FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (06/15/2000) - The new version of Windows CE, Microsoft Corp.'s operating system designed to be embedded in devices, can now be ordered, along with its application development tools, the company announced Thursday.
This new version of Windows CE has been designed for devices that run 32-bit applications and connect to the Internet.
This is a significant upgrade to Windows CE because Microsoft has increased the performance capabilities of the operating system and of the development tools and also because the new pricing structure makes the product more competitive, an analyst said.
"They have been listening to the marketplace and responding to customers' and developers' requests," said Paul Zorfass, a senior analyst of embedded systems at International Data Corp. (IDC) in Framingham, Massachusetts, in a phone interview Thursday.
Microsoft also lowered the cost of Windows CE 3.0 run-time licenses, which will ship within 30 days, and will provide "selected source code" to developers, the company said in a statement. The source code should make it easier for developers to create devices and test them, according to Microsoft.Developers will be able to save up to 50 percent on run-time licenses, compared with the cost of the licenses of the previous version, Windows CE 2.12, the company added.
Microsoft did not provide license pricing information because such data fluctuates depending on volume and features, said Deanne Hoppe, product manager at Microsoft's Embedded and Appliance Platforms Group in Redmond, Washington, in a phone interview Thursday.
All the code necessary to work with, and develop applications for, Windows CE 3.0 is available to developers today, but Microsoft is still putting the finishing touches on the licensing terms. Hoppe said. This is why the licenses to include CE 3.0 in commercial products will take a bit longer, but not more than 30 days, she added. It usually takes developers several months after receiving Windows CE to get a device ready for commercial distribution, so this delay should be a non-issue, Hoppe said.
The application development tool Platform Builder 3.0 is available for free evaluation or purchase on the Internet at http://developerstore.com/. Users of the previous version, Platform Builder 2.12, can order a free copy of the upgrade at that site or at http://www.microsoft.com/windows/embedded/. Platform Builder 3.0 costs US$2,999 and includes another application development tool called eMbedded Visual Tools 3.0, as well as the Windows CE 3.0 operating system, Hoppe said.
Among the enhancements in Windows CE 3.0 are:
-- added flexibility through more componentization;-- improved multimedia capabilities;-- an integrated HTTP server;-- support for 10 languages;-- integration with Internet Explorer 4.0.
Microsoft has done well to aim Windows CE 3.0 at a broad section of the embedded operating system market, and not only to the PDA (personal digital assistant) sector, IDC's Zorfass said.
"They're more focused on the embedded space, and very eager to execute on their somewhat changed business focus," he added.
Because it is aimed at the entire embedded market, Windows CE's biggest competitor isn't Palm Inc., but rather products developed by companies in-house and by Wind River Inc., a vendor based in Alameda, California, which has been in the market longer, Zorfass said.
Potential devices for Windows CE are POS (point-of-sale) devices, Internet appliances, cell phones and industrial-automation tools, Microsoft's Hoppe said. Windows CE 3.0 will also be embedded into a new car navigation device from Mitsubishi Electric Corp., according to Microsoft's statement. "It can go into any embedded device," she added.
However, the PDA market is also a priority for Microsoft. Windows CE 3.0 is the operating system in Microsoft's new Pocket PC product, whose hardware is being manufactured by vendors such as Hewlett-Packard Co. and Compaq Computer Corp., and which is designed to compete head-to-head against Palm's handheld PDAs.
Microsoft, in Redmond, Washington, can be reached at +1-425-882-8080 or http://www.microsoft.com/.