SAN DIEGO, Calif., July 1, 2004 — On Monday (June 28) at the Microsoft Embedded Developers Conference (DevCon), Microsoft announced the launch of Windows CE version 5.0, Microsoft’s operating system for devices such as ATMs, medical instruments, set-top-boxes for home entertainment, point-of-sale terminals, voice over IP appliances, and industrial automation systems. Windows CE 5.0 — previously code-named “Macallan”– will offer expanded source licensing, enabling, for the first time, all licensees to ship products commercially built from their modifications of the Windows CE 5.0 shared source code. Licensees will maintain ownership of their derivative code and will not be obligated to share modifications with Microsoft, partners or competitors.
Pieter Knook, Senior Vice President, Mobile and Embedded Devices Division and Communications Sector Business
PressPass spoke with Pieter Knook , senior vice president of Microsoft’s Mobile and Embedded Devices Division and Communications Sector Business, about the release and its role in Microsoft’s overall devices strategy.
PressPass: How does Windows CE 5.0 fit into the overall business of Microsoft’s Mobile and Embedded Devices Division?
Knook: Windows CE 5.0 is the latest release from our division, which provides a rich set of components for a wide range of embedded devices. Windows CE, along with Windows XP Embedded, are used to build software for devices such as ATMs, medical instruments, set-top-boxes for home entertainment, point-of-sale terminals, voice over IP appliances, and industrial automation systems. Windows CE also provides the building blocks for Windows Automotive and the Windows Mobile software platform, which is the platform used in devices like Pocket PC, Smartphone and the new Portable Media Center.
PressPass: What about Windows CE 5.0 do you consider most important for your business?
Knook: Windows CE 5.0 represents the culmination of many hard years of product improvements, innovation and, most importantly, listening to our customers. Adoption of Windows CE has grown significantly over the past year. Windows CE 5.0 will continue to make us very competitive in the embedded industry with features that enable greater developer productivity, increased device reliability and further innovation.
Adoption of Windows CE has also grown because of the transparency we provide device makers through Microsoft’s Shared Source Initiative. In Windows CE 5.0 we share more than 2.5 million lines of code in the box, and for the first time, anyone with a valid OEM (original equipment manufacturer) license can incorporate Shared Source modifications as part of their product. We believe this move will increase current customer loyalty and expose us to new customers and markets. Our licensing policy, where device makers are not required to notify or share modifications with Microsoft or the community, are of particular interest to OEMs building devices in competitive markets.
PressPass: What led to commercial derivatives?
Knook: Because the range of possible uses for embedded software is so vast, our customers were asking for more flexibility to innovate and to differentiate themselves from their competition. The ability to ship devices with modified source code will further enable our partners to meet customer needs in new vertical industries and consumer electronics. Additionally, as more OEMs use Windows CE to power their devices, we find new opportunities for Microsoft server and desktop products.
PressPass: What’s new in the area of reliability in Windows CE 5.0?
Knook: There are really two aspects to reliability. First it’s about how our software performs in the real world, and secondly it’s whether devices built on Windows CE are secure from bugs and viruses.
First, in terms of performance, we’ve gone to great lengths with Windows CE 5.0 to improve networking performance and real-time response rates. We have incorporated a specialized version of the Dr. Watson technologies — called Windows CE Error Reporting. This new component will enable OEMs and Microsoft to better understand how devices are being used and determine how we can collectively build devices more reliably.
Second, we are working proactively with our industry partners on better security solutions for embedded devices. Because Windows CE is essentially a toolkit for creating customized operating systems, we don’t have ultimate control over how components are used — this complicates our ability to ensure devices built with our software are completely secure. In the past, we provided resources on how to build secure devices and assumed developers would consider security when building their systems. For Windows CE 5.0, we did threat modeling and testing on each component and we’ve turned on all security settings by default. Windows CE 5.0 also includes pop-ups warning developers of potential security issues and a log for analyzing security threats. Our goal is to make it easier than ever for developers to assess security issues while developing their devices.