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A Sneak Peek at the Next Windows CE

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Microsoft took the wraps off a preview of the
next level of its Windows operating environment for non-PC devices Monday.

The company announced its Technology Preview Kit for Windows CE 5.0. The OS is designed to give small-footprint devices such as PDAs,
digital cameras, printers, scanners and retail point-of-sale terminals the same graphics and multimedia experience as their desktop counterparts.

Previously code-named “Macallan,” version 5.0 adds in features such as Fast
Start to support a growing number of IP gateways, gaming devices, and

Microsoft released its Windows CE 4.2 with its support of several technologies including voice over IP (VoIP) nearly a year ago. This
year, the company said the new 32-bit OS will also support Direct3D Mobile, a Component Object Model (COM)-based programming model and graphics program
built on Microsoft’s desktop DirectX technology. Microsoft said it has also
increased its support for embedded hardware with more than 50 drivers and
chipsets, such as ARM, MIPS, SuperH and x86.

The developer’s preview also comes less than a week after Microsoft
chairman Bill Gates wooed
at its VSLive conference to make what the company calls “seamless connections” between Windows software and people’s lives.

Microsoft is expected to hand out copies of the Technology Preview Kit to attendees at this week’s Embedded Systems Conference in San Francisco. The company said the preview would also be available for download at the Windows Embedded Web site on April 1. The final product is scheduled to be available
during summer 2004.

Microsoft corporate vice president of the Mobile and Embedded Devices Division, Ya-Qin Zhang, said the release is an important milestone for Windows CE “because it reflects ongoing feedback we’ve received from customers to enable them to build embedded devices even more quickly.”

One request Microsoft heard from its customers was they wanted the ability to switch between the graphics-driven development toolbox
and the command-prompt-line.

“Unifying the tools capabilities is a brilliant move for Windows CE.
Being able to work in one unified development environment where you only
need to use that one toolset for building, debugging and deploying an
operating system image will save OEMs a lot of time by reducing complex
development issues,” said Doug Boling of Boling Consulting, an embedded
consultant and training firm for corporations. “All the benefits of the
command line are now exposed through the graphical IDE, making the Windows
CE tools extremely easy to use.

The company said its new Windows Error Reporting also helps developers
run performance monitoring for in-field devices so OEMs can continually
improve and update devices they have already shipped.

Already, more than 60 companies are participating in Microsoft’s Joint
Development Partner program (JDP), including OEMs , silicon vendors and integrators such as Intel , LG Electronics,
Samsung, ViewSonic, Biostar Group, Costron, Humax, InFocus,
and Intermec Technologies.

“The new security features will shorten our custom development time, and the error reporting technologies will provide us with customer usage data to further improve our products over time.” Intermec vice president Richard

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