CE gears up for web services

CE gears up for web services

New Windows CE platform features compatibility with new media formats and a VoIP client

Microsoft has released an updated version of its Windows CE platform for embedded applications, aimed at devices that can communicate seamlessly with each other and Windows PCs, as well as support web-based services.

Windows Embedded CE 6 R2 was unveiled at the Embedded Technology Conference in Japan, and the first devices based on it will ship almost immediately, Microsoft said.

Among the new features it adds is an updated Media Player that is compatible with newer media formats; an enhanced Internet Explorer browser to better support complex web sites; and a voice over IP (VoIP) client capable of handling video and multi-party calls.

The updated Windows CE is a first step towards a world of smart connected devices, according to Microsoft. “Devices are all becoming connected now via IP networks, and once this happens, users want to have a connected experience,” said Ilya Bukshteyn, director of marketing for Windows Embedded. Users will expect devices to easily communicate with each other and share information, he said, such as digital cameras that can upload pictures to a PC or a digital picture frame.

Microsoft sees devices becoming more service-oriented, both consuming web-based services and exposing their own services, such as location information and their hardware capabilities. Its intent is that Windows devices will be able to communicate peer-to-peer with each other, with no discovery process needed.

While CE 6 R2 is expected to spawn many consumer devices, Bukshteyn said that enterprises will lead the way, developing applications that have both a PC component and a device-based component, such as in industrial automation. “We aim to produce a simple mechanism for making the connection across devices and PCs,” he said.

Enterprises will also see more immediate benefits from CE 6 R2, according to Bukshteyn. “You will soon see more innovative thin clients with multi-screen capability, for example, and you will get a better native browsing experience for sites like Hotmail that use a lot of locally executed code,” he said.

Future versions of Microsoft’s Windows Mobile software for smartphones are also likely to benefit from the enhancements in CE 6 R2, Bukshteyn said.