very nice high end unit for anywhere from $220 (palm IIIx) to $249 (visor deluxe).

    These amazing little things just dissapear into your life as an indespensible tool. The darn things are so usefull, reliable, and unobtrusive you forget they are even computers. The three pilots I have owned (I keep upgrading and selling to friends) have been MORE reliable then the paper franklin planner they replaced (as the pilot almost always survives a drop, and the planner would often pop it's ring clips and spread my pages all over the street).

    Wince devices, on the other hand, retail for 2 to 3 times the price of a palm unit, have a (well deserved) reputation for being poorly designed and nearly useless in the real world, and have little to no third party software support (relative to the Palm devices, anyway).

    Microsoft has blown it too many times... they cannot seem to comprehend that a PDA is not and should not be some sort of ultra small laptop. They only stayed in the game as long as they have because of the massive amounts of $$capitol$$ being hemmoraged by Microsoft, and because 3com was trying to offset terrible losses in other divisions by gouging on the price of the very successfull Pilot.

    That was then, and Palm was winning hands down. Now:

    1) The palm OS is available and affordable to third party hardware makers. Already, prices on Palm hardware are half what they were, and very usable units are quickly approaching the $100 level.

    2) Companies and developers, such as Philips, are sick of pouring money down a rathole, and are abandoning the platform.

    3) The potential customer base has seen three versions of wince, none of which have been particulary usefull for a pda platform. All have had SERIOUS problems with desktop synchronization, resource consumption, backwards compatibility, and usability.

    "Game over man". If this story is true, it is Microsoft trying a last minute punt to transition away from PDA's and into real time operating systems (where developers are smart enough to demand exclusively open software).

    Bill Kilgallon
  • > They picked a super competitive market, no wonder they are worried.

    Weren't they making noises last week about starting to push WinCE as a server OS, as a way of finding a niche for it since it doesn't have legs in the embedded OS market?

    It's October 6th. Where's W2K? Over the horizon again, eh?
  • Put it in the hands of 1000's of people, it's bound to come back much better. Cuts his costs and maybe keeps CE in the game.

    Of *course* that's what he wants. But is that what he'll get? I doubt it. First of all, if it's even open source, it will not be *free*. You'll be able to patch it for Microsoft, but not use/redistribute it yourself.

    Who's going to just give their code away for free, with no retribution? Not me, I want something in return for my work. I want total redistribution rights, to begin with.

    So MS will open source CE, and it'll be a dismal failure. Berst will then write an article pointing out that all the hype about Open Source was wrong. *sigh*

  • If anyone is interested, NetBSD is already booting on WinCE hardware, check it out [netbsd.org].
  • You are perfectly right that if nobody wishes to take these ports/manglings public, they're free and clear.
    You're totally wrong about internal use- there is no concept of internal or external in the GPL, nor is there any concept of boss or subordinate. It concerns itself entirely with legal entities, as in people, and _pointedly_ avoids any further distinctions.
    As such, if everybody at Microsoft wants to pass binaries and source around among each other (or binaries and make source available if requested), they're golden, they can do that forever, entirely compliant with the GPL.
    ANY INDIVIDUAL who has the binary or source has full rights to distribute it anywhere he or she likes, warez groups, the front page of Slashdot, sky's the limit! EVERY single person working with or using such tools has the full unrestricted privileges under the GPL, explicitly spelled out as equivalent to anybody else. Their employment is irrelevant and does not enter into the contract at all- the license agreement specifically authorises EVERY ONE of them as a legitimate redistributor free to redistribute any way they see fit compliant only to the constraints of the GPL.
    Any restrictions that curtail these rights are not compatible with the GPL and are not tolerated- if you can't work with the GPL as written it's not allowed to work with it at all. If you are not being allowed to share your source with the outside world if _YOU_ so desire, then you're not allowed to work with the source at all...
    So, there are two possibilities. Either ANY of the people working on such a project are entitled to share it with us outside world people anytime they feel like it (and if they don't _want_ to that's OK too, but no coercion!), or they are violating the part of the contract stating that the GPL is incompatible with other outside restrictions being put on. There's no two ways about it.
    So, then... Microsofties, which is it? Do you feel like filling us in on what's happening to any GPLed source you might be working with? It's your privilege to decline, but if you feel like sharing, not only will you be doing a nice thing for us, you'll be proving to the world that Microsoft is not violating the GPL by illegally and against the requirements of the license agreement restricting you from exercising the rights granted you under the GPL >:)
    So how about it? Are you being allowed to obey the requirements of the legally binding license agreement, or are you being forced to break the law by threats of punitive action? >:)
  • Well, I've always heard that Microsoft never gets any product right until version 3.

