REDMOND, Wash., June 15, 2000 — Microsoft today announced the release of Microsoft Windows CE 3.0 embedded operating system and its comprehensive development tools — Platform Builder 3.0 and eMbedded Visual Tools 3.0 — which enable developers to build rich embedded devices that demand dynamic applications and Internet services. Windows CE 3.0 combines the flexibility and the reliability of an embedded platform with the power of Windows and the Internet.
Embedded systems power every kind of limited-purpose electronic device. Retail terminals, mobile handhelds, industrial automation devices and global positioning system (GPS) receivers all run on embedded systems. Until recently, most embedded systems developers programmed proprietary code to power such devices. Increased demand for devices that participate on a network and the Internet, and devices that deliver more applications and services, coupled with the pressure to deliver solutions to market faster, have caused developers to turn to commercial operating systems — such as Windows CE — as foundations for their custom solutions.
According to Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates, Microsoft’s strategy for Windows-embedded and appliance products and services centers on giving developers more powerful and more customizable platforms, as well as a top-to-bottom selection of services and technologies for embedded systems.
“We are entering a new era of the PC, the ‘PC Plus’ era. This will be a time when we see an amazing proliferation of small, connected devices that will be commonly used at home and at work,” Gates said recently. “Microsoft’s Windows-embedded technologies are increasingly important to developers who need to provide access to information through their applications, across an array of smart devices.”
Platform Builder 3.0 — An Integrated Development Environment
Microsoft also announced reduced pricing, broader distribution of its development tools and a free upgrade to Platform Builder 3.0 for customers using Platform Builder 2.12.
Platform Builder 3.0 delivers cost-effective solutions to meet the needs of the embedded marketplace and delivers all the tools developers need to rapidly build Windows CE-based embedded systems. Its integrated development environment (IDE) enables developers to configure, build and debug the new generation of highly modular designs. Platform Builder 3.0 now also includes the eMbedded Visual Tools 3.0, offering versions of familiar desktop tools Visual Basic and Visual C++, optimized for embedded software development.
Changing Market Moves Toward Intelligent Appliances
The traditional PC marketplace is expanding as more single-purpose devices come to the fore. In the consumer sector, for example, these take the form of “intelligent appliances” such as Pocket PCs, Internet access devices and Web-enabled cell phones. Embedded systems, on the other hand, are facing a more connected customer base — whether via corporate networks, the Internet or wireless technologies — which is driving demand for devices that are more compatible with other systems. In addition, hardware for appliances has become inexpensive and universally available, forcing developers to differentiate their products with richer functionality.
So, from a broad perspective, the PC and embedded systems industries are converging. With increased demand for intelligent appliances, developers are facing shorter development cycles, an emphasis on feature-rich services, and the need to incorporate more connectivity and compatibility with other systems. As a result, developers are increasingly turning to commercial products for preconfigured components they can quickly assemble as the foundation of their embedded system.
“Windows CE 3.0, Platform Builder 3.0 and eMbedded Visual Tools 3.0 provide the richest technology set, the best application and services programming tools, and a great environment for building devices,”
said Bill Veghte, vice president, Embedded and Appliance Platforms Group, Microsoft Corp.
“This results in the richest, most cost-effective solution for embedded developers looking to create connected devices that demand rich, adaptive applications and Internet services.”
Today’s Supercharged Connected Device Industry
Windows CE is targeted at connected, 32-bit client devices with memory-footprint constraints such as cellular phones, handheld computers, scanning equipment or machine consoles. According to Veghte, the strength of Windows-powered embedded solutions is that they not only deliver a rich platform for embedded applications and services, but also provide the familiar Win32 programming model, interact seamlessly with other Windows platforms and are compatible with Microsoft applications and services.
“Every element of this strategy is a response to the needs of developers in today’s supercharged connected device industry,” Veghte said. “The Embedded and Appliance Platform Group is committed to helping its customers bring their inventions to market by offering the best platforms, extensive services and greater flexibility than we’ve ever offered before.”
Microsoft recently created the Embedded and Appliance Platform Group to respond to this fast-growing and changing industry. The group brings together the Windows CE, Windows NT Embedded and server appliances teams under one organizational roof. This structure allows the formerly disparate teams to unify their resources, business objectives and practices — presenting customers with one “destination” for Microsoft embedded products and services.
“We see rapid growth in the appliance and embedded marketplace, and this new division is set up to focus on delivering the tools, technologies and business models that this marketplace demands,” Veghte said. “This change reflects our overall strategy and greater focus on the embedded and appliance space.”
Delivering a Rich Set of Technologies
Windows CE 3.0 features improved real-time support, which allows systems to prioritize and act upon hundreds of tasks quickly; DCOM for Windows CE, for integrating Windows CE-based devices into distributed computing networks; rich Internet browsing with Internet Explorer 4.0 and enhanced multimedia experience with DirectX and Windows Media; a dial-up boot-loader allowing software updates to be administered remotely; and enhanced Internet support with a new HTTP server for sending Web-based data.
Furthermore, Windows CE 3.0 is much more modular than ever before, and provides developers with a wide breadth of functionality and flexibility. Platform Builder 3.0, the new Windows CE development environment, provides a more detailed selection of Windows CE system capabilities to include in a device’s platform. This allows developers to produce leaner code that is better tailored to the precise functions of the embedded system.
“When customers start to consider building a device or appliance, they’re also asking whether they can create a customized operating system that delivers just the functionality they need — no more, no less,” Veghte said. “Version 3.0 allows developers to be more selective when they choose system capabilities.”
Veghte said that developers can expect more services, tools and enhancements as the market for embedded products grows. “Our ambitious commitment to the embedded systems industry means that we’ll keep on asking our customers what they need and then provide great solutions,” he said. “We’re ready — more than ever — to help our partners and customers bring the next generation of embedded systems to life.”