Windows CE update set for mid-2003 release

The next update to Microsoft Corp.'s Windows CE .Net OS (operating system), which has been given the code name McKendric, will ship before the middle of 2003 and include several new features, a company executive said at the Microsoft Embedded DevCon 2003 conference being held in Taiwan.

Expected to be called Windows CE .Net version 4.2 when it hits the market later this year, McKendric offers several improvements over the current version of the OS, Windows CE .Net 4.1. It will incorporate new features, such as support for VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), a firewall and wireless networking support for residential gateways, said Chip Schnarel, group program manager for Windows CE OS development at Microsoft.

Among the changes being made to the OS is a feature designed to improve the compatibility of application programming interfaces (APIs) for software developed for PDAs (personal digital assistants) running Microsoft's Pocket PC software and other devices running software based on Windows CE .Net, Schnarel said.

To make this possible, McKendric will allow software developers to change an application's user interface so that it can be displayed on differently-sized screens while maintaining compatibility at the API level, Schnarel said. This would allow developers to more easily port their applications to different Windows CE-based devices, he said.

Microsoft is also developing prototype devices based on the VoIP and residential gateway technologies included with McKendric, to help device makers shorten the time that it takes to develop these types of products, Schnarel said.

"We want to make sure the technology is good enough," he said, adding that the design information for these prototypes would be shared with developers.

McKendric will include a sample VoIP application when it ships and offer a proxy client that will allow VoIP applications to be used through firewalls, Schnarel said. For residential gateway products, the updated OS will offer a firewall and support for 802.11b, which will allow device makers to offer residential gateways that also function as wireless access points, he said.

Looking past McKendric, Microsoft is working on another version of Windows CE, called Macallan, that is expected to ship in 2004, Schnarel said, without discussing specific features of the future OS.

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