    This reminds me of a CNN article discussing WinCE's future [cnn.com]. A quote from the article:

    And IDC's House points out CE is still a young product. "It hasn't reached its third release, and the third release is the charm for Microsoft operating systems," she says, referring to the success of Windows 3.0 and NT 3.0.

    Interestingly enough, the first public release of Win NT was 3.0. If I recall correctly, Win 3.0 beta was written to be uncompatible with a non-Microsoft DOS (i.e., DR-DOS). This was also around the time of them dropping the joint MS-IBM OS/2 project. To me, saying that Microsoft doesn't get anything "right until version 3" is rather misleading. This implies that their third release was successful due to a superior product, not marketing or strong-arm tactics.
  • Two things:
    1) Microsoft is claiming WINCE, in addition to running batteries down on palm computers, is a realtime OS (its not). They envision blood monitors and such running WINCE (ACK!!!).
    2) Real time at the interrupt level on Linux? Perhaps you have a different definition of realtime than I do. Having the SCSI layer turn off interrupts for 10ms at a time kills any deterministic response more than that. And god forbit you're running an IDE hard drive with UDMA! Unless you were speaking of RT/Linux, but that's an entirely different (and spartan) beast.
  • So we, the open source community, spend our time and effort developing tools and MS packs them up and sells them.
    And how is this a bad thing? What this would result in is:

    Microsoft accepts that Open Source software is a viable alternative to Microsoft's in-house products

    Microsoft is required (by the license) to release the source code with their distribution.

    Microsoft is required (by the license) to release all changes they have made to the source code So now, your average Microsofty will see Open Source in a better light. They may also ask, if I can see the source to this software, why won't they give me the source to that software.

    Once one Sheep is over the dam...

  • Which is why I don't think a STB doesn't need a RTOS. It really doesn't matter if you know the worst case of system response as long as it *does* respond in a rough period of time.
  • It's not Free Software, but you can get access to the PalmOS 3.0 source by signing up as a Palm developer. You don't get everything, cuz the kernel was licensed from KADAK, I believe.
  • ANY INDIVIDUAL who has the binary or source has full rights to distribute it anywhere he or she likes, warez groups, the front page of Slashdot, sky's the limit

    At the same time, they would be disclosing previously proprietary code, likely violating an NDA. Sure, they'd be exercising their "legal" right per the GPL, but they'd be breaking contract (and perhaps law, depending on the nature of the modifications) by doing so.

    Additionally, can coder X at Microsoft be legally forced to give the source code to coder Y at Microsoft merely because the item in question happens to be based on GPL'd code?

    If the GPL forbids this sort of thing, this has got to be a bad thing. Companies would then be almost totally unable to customize GPL'd programs for use with proprietary (and likely secret) systems. Some code might include proprietary algorithms or things they don't necessarily want the public to have. If things are as you say, it would be impossible for them to do this legally. This can't be good.

    And what about that whole Corel mess a while back? Everyone jumped on the GPL gun then, and Corel was able to (understandably and legally, as far as I know) justify their position by saying the software wasn't being released to the general public. Why is this such a bad thing?
  • Wait till you see all the source.
  • Exactly...people should read this stuff a little more carefully..

