Zorfass sees Microsoft facing competition against WinCE from three main areas: the open-source community, proprietary operating systems built in-house by companies, and traditional embedded operating system companies such as Wind River Systems, "companies that aren't exactly household names," Zorfass said.
Gwennap thinks the real battle for Microsoft lies with the consumers. "The real issue is how many people will put CE in their PDA, or in their set top box. I haven't seen a lot momentum," he said.
To help device makers reduce the design time for new products and make Windows CE 3.0 more attractive, Microsoft has also launched two new vendor programs.
The first will see the software maker supplying new BSPs (board support packages) -- preconfigured and pretested hardware reference platforms on which OEM companies can immediately begin testing their embedded software designs. The BSPs will be available for download from Microsoft's Web site.
The second allows microprocessor makers to bundle Windows CE 3.0 with evaluation versions of their chips when supplied to manufacturers. This could speed up the design process for new devices because manufacturers will be able to obtain almost everything they need under a single contract and not have to separately obtain copies of the software from Microsoft.
The first chips to ship with the bundled OS are expected to be available from National Semiconductor beginning in April.