Microsoft Releases Beta of Windows CE 5.0

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Microsoft just released a beta of a new version of Windows CE, the operating system that is the basis for Windows Mobile. It is also directly used in some handheld models.

At its core, Windows Mobile 2003 is much closer to Windows CE than Pocket PC 2002 and Smartphone 2002 were. This means improvements made to Windows CE 5.0 can be much more easily included in future versions of Windows Mobile than had been possible before.

One of the most significant changes in Windows CE 5.0 is support for Direct3D Mobile (D3DMobile), a graphics solution built on DirectX, Microsoft’s desktop technology. This will allow Windows CE devices to support even higher-performance graphics and multimedia, similar to a desktop experience, on small-footprint devices.

“Intel has enabled a new generation of rich multimedia and gaming capabilities for D3DMobile utilizing Intel XScale technology with Wireless MMX instructions,” said Mark Casey, director of Marketing for the Cellular and Handheld Group at Intel. “Working closely with Microsoft to integrate these enhancements into D3DMobile, developers and OEMs will be able to deploy a new generation of compelling 3-D applications while meeting the battery life and small size requirements of mobile devices.”

Wireless MMX will be included in the next generation of Intel XScale processors, code-named Bulverde.

In addition, Windows CE 5.0 will include Fast Start, which will noticeably decrease playback start time for multimedia content such as movies.

Microsoft is also working to make devices based on Windows CE more reliable. The package of software given to licensees will include the Windows CE Test Kit, a set of comprehensive automated testing tools to improve device stability and reliability.

Those attending the Embedded Systems Conference can stop by the Microsoft booth and pick up the beta version of Windows CE 5.0 today. It will also be available for download at the Windows Embedded web site on April 1. The final version is scheduled to be available during summer 2004.

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