    Take this as a win people, and nothing more... Why a win? Open Source is about the creation of software using the world's largest and weirdest dev environment - namely, thousands of people on the net...

    I for one am proud that M$ have found that the Open Source tool are superior.. proves our point yet again.
  • It's a moot point, since they aren't going to release it under the GPL license.

  • Don't forget that tools that they can only use internally are not of very high benefit in this case. Some comments said that you can buy source code licenses of WinCE. If they give a GPLed tool to one of their partners, they automatically have to pass on its source code and the right for distribution under the GPL.

    GPLed code doesn't like to be confined - it's used to being free.


  • Put it in the hands of 1000's of people, it's
    bound to come back much better. Cuts his costs
    and maybe keeps CE in the game.
  • It could be like Aladdin Ghostscript, where it's free as long as it's free, but if you use it to make money, you have to license it.
  • by EngrBohn ( 5364 ) on Tuesday October 19, 1999 @08:41AM (#1601920)
    According to the article, the rumors are
    • MS WinCE team has concluded that open source development tools are superior to MS' WinCE development tools
    • MS is secretly funding ports of these tools to CE
    The author then asks whether MS will take the next step and open-source WinCE, and answers his own question as "unlikely".
    Christopher A. Bohn
  • It wont be open source like we know and love.

    I'd be amazed if there werent terms like Sun's community liscence, to prevent it working well with other OS's, and to prevent bits being borrowed from WinCE by Linux and the BSD's.

    Yes, I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt as to whether there'd be anything worth taking :)

    Epoc forever!
  • by rde ( 17364 ) on Tuesday October 19, 1999 @08:42AM (#1601922)
    last week some time, there was one of those instant poll thingies so beloved of us all on CNN. The question was which PDA OS do you use. The answer, overwhelmingly (at the time) was Palm.
    Microsoft do not dominate the PDA market. Anything they do, therefore, is solely to beat Palm. And I'm sure lots of geeks know about palm beating.
  • why did M$FT have to pay AT&T $5 billion to agree to use it in set-top boxes? And it's not even an exclusive deal.
  • ...and how much independent source code? i.e. how much of the windows 9x and NT code will be seen if windows CE is open-sourced? Surely Bill would never allow any part of a product to be opensourced if it gave away too much about other products. It might reveal stuff about the API and -shock-horror- might allow other people to write other programs that might even (even bigger shock-horror) use an open document type that could actually allow things to be transfered from CE 'boxen' to other computers....
  • by Bwah ( 3970 ) <RndmNmbr&gmail,com> on Tuesday October 19, 1999 @08:45AM (#1601926)
    and it's really quite simple. Ignoring Linux completely, there are a LOT of really really good RTOS and non real time embedded OSes out there. For free. And they are already mature.

    Take OAR's [oarcorp.com] RTEMS for example. It's small. It's quick. It has an IP stack. It runs on everything. It supports Ada. It supports multiple procs of different types. It's been around a long time.

    CE has only 1 "feature" to make it stand out from the pack (IMHO) and that's the fact that the API tracks another non-RT os. Big deal. I don't think this has been enough to really launch it into it's target market yet.

    I mean, good grief, look at the number of COMMERCIAL real time OSes out on the market right now that have been around for longer than CE. They picked a super competitive market, no wonder they are worried.

    speaking of embedded ... back to work. argh.

  • If they do they would be advised to be running Linux mail servers to handle the incomming email concerning hacks and comments on the code base (not to mention all the "Why M$ sux" spam).

    I won't hold my breath, however.

  • Yeah but it makes lots of sense....

    ...To Microsoft. They really don't care about "Open Source", they just want to cash in. So they'll figure out some way that they can be able to say that it is Open Source, without the actually disadvantages of open source. (Which means letting others freely use the code) Then when they fail to take over the market *still*, they'll just cry that Open Source really doesn't work.

