With this release, Microsoft is offering the entire Windows CE kernel through its Shared Source program, whereas before the company only offered portions of the kernel.
It's also offering source code from device drivers, parts of the networking stack, the file system and event scheduler, according to Mukund Ghangurde, group product manager for Windows Embedded CE at Microsoft (Quote).
Windows CE has been around for a decade and has gained quite a bit of use in smartphones, PDAs, set-top boxes and other consumer devices. It's doing quite well, growing 47 percent in 2006 over the prior year. This is the first year that Microsoft's Mobile and Embedded division has been profitable.
"We're scaling up for the next few years," said Ghangurde. "This gives plenty of headroom for device makers. Once they standardize on it, they can stay with it for 10 years. As their devices get more powerful they can add more functionality."
Microsoft obviously expects some heavy-duty application development to take place, because it has integrated the Windows CE Platform Builder integrated development environment (IDE) into Visual Studio Professional 2005, its IDE for professional developers.
Visual Studio 2005 comes with Windows Embedded CE 6.0 for no extra charge, and the Windows CE 6.0 development package is the same price as 5.0, $995.
Microsoft has added a new cellular phone support component called cell-core, which allows Windows CE-based devices to connect with cellular networks, including sending and receiving calls, either voice calls or machine-to-machine data exchanges.