SAN JOSE, Calif., Nov. 2, 1998 — Today at the Embedded Systems Conference, Microsoft Corp. announced the Microsoft® Windows® CE Platform Builder, providing a new model for embedded systems development. Embedded systems – from rugged hand-held devices to set-top boxes and video game systems to systems used for machine control on the factory floor – have typically been thought of as products comprising tightly bundled hardware and software. As a result, there have been limited opportunities for application-level developers to support these closed embedded systems. Windows CE Platform Builder changes that dynamic by making the tools required to build embedded systems easily accessible to application-level developers, both within organizations as well as to a community of third-party developers for Windows.
Windows CE Platform Builder is the successor to the Microsoft Windows CE Embedded Toolkit for the Visual C++® development system version 5.0.
“The name of the product has been changed to reflect a philosophy of building embedded platforms, which then allow the application-level developers to use Microsoft’s powerful desktop tools to complete the project,”
said Harel Kodesh, vice president of the consumer appliance group at Microsoft.
“This opens the door to this new class of embedded systems for the thriving community of embedded developers and provides them the benefits of Windows programming.”
Simplifies Embedded System Development
Windows CE Platform Builder enables a clean separation between the two main software activities involved in embedded system development: operating system design and application development.
Operating system specialists can define a customized configuration of Windows CE based on the modular nature of the operating system.
By using the Export SDK feature, the Platform Builder can generate a software development kit (SDK) for each custom embedded platform. The SDK exports all the functionality of the embedded system needed by application-level programmers, be they developers within the corporation or third-party developers.
The SDK is then used in combination with Windows CE toolkits for the Visual Basic development system, Visual C++ or the Visual J++
development system for Java to create the application-level software for the embedded system.
“It’s always a challenge to find developers for embedded systems,”
said Steven Maillet, senior software engineer at IDEXX Laboratories Inc., which has developed a milk analysis system using the Windows CE operating system.
“Using Windows CE and Visual Studio® made it a lot simpler because we could find experienced developers for Windows who were able to work within our system at the application level.”
Embedded systems developers are further aided by powerful wizards and classes included in Platform Builder that do much of the low-level work, speeding the critical time-to-market element of embedded systems design. Developers can also apply modules of code from other applications for Windows and modify them to run on Windows CE, thus quickly adding new functionality to Windows CE-based embedded systems.
“The major challenge we faced in kicking off our development effort was to bring a high-function product to market very quickly, at a very low cost,”
said Joe Gagnier, lead architect at Unisys Corp., which has developed a system for the financial services industry using Windows CE.
“With Windows CE, we were able to port significant amounts of code that we had already developed for Windows NT® directly to Windows CE without rewriting or hiring additional engineers.”
Microsoft Support Ensures Customer Success
Windows CE Platform Builder is supported directly from Microsoft and through a network of systems integrators and distributors. Microsoft Technical Support offers worldwide online and telephone support 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Trained support engineers are available to help resolve questions regarding the Windows CE Platform Builder and the Windows CE operating system quickly and accurately. For more information on Microsoft Technical Support offerings, visit http://www.microsoft.com/support/ .
Windows CE Platform Builder contains the componentized Windows CE operating system version 2.11; Visual C++ 6.0 cross-compilers and IDE optimized for embedded development; and all the tools needed to support designs based upon a broad range of semiconductors, including x86, Pentium II, MIPS, Super-H, PowerPC and ARM/StrongArm processor families.
Pricing and Availability
The Microsoft Windows CE Platform Builder can be ordered through any authorized Microsoft OEM distributor and is scheduled to ship in December. The toolkit will also be available through selected retail channels for an estimated retail price of $999. For more information about Microsoft’s complete line of development tools designed for Windows CE, visit http://www.microsoft.com/windowsce/embedded/default.asp .
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