    If I know Microsoft, they'll want to keep their Monopoly, even if they open the source code. This isn't going to be like Linux, where all distributors have an equal field. Even if MS allows redistribution, they'll be very convincing that you'd better use their version, or it *may* be incompatible.

    Yes, the same argument about whether it's a good idea to split Windows up into mulitple closed source companies. No difference with Microsoft.

  • The reason they are in the clear is they are not DISTRIBUTING these modified versions of the GPL'ed software. They are using them internally for proprietary projects, which is perfectly fine, legal, and even desirable.

    Are you sure about that? My understanding of the word "distributing" doesn't say anything about whether it's internal or external. Much like the word "copying".
  • IBIWISI - i'll believe it when i see it.
  • by NovaX ( 37364 ) on Tuesday October 19, 1999 @12:13PM (#1601932)
    You have to be kidding. Why would this be a violation if MS is secretly, publicly, or not at all porting GPL code from a UNIX platform to the Windows CE platform? That doesn't mean they take the code and incorperate it in their work, it means they get more, and supposedly better development tools on one of their platforms. MS would do this secretly because they've accepted the role as anti-open source (which I think was forced on them, btw). If they 'embraced' open source in publicly by doing the porting publicly, wouldn't every slashdot zealot automaticly claim this proves open source (and likely I'd guess they'd mean GPL open source) is superior?

    They're likely not doing the porting just for internal use, because they want others to develope for CE so its superior on embedded applications. MS already has development tools, but 3rd party groups may not want to pay for them, etc. Microsoft is merely using the tools at hand, and one of them is open source. The more choice for developers, and the more freedom, the faster and more successful a platform evolves. Thus, automaticly creating FUD (the propiganda that MS might be intentially breaking the GPL, though without any hint of proof, or an argument for it) is just useless.

    Anyways, I assume MS will silently get the open source development tools ported and public, and do their best to make it look like it comes from a 3rd party. That, or they neglect the idea entirely.
  • it would be so ugly that all Linux programers would turn to stone. And you tought that Medusa was a myth...

    Did you mean 'hacker' or 'cracker'?
    Do you know the diffrence? I don't think you do.

  • I agree with several of your points, but please:

    > Nobody wants or needs to run multiple apps on a PDA at once.

    We've heard that argument on the desktop in the '80s; it was wrong then, and it still is wrong today. While you might not feel you need multiple windowed apps visible at once, you very well need all sorts of background processes. Once you start differentiating between "real apps" and "background processes" you paint yourself into the Mac Desktop Accessory corner. After establishing that your device really MUST do more than one thing at once, do the right thing and multitask properly. It can be done very efficiently in little memory. Multitasking isn't what bloats OSs.

    I think a lot of people confuse lots of onscreen windows--a busy interface--with multitasking. You can still have a simple, highly focused GUI on top of an agressively multitasking OS.

    > Nobody want's or needs a "voice recorder".

    Which "nobody" is that? Certainly not this one. That's the one feature I hate the Handspring Visor for not having. Just because WinCE devices have recording and are bloated doesn't mean recording implies bloat--except for the created data files, I guess. I often find myself in traffic trying to graffity in a reminder on the Pilot; a nicely integrated voice recorder would be SO much nicer. Depends all on how you integrate it into the whole.
  • There's one REALLY notable exception to this.

    One of the things that has been holding Linux back (to its detractors) is the lack of perceived compatibility and interoperability. If you've got Windoze source code, suddenly... Wine is at least as compatible with Windoze as the various versions of Windoze are with each other, Samba for Linux suddenly works flawlessly, Linux supports ActiveX, DCOM, DirectX, etc., etc.

