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The Windows CE 2.0 Operating System

The Windows CE 2.0 Operating System

By Rich Hall

 It seems that Microsoft has taken a step forward with its release of the Windows CE 2.0 operating system. Microsoft officially released it as we went to press so we haven't had time to test it. But here are some of the things we do know from initial Microsoft press releases and other sources.

 Although adding functionality to HP's and other manufacturers' handhelds, Microsoft is looking beyond the H/PCs with Windows CE 2.0. They see it as the operating system that will enable the development of a new range of computing appliances, including portable computing devices such as the H/PCs, game devices, smart phones, TV set controllers, and home appliances.

What Windows CE 2.0 means for H/PC users

 Hewlett-Packard and most of the other manufacturers of H/PCs (except Hitachi) are offering upgrade paths for users of their handhelds. In some cases, however, only certain models from a particular manufacturer can be upgraded. In the case of the HP, only the 320LX can be upgraded to Windows CE 2.0.

Features new to Windows CE 2.0

 The new version of Windows CE supports TrueType fonts, which means that H/PC screens will be more readable. Microsoft has incorporated one of the features from its PowerToys freeware and given Windows CE the ability to cascade menus (see this page for example of cascading menus). Windows CE 2.0 also supports Autohide, which removes the taskbar from the screen when not in use, giving more screen space to an application.

 Windows CE 2.0 cascades the Start button menus, making it easier to locate and access programs and documents on the H/PC.

 Windows CE 2.0 brings users a Pocket version of PowerPoint. Users can connect to a VGA monitor and display color slides, even if their H/PC has a gray scale screen. HP will offer a VGA adapter card for their new Handheld PCs.

 Windows CE 2.0 comes with a new Pocket version of Windows Explorer, now accessed in a submenu of the programs menu. It incorporates many new web-like features including Forward and Back buttons and a Favorites menu.

Windows CE 2.0 adds one new application, comes out with a new version of an old one, and integrates three others. The new application is Pocket PowerPoint Viewer. This is a Pocket version of the popular desktop application PowerPoint. It lets H/PC users read and edit PowerPoint slides and import slides from the desktop. Windows CE 2.0 supports 32-bit color, which means that manufacturers can create devices to connect the H/PC to an external color VGA monitor (such devices already exist). This means that the user can make slide presentations from the H/PC.

 Windows CE 2.0 also comes with a new version of Pocket Internet Explorer. You can use this to not only browse the Internet, but browse the files on your H/PC. Pocket Internet Explorer is improved in other ways, making it closer to the desktop version in look and features.

 Windows CE 2.0 has merged Contacts, Calendar and Tasks into one application that closely resembles the desktop version of Microsoft Outlook, and easily synchronizes with it.

Pocket Word and Excel are also improved. Pocket Word now lets you spell check a document and use TrueType fonts without conversion. It does a better job of formatting your document with tabs, indentation, and numbered lists. Pocket Excel adds database functions along with the ability to zoom in and out, and split or freeze sections of the worksheet.

 Windows CE 2.0 has improved its synchronization capabilities. You can now partner with multiple PCs, instead of just one. CE 2.0 also lets H/PCs with two memory slots access both at the same time. Finally, CE 2.0 improves the speed and reliability of wireless networking.

What Windows CE 2.0 means for developers

 There are a lot of improvements in Windows CE 2.0 that are technical in nature and of more interest to developers. Perhaps the most important change is that Windows CE 2.0 makes it easier to develop software programs for the H/PC. This should make more applications available for the end user. Microsoft has released development tools including:

Windows(r) CE Toolkit for Visual C++(r) 5.0 -- lets developers create Windows CE applications, building on existing expertise with the Win32 API and the Microsoft Visual C++ Development System.

Windows(r) CE Toolkit for Visual Basic(r) 5.0 -- provides Visual Basic programmers with the tools needed to build solutions for Windows CE-based devices.

Windows(r) CE Toolkit for Visual J++(tm) 1.1 - enables developers to create embeddable Java applications for Windows CE devices using Visual J++ 1.1.

 Windows(r) CE Embedded Toolkit for Visual C++(r) 5.0 -- combines an integrated development environment with a comprehensive set of Win32-based embedded development technology.

 Visual C++ for Windows CE - lets a developer develop Windows CE applications, building on existing expertise with the Win32 API and the Microsoft Visual C++ Development System.

For more information on these Microsoft Windows CE Development Tools, check out the Microsoft developers Web site: http://www.microsoft.com/win dowsce/developer/prodinfo/default.htm.

These added tools mean that developers with Windows programming experience will have the tools necessary to port existing applications to, or develop new ones for, the Windows CE operating system. This added support should insure the acceptance and growth of the operating system. In addition, it should encourage the development of a wide variety of software and hardware solutions for end users.

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