Microsoft to help devices get connected

Microsoft to help devices get connected

Releases new version of .Net Micro Framework

Microsoft has released an updated version of its .Net Micro Framework, which aims to improve the connectivity of small, resource-constrained devices and potentially enable them to come to market faster.

Unveiled at Embedded World 2008, version 2.5 of the .Net Micro Framework adds support for web services on devices (WSD) and a native TCP/IP stack – capabilities that will enable developers to connect even small devices to IP-based infrastructure, Microsoft said.

"The Micro Framework is managed code for small devices, but there is no OS underneath it – the code runs directly on the metal," said Colin Miller, .Net Micro Framework product manager at Microsoft.

He explained that it enables developers to use Microsoft's Visual Studio suite to code for applications such as security sensors, building with inexpensive embedded chips that have as little as 128kB of memory. It currently supports a number of chips based on ARM and x86 architectures, but others are planned.

"With the Micro Framework, you can develop the code on a PC before you even have the target hardware," he said, while version 2.5 now adds support for connectivity, bringing these small devices into the world of IP networks and web services. This might allow devices such as security sensors to send alerts to a monitoring console over the corporate network, for example.

Miller said that even such simple devices can take months or years to develop, largely because of code complexity. "People are looking for better tools, and the Micro Framework will improve productivity," he added.

Also at Embedded World, Microsoft launched its first Embedded Systems Development Centre in Germany, saying it will give the firm a local presence to better connect with the needs of European developers.

Microsoft also announced that its Windows Embedded for Point of Service (Wepos) software will be pre-loaded on IBM point-of-sale, self checkout and self-service kiosks. The platform is based on XP, and so offers broad application and peripheral support, according to Microsoft.