    Now, you may be able to argue that "xyz technology sucks, why the heck would we want a Linux version" but first, do you think it will still suck after being re-written by the Open Source community, and second, news flash, most of the world doesn't care. Joe Q. Executive doesn't give a wet slap whether CORBA is technically superior to DCOM, and Bob Gamehead just wants his DirectX games to run. If suddenly Linux talks to all the big app packages, well... it's not too hard to see world domination in sight. :)

    Basically, if you're Micro$oft, Windows+Linux = Windows; but if you're the Open Source community, Windows+Linux = Linux with more features.

  • You can't _have_ proprietary code mixed with the GPL, Fastolfe. That's why it's 'tainting'. The license is incompatible with other restrictions. It's quite clear about this.
    Yes, if you wanted to get technical and legalistic about it, coder X could be forced to give the source to coder Y because the license is GPL. There's no such thing as code that's based on GPLed code and gets to ignore the rules. That's why it's called tainting, and if you (you the programmer) don't like it, base your work off of some other code that isn't GPLed. You can't diminish the legal force of the license agreement by wishing it away. Microsoft themselves would not wish to cast doubt on license agreements being binding.
    The GPL is a Berlin Wall of code. It's like that on purpose and those of us who use it and defend it want it that way. It was written to be uncompromising, and to stay uncompromising.
    Companies not being able to customise GPLed programs for use with proprietary code is a GOOD thing. There's always BSD if you must do that, or why not just stay totally proprietary if you can't cooperate? But no- people expect to be able to use someone else's free code and exploit it and do nothing to match its spirit. The GPL says 'no way'. Write your own code if you must keep secrets, and much good may they do you as they'll probably be challenged in patent violation suits anyhow.
    As for Corel, they changed their terms. At no point did their methods of distribution change a thing. The license agreement says NOTHING about internal versus external distribution. The reality seems to be that distribution is 'passing from one legal entity to another'. Corel distributes every time a new person gets a copy of the binary or source. General public has nothing to do with it- legal terminology is LITERAL, and the GPL does not make exemptions for betas or anything else. It is _always_ in effect. That's why it's called 'tainting'. Making a smokescreen about this weakens the GPL by causing people to believe things about the license which are not supported in the wording of the license. Think literal literal literal, it's all about the most literal interpretation you can find, with no allowances for common sense or your desires. Hey, that's what the law is all about!
  • If I interpret the GPL correctly, you are not allowed to work with GPLed code if you are under legal obligation that prevents you from fully upholding the provisions of the GPL. Either you are legally able to distribute what you have with complete freedom, or you don't have legal permission to be working with the GPLed code at all. That means if there is an NDA or contract involved, it does not mean the (nonsensical) result that you are compelled to break the other contract: it means that you are not permitted to work on the GPLed code under those conditions.
    So if you have reason to worry about this, get yer paws off the GPLed code 'cause you aren't contractually allowed to work freely ;P :)
  • What might be nice, is a free-ish sort of licence arangement like developers can take with IE, that is you get the SDK, register and muck with IE (to the limit allowed :) until it suites your particular installation. Then touch base with M$ every 6 months or so to hand over all your great ideas.

    I see this as a major advantage for a business to take up IE, because it can be moulded it's easier to distribute and maintain.

    At our place here, the field guys take laptops out so they can do data entry in one app, then take this back to the office and transfer it to the *real* db.

    If we could mess with CE a bit (ie cut out the crap) we could have a small front end to our DB (existing front end in VB5) as a single use CE device for real lot cheaper (initial and maintenance) than a laptop.

    This is the only advantage I can see to opening up CE, apart from seeing just how messy these guys code realy is :)

  • You know CE is based upon the same code as 9x/NT. You know how much fun we could have with that?

    I think that would be a great move for MS. Everyone is on them to go open-source. Since the ce code is basically like 9x/nt code, the benefits the code would receive under the gnu liscence (or similar) could be implemented into win2000 or theyre next viable release...

