Microsoft dives into VoIP with CE .Net 4.2

Windows CE .Net is poised to put VoIP (voice over IP) capability in handhelds, Windows-powered Smartphones and other devices with a set of enhancements for Version 4.2 to be outlined Wednesday at the Voice on the Net conference in San Jose, California.

Todd Warren, general manager of Microsoft's Embedded and Appliance Platforms Group, will outline features of the forthcoming version that are designed for making VoIP-capable hardware. They could find their way into a variety of devices, including Windows CE-based desktop IP (Internet Protocol) phones and mobile devices that can be used for calls over a wireless LAN, said Scott Horn, director of the Embedded and Appliance Platforms Group, in a Monday interview.

Windows CE .Net is a set of components that vendors can use out of the box or customize to create embedded software for devices. Microsoft also uses it as the basis for its Pocket PC and Windows-powered Smartphone platforms. Third parties have developed software that lets some Windows CE-based devices be used for VoIP, but CE itself has not included VoIP support, Horn said.

Including VoIP features in Windows CE .Net should make it easier for vendors to integrate IP voice capability in new devices, making possible new kinds of devices and even new interfaces to well-known applications such as databases, according to some analysts.

In CE 4.2, formerly codenamed McKendric, Microsoft will provide a sample Telephony User Interface for features such as custom dialpads and a VoIP Application Interface Layer with support for SIP (Session Initiation Protocol), an industry standard for IP-based voice systems. It will also include Enterprise Infrastructure Integration services, consisting of technology for integrating computer telephony software with enterprise applications. That will include support for the .Net Compact Framework runtime environment, Active Directory and encryption technologies including IPSec (IP Security), Horn said.

Also Wednesday, Warren will announce that several original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and original device manufacturers (ODMs) are developing VoIP devices using Windows CE .Net. Major vendors include Casio Computer Co. Ltd., Hitachi Ltd., Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. and Symbol Technologies Inc. Symbol is developing a device for use in warehouses that combines barcode scanning features with "walkie-talkie" capability over a wireless LAN, he said.

In addition, component makers are optimizing CPUs and reference boards for VoIP devices that will run the new operating system. They include Intel Corp., Advanced Micro Devices Inc., ARM Ltd., Broadcom Corp. and Texas Instruments Inc.

Although Windows CE .Net 4.2 will ship with SIP support, vendors that want a VoIP device to work with another protocol can build it in, Horn said. That could include the H.323 standard or other protocols used in a proprietary IP PBX (private branch exchange).

Windows CE 4.2 is in beta testing now and due for release in the first half of this year. Also in beta is Greenwich, Microsoft software for real-time communications. Combined with Greenwich and Windows Server 2003, CE 4.2 could be used to build a variety of applications for VoIP, instant messaging and presence-based activities that use knowledge of a user's real-time availability.

Integration of voice with data applications will be the biggest boon from Microsoft's move with Windows CE .Net 4.2, said Vijay Bhagavath, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc., in Cambridge, Massachusetts. For one thing, users will be able to receive and manage their voice mail and e-mail all in the same place, but the possibilities go beyond that, he said. Enterprise employees may be able to literally talk to an application on a server, creating a much simpler user interface to complex applications such as Oracle Corp. databases that now require extensive user training.

Voice calls could also be combined with data from applications, he said. For example, when a sales person gets a call from a customer, that customer's profile from a customer relationship management system could come up on the phone's display automatically.

The new capabilities should start to become possible in 2005, he said. Voice will be integrated with personal productivity, collaboration, sales, inventory, shop floor automation and other applications. The key requirement to make that possible, he added, is new middleware to bring back-end applications together with the new front end.

By making it easier for mobile device makers to add IP voice, Microsoft may help transform communication inside companies, said Alex Slawsby, an analyst at IDC, in Framingham, Massachusetts. (IDC is a division of International Data Group Inc., the parent company of IDG News Service.)

"VoIP is the next generation of corporate voice communications," Slawsby said. For example, being able to bring a Smartphone device on to the data LAN while at the office will let an employee stay mobile while bypassing the mobile operator's airtime charges. In addition, a converged data and voice device with an 802.11 wireless LAN interface could be used for videoconferencing, he added.

Battery life is the key hurdle to making wireless LAN communication with a handheld feasible, Slawsby said.

"You might have to wear a battery pack for the next X number of years to really accomplish this with a concept of performance that's acceptable to the user" in terms of battery life, Slawsby said.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Stephen Lawson

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?