Understanding Windows "CE" Platforms

Article:HOWTO7458  |  Created: 2007-06-05  |  Updated: 2007-06-05  |  Article URL http://www.symantec.com/docs/HOWTO7458
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Can I get some information on understanding Windows "CE" platforms?


The following information comes from Chris Tacke at http://www.opennetcf.org/Forums/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=317.

Understanding Windows CE "Platforms"

There is often a bit of confusion in the Windows embedded world about the difference between Pocket PC, Pocket PC 2002, Windows CE 3.0 and Windows CE.NET.


Windows CE is the core Operating System. It has gone through several versions since inception, but the versions that ADS has built for products are 2.11, 2.12, 3.0, 4.0, 4.1 and 4.2.

Starting with version 4.0, Microsoft began calling it CE.NET, so versions 4.0, 4.1 and 4.2 are considered to be

The "Platform" Concept

The confusion lies in the concept of a Platform. A platform is simply a custom implementation of Windows CE based on an adaptation kit from Microsoft, and is typically provided only to large-scale hardware manufacturers like HP, Compaq, Sony and the like. The Pocket PC, for example, must be purchased directly from Microsoft and has large volume and time commitments to get consideration (usually more than 25,000 devices per year for at least 3 years).

A device running one of these Platforms may have a UI that looks significantly different than a device running the core OS, and many platforms add specific features and applications not available through the core OS.

Some platforms and their core OSes are listed in the below. As you can see the Pocket PC and Pocket PC 2002 are both based on Windows CE 3.0. Pocket PC 2003 is based on CE 4.2.

 Platform  OS version
 Palm-Sized PC (PsPC)  2.0
 Hand-Held PC Pro (HPC Pro)  2.11
 Hand-Held PC 2000 (HPC2000)  3.0
 Pocket PC (PPC)  3.0
 Pocket PC 2002 (PPC2002)   3.0
 Pocket PC 2003 (PPC2003)  4.2

Applications written for a specific platform may or may not run on a device with just the core operating system. For example, a Pocket PC application will not run on a Windows CE 3.0 device if the application uses any of the Pocket PC Platform-specific APIs or controls.

.NET Adds Some Confusion

To add to the confusion, Microsoft has released the .NET compact framework (.NETcf). This is a set of runtimes that allow a device to run managed code. The .NETcf does not require CE.NET to run, in fact it is supported on any Pocket PC or Pocket PC 2002 (CE 3.0) and any Pocket PC 2003 or CE 4.1 device, but is not supported on CE 4.0 (which is CE.NET) or any CE 3.0 device that is not a Pocket PC.

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