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The History of Microsoft Windows CE - Windows CE 5.0

Windows CE 5.0, Codename Macallan was announced at the beginning of 2003. While not scheduled for release until Q3/4 2004 some details of the release are known.

Macallan was originally to be billed against the Windows codename Longhorn release. Due to delays in the Windows release time line caused by Windows XP security concerns, and the subsequent extended internal audit which pushed the Windows developer groups to spending time on Windows XP SP2 instead of Longhorn development. The Windows CE 5.0 release happened well in advance of heavily delayed Longhorn (not expected mid 2006).

Some of the main achievements of CE5 have been to improve the Storage capabilities of Mobile devices, as well as improving the file system that the Operating System uses.
With Windows CE 5, technologies have been made available to OEM's, particularly the Platform OEM's for the Windows Mobile 5.0 release which allow for in-place patching (QFE) of the FlashROM based operating system. In past releases OEM's needed to either issue a completely new Flash image complete with bug fixes and updates, or issue a memory resident patch, which would be lost at the point of complete power failure.
This technology should see consumer Windows Mobile 5.0 devices reach a new level of security and robustness, though at the time of writing on devices are commercially available which make use of the technology.
One speculative wish that hasn't been addressed for the Windows CE 5.0 release, is a solution to the Storage Card / Internal Memory separation. Where by all volumes are mounted as unique entities in the main fling system, rather than being seen to augment main memory. Despite the apparent difficulties with achieving this - when approaching it from the view of the Windows filing system architecture, this is something that the original Pegasus team said they would address back in 1996 after the Windows CE 1.0 release.

CE5 will compliment Longhorn in other ways. Through the adoption and refinement of new and existing communications protocols, Macallan supports the Smart Display Remote Protocol (Codenamed Mira), allowing the CE5 based 'remote display' device to act as an extension to the desktop PC workspace through the use of the Remote Desktop Protocol.

Improved developer tools are also part of the Windows CE 5.0 mantra. For the first time in the history of Windows, Microsoft has opted to provide Platform Builders the ability to view and modify over 2.5 million lines of the Windows CE source code. Named the Microsoft Shared Source Directive (MSSD), device developers can make custom modifications to the underlying makeup of the operating system, without any obligation to share those changes back to Microsoft. Unlike the Open Source world, dominated by the GNU GPL concept. Platform Builders are not obligated to share their modifications with other OEM's or competitors.
Work has also been undertaken on the expandability of the Platform Builder. New ways of integrating technological advances that emerge post CE5 RTM have been tackled. This new functionality will allow OEM's, for the first time to incorporate new hardware technology specifications into their devices, even if the original CE5 platform doesn't support it. 802.11i, 802.11n and WPA2 are all examples of augmentable technology which can be written into the Platform Builder.

A certain amount of device 'intelligence' is also incorporated into CE5. Improved UPnP support will make devices location aware, better supporting different networks and security systems. A new system called Location Services will allow applications on the device to adapt to the users physical presence. For example having one layout while at home and a more formal ergonomic layout and display of information while in the office.

For the mobile gamer the Macallan release promises to provide significant advancement. While DirectX subsets have been incorporated into Windows CE since the 3.0 Platform Builder refresh. CE5 boasts full DirectX 8 Direct3D support in the form of Direct3D Mobile. Allowing mobile devices and game developers to make use of advanced 3D graphics.

Windows Mobile 5.0

Windows Mobile 5.0 extends upon the Windows Embedded platform lineage bringing greater functionality and performance improvements to the struggling Pocket PC and SmartPhone product lines.

Windows CE 5.0 Release History

  • CE 5.0 Core (Macallan, 9th July 2004)
  • CE 5.0 Windows Mobile 5.0 (Magneto, Beta 1t Feb 16th 2005, RTM 10th May 2005, P/PC & SmartPhone release)
  • CE 5.0 Windows Automotive 5.0 (12th July 2005; Successor to Windows Automotive .net)
  • CE 5.0 Networked Media Device (NMD) Feature Pack (Tomatin, 4th April 2006)
  • CE 5.0 Windows Mobile 5.0 Second Edition (Crossbow)

AcitveSync 4.x is the formal Sync Client for Windows CE 5.0 generation devices. For more on the lineage of ActiveSync 4.x click here.

Windows CE 5.0 Screenshots | Handheld PC Device List


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