Windows CE Operating System

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Windows CE

Windows CE Screenshot In 1995, Microsoft started the development of the new operating system called Windows CE under the code name Pegasus. The graphical user interface and usability has similarities with Windows 95 and has been designed especially for embedded devices. The application programming interface (API) contains a subset of the Win32 API used for Windows on personal computers. At the beginning, Handheld PCs and Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) are supported with the processor architectures as MIPS 3000/4000, SuperH of Hitachi and Intel x86. The 32-bit operating system has a limit of up to 32 processes with up to 32 MB virtual memory for each process. The minimum requirements are stated as 4 MB ROM and 2 MB RAM.

Windows CE 1.0 has been presented at the COMDEX, Las Vegas in November 1996. One of the first devices for Windows CE was HP 300 LX and available at the market on 16th November 1996. The operating system is not sold separately and always tied to the device unit delivered by the original equipment manufactures. The resolution of the touch screen is 640x240 pixel and corresponds to the half-VGA resolution. Data can be synchronized between mobile device and desktop computer with the "Handheld PC Explorer" software. Although the localization in German was planned, the first Version of Windows CE was only available in English.

At the beginning there have been speculations about what "CE" is standing for. Interprations like "Compact Edition" and also "Consumer Electronics" was spread. Microsoft declared later that "CE" is not an abbreviation but represents more the rules of orientation during the development to create an new operating system that is more "Compact", Connectable", Compatible", an "Companion," and "Efficient".

Windows CE 2.0 came in October 1997 with the first devices on the market. The operating system can now be designed modular by the device manufacturers itself. TrueType fonts improving now the appearance of characters on the screen with a display of 640x480 pixel full VGA resolution and 24-bit color depth. The manageable memory can now be up to 4 MB. The software "Handheld PC Explorer" was renamed to ActiveSync. The operating system is also available in German now.

The update Windows CE 2.10 in July 1998 allows the use of TCP/IP and the file system FAT32. With the modular file wrapper can be incorporated up to 256 different file systems. The RAM can now be up to 16 MB. The new command line processor allows in this release for the first time the use of commands without a graphical user interface. An infrared port and USB controller increases the scope.

Pocket PC 2003 or Windows Mobile 2003 has a real-time kernel and is based on the Windows CE. NET 4.2 kernel. The features of the XScale CPU are now fully available and use the advanced commands of the ARM v5 architecture. The Pocket Media Player can now play videos in Windows Media 9 format. A WLAN stack was added and the setup of the connections was made easier.

Windows Mobile 2003 SE from March, 25. 2004 for Pocket PCs can switch over the display contents between the portrait and landscape format and displays up to 480 640 pixels. The start menu was changed light and the handwriting recognizer software Transcriber is controllable with Shortcuts now. The Internet Explorer converts web pages to a adapted format for better view on small displays.

Windows Mobile 5.0 was finished on May 5th, 2005. It is used in Pocket PCs, Smartphones and compact Media Players. Important innovations in this release are the support of Persistant Storage to prevent a data loss at a low battery usage and the revised mobile Office with Word, Excel and Powerpoint. The Windows Media player was updated to version 10 and the sync software ActiveSync to version 4.0. With Direct3Dmobile a new standard API was created for a simplified programming of 3D applications and games for PDAs.

Windows Embedded CE 6.0 was introduced in the year 2006. It offers a revised kernel architecture of the operating system, up to 32,000 parallel processes can be executed. A virtual addressable range of 2 gbyte is possible for every process. The multimedia capabilities have been expanded and now support HD-DVD, DVD (MPEG-2), UDF 2.5, multi-channel audio and much more. The compatibility to existing Windows CE applications and drivers are kept. Microsoft published the whole source code of the kernel within the own Shared Source Initiative.

Microsoft announced at the "CTIA Wireless" Windows Mobile 6.1 in April 2008. This new release is to be easier for the access to messages and to configure. The integrated web browser supports Adobes Flash, Microsoft Silverlight and the video codec H.264. Functions for Smartphones have been improved.

The market research group Gartner, Inc. released a press news about the worldwide market share of PDA ventors and operating systems on 22nd May 2007. 3.1 million Windows CE units have been sold in the 1st quarter 2007. This represents a dominant position with a market share of 62.1% by operating systems. The Windows CE operating system increased his share compared to the 1st quarter 2006 with 52.8% and 1.9 million units sold.

The market share changed significantly 10 years later. On 19th May 2016, Gartner released the following figures. With 8.2 million Windows units sold in 1st quarter 2015 and 2.3 million devices in 1st quarter 2016, this is equal to a market share of 2.5% and 0.7% only. As a result the Windows operating system is on 3rd place behind iOS and Android the market leader.



Windows CE Operating System screenshot 1Windows CE Operating System screenshot 2Windows CE Operating System screenshot 3Windows CE Operating System screenshot 4
Windows CE StrukturWindows Mobile 2003, desktop and start menu of PocketPCWindows Mobile 2003, selection of the settings #1Windows Mobile 2003, selection of the settings #2
Windows CE Operating System screenshot 5Windows CE Operating System screenshot 6Windows CE Operating System screenshot 7Windows CE Operating System screenshot 8
Windows Mobile 2003, running programsWindows Mobile 2003, File ExplorerWindows Mobile 2003, Medion Navigator with GPSWindows Mobile 2003, view of the Route planner
Windows CE Operating System screenshot 9Windows CE Operating System screenshot 10Windows CE Operating System screenshot 11
Windows Mobile 2003, view of the versionWindows Mobile 2003, settings for network connectionsWindows Mobile 2003, selection of the battery mode


Date - Version
1996 Nov. - Windows CE 1.0, Codename Pegasus/Alder
1997 Nov. - Windows CE 2.0, Codename Birch
1998 July - Windows CE 2.10
1999 - Windows CE 2.12
2000 April - Windows CE 3.0, Codename Cedar
2000 April - Pocket PC 2000, Codename Rapier
2001 Oct. - Pocket PC 2002, Codename Merlin
2002 Jan. - Windows CE .Net, Codename Talisker (Windows CE 4.0)
2002 Juni - Windows CE .Net, (Windows CE 4.1)
2003 April - Windows CE .Net, (Windows CE 4.2)
2004 Aug. - Windows CE 5.0, Codename Macallan
2005 May - Windows Mobile 5.0, RTM
2006 - Windows Mobile 5.0 Second Edition
2006 Nov - Windows Embedded CE 6.0, Codename Yamazaki
2007 - Windows Embedded CE 6.0 R2,2007 Feb. - Windows Mobile 6.0
2008 April - Windows Mobile 6.1
2009 - Windows Embedded CE 6.0 R3,2009 Sept. - Windows Mobile 6.5
2010 - Windows Mobile 7
2010 Dec. - Windows Embedded Handheld 6.5
2011 March - Windows Embedded Compact 7
2012 Oct. - Windows Phone 8.0
2014 July - Windows Phone 8.10
2013 June - Windows Embedded Compact 2013
2016 March - Windows 10 Mobile