    Instead of complaining about Windows, Why dont we help wiht it?
  • But that's not Open Source, of course.
  • Microsoft's goal has to be to increase WinCE's market share. Handheld computing profits are not in the OS, but in the hardware and the applications. The more widespread WinCE is, the more M$ can make on CE Office products. The only way CE is going to beat PalmOS and Linux in the embedded market is to open source and offer additional benefits (i.e. multi-platform support, increased hardware support, more extendable OS, etc.) Linux is not ready for the palm computing world, probably will not be for awhile. If Microsoft can enhance WinCE now by allowing more people to develop for the platform, they can compete with PalmOS. Will this happen? I don't know.
    Gregory J. Barlow
    fight bloat. use blackbox [themes.org].
  • I can certainly see them making it "free" like IE to capture the market, with fairly generous source code licensing to manufacturing partners (it's not that hard to get the WinCE compared to, say, the Win2000 source code). This could help convince some manufacturers, but I think that opening the source would be a little dangerous. It would be too easy to clone the APIs and the interesting parts of the system. Of course, it would force Palm to, basically, do the same thing, just as they hit Netscape.
    They'd also run into possible "dumping" laws in the antitrust world, since it would be SUCH a transparent attempt to cut off the PalmOS's lifeline.
  • Are you the same person who writes about Real Time operating systems as an AC? Why, oh why, would we need a real-time OS in a palmtop, or a set-top box? Why in any consumer appliance? What little real-time services these devices need, they can get at interrupt level as they do in Linux.


  • Yeah but it makes lots of sense.
  • I think that if we look at what could happen with this we'd find it would have some major effects through the open source community
    Microsoft will have to lure the typically open source developer to even spend the bandwidth to download it, much less develop it.
    This is well within their means -- in fact probably would be cheaper for them to bring out a few hunder OSS developers than paying for in house development
    The major problem is not from that - but from the media hype that would ensue.
    The major argument against 'open source' is that it's not commercially backed -- if Microsoft releases something that they are calling open source, regardless of it's actual license (I'd die of a heart attack if I saw wince under the GPL)
    As the media says, "Microsoft is doing Open Source, you should too" the open source craze could get magnified by a thousand times, and Microsoft could shoot themselves in the foot with this. That would rock. :)
    Of course it could just be another method to show that Microsoft is better than *nix/open source software/et al. because they have their own open source.
    Either way if this actually happens some serious changes will occur in the community -- I'm hoping Microsoft shoots themselves :)

    -= Making the world a better place =-
  • by DanaL ( 66515 )
    I would be curious to know what aspect of OSS they are trying to benefit from. Are they interested in seeing WinCE ported to lots of different architectures? Do they just want users to fix their bugs for them? Or do they just open source hype?

    I agree with the other commentators that we would most likely see a SCSL-type deal.

    Possibly they want to use the hype to steal mindshare from PalmOS? "We're open source, PalmOS isn't!"?

  • by SheldonYoung ( 25077 ) on Tuesday October 19, 1999 @09:03AM (#1601973)
    Lets assume Microsoft does open source Windows CE. What do we gain? We'll be able to ead the source and see what it really does, and maybe us programmers can fix the occasional bug in our own personal copies.

    Will we be able to create our own distributions of Windows CE? Almost definitely not. Will we be able to fix the the underlying architecture problems? Very unlikely. Open source doesn't mean we can do what we want with it, just that it's also available in a alternative format to binary.

    So what we would gain with an open source Windows CE is the ability to see what the OS is really doing, which is very useful for application developers.

    I've got a Casio E-100 and love the hardware to pieces. Unfortunately, Windows CE drags its otherwise speedy 131 MhZ processor to almost a standstill. It's so bad it can't be anything but an architecture problem.

    Check out the Linux port to Palm-sized and handheld PCs. It shows great promise of being able to replace Windows CE on handhelds soon.
    LinuxCE [linuxce.org].

All science is either physics or stamp collecting. -- Ernest Rutherford