Microsoft Unveils Tiny Client Toolsets

With the launch of the latest version of Windows CE, Microsoft Corp. ( hopes the operating system will make significant inroads in the burgeoning embedded systems and small appliance market. But first, OEMs and other systems manufacturers have to get the message that Windows is the right software for their devices. To ease development on the Windows CE platform, the software giant is shipping a new set of tools to promote application development.

The new Windows CE, targeted to run embedded devices and small Internet appliances, was unveiled in late April at the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) 2000 in New Orleans. Along with Windows CE 3.0, Microsoft is providing Platform Builder 3.0 and eMbedded Visual Tools 3.0, development tools for building applications on the operating system.

Microsoft will make evaluation copies of these development tools available via the Web. Since Windows is a fairly ubiquitous programming platform, Microsoft hopes developers will be willing to simply transfer their knowledge to developing to the CE platform, as well.

"Windows CE 3.0 and Windows CE Platform Builder 3.0 represent significant steps forward in empowering developers to create customizable, reliable, and flexible embedded solutions," says Bill Veghte, vice president of the Windows embedded and appliance platforms group at Microsoft. Veghte hopes the new set of embedded tools will have a significant impact on accelerating the development of applications and components for CE-based devices.

Designed for the embedded and appliance market, Windows CE 3.0 is a 32-bit operating system that functions as a scaled-down version of Windows. New features include improved real-time support, DirectX API, Windows Media, enhanced Internet capabilities, and DCOM for Windows CE.

Windows CE Platform Builder 3.0 is an environment for configuring, building, and debugging embedded systems based on the Windows CE platform. New features include tighter integration and connectivity with the development environment and target device, improved support for third-party debugging and profiling tools via a new plug-in model, and advanced debugging support including hardware-assisted debugging and source-level debugging.

A second toolset, eMbedded Visual Tools 3.0, combines embedded versions of the familiar desktop tools Visual Basic and Visual C++, enabling developers to create applications and new system components for Windows CE embedded designs. EMbedded Visual Tools also includes the information developers need to target applications for the Pocket PC, the next-generation personal digital assistant from Microsoft and industry partners.

"With improved configuration and debugging tools, it will be faster and easier than ever before to create embedded systems designs with Windows CE," says William Baxter, president and CEO of BSquare Corp. (, which develops Windows CE-based software for intelligent devices.

The full packaged product of Windows CE 3.0 and Windows CE Platform Builder 3.0 is scheduled to be available in June through normal distribution channels, as well as on the Web ( ). EMbedded Visual Tools 3.0 will be included with the Windows CE Platform Builder 3.0 and will also be available via the Web.