"The beginning is always
a very good place to start..."
The History of Windows CE : Contents
Author: Chris Tilley
- Humble Beginnings
- Windows CE 1.x
- Windows CE 1.0
- Windows CE 1.01
- Windows CE 2.x
- Windows CE 2.0
- Palm PC 1.0
- Windows CE 2.10
- Windows CE 2.11
- H/PC Professional
- Palm-Size PC 1.1
- Palm-Size PC 1.2
- Windows CE 2.12
- Windows CE 3.0
- Pocket PC 2000
- Handheld PC 2000
- Pocket PC 2002
- Windows CE 4.x
- Windows CE 4.0 .net
- Windows CE 4.1 Net
- Windows CE 4.2 Net
- Windows Mobile 2003
- Windows Mobile 2003 SE
- Windows CE 5.0
- Windows Mobile 5.0
- Windows CE 6.0
- Into the future
The Microsoft Corporation first released their scaled down version
of Windows 95, Windows CE (some say this stands for "Compact
Edition" or "Consumer Electronics" although Microsoft
dispute this) Version 1 in the November of 1996. It was designed
to be user friendly, easy to use and familiar (To users of Windows
discuss the development of Windows CE we have to look back to the
Summer of 1992. The inaugural steps of some of the technologies
that would later dominate the Windows CE world can be traced back
to 1990, however the initial motions at creating a Mobile Windows
device heralded in 1992.
The WinPad project was a commitment by Microsoft to
change the way users interacted with Windows. The idea was to invigorate
innovations by changing the platform by which we were all familiar
into something radically different. Microsoft's aim was to make
these changes by modifying the scope of the Windows 16 (Win16) code
into a new x86 platform. By 1994, Microsoft had signed on seven
of the worlds largest OEM's into the WinPad project. The
names included Compaq, Motorola, NEC and Sharp, names that would
later come to dominate the Handheld PC markets.
Unfortunately WinPad was ahead of it's time. Containing technologies
such as handwriting recognition. The supporting hardware technologies in 1994
were not up the standards required to run the modified Windows code. With the
commercial use of 32-bit processors only starting to become standard, the CPU's
and and Memory architecture were not powerful or efficient enough to take the
loads required by the considerable advancements made in the software. Secondly,
battery technology in 1994 was not cheap enough nor able to maintain useful
functionality for long enough when using standard PC hardware.
After repeated discussion with both their OEM partners as well as focus groups.
Microsoft withdrew operations on WinPad and cancelled the project completely
in the Autumn of 1994.
At the same time a second project was also quietly getting underway within
Redmond Codename Pulsar, the concept was to create a wireless,
general use consumer device which would be akin to a "Pager on Steroids".
The idea was based around creating a simple to use multifunction device, with
a small amount of input functions (just a few buttons) and couple it with a
radically different hardware setup. To Microsoft, this was an appealing prospect
as it would enable them to break away from the complex, and often complicated
PC software market and focus on simplifying their technologies for what Bill
Gates and the thinkers within Microsoft increasingly believe would be the future.
Unfortunately the world again was not ready for such a device, with research
and feedback groups forced Microsoft to abandon the project.
Despite the setback, Microsoft knew that they were on the right track with
their basic ideas for how to create mobile devices. This belief was gradually
reinforced through the successes realised by Apple and Psion with their mobile
offerings. Unfortunately in the early part of the 1990's the consumer market
was not geared up to such technologies, especially on the scale Microsoft envisioned.
With several player already in the market on a small scale, and only a virgining
level of consumer interest Microsoft was forced to wait for the technological
and market factors to catch up before they could act.
During this time Microsoft took onboard the lessons learnt from
both the WinPad and Pulsar projects, opting to take
what was right from both development paths and bring them together.
In the December of 1994, shortly after the WinPad project
was disbanded the teams working separately on WinPad and
Pulsar were brought together to form one development group.
The group was named Pegasus.
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