Windows CE 5.0 beta released

A new release of Microsoft Corp.'s Windows CE is poised to make devices more secure, reliable and better at handling multimedia files, Microsoft said Monday.

Additionally, Windows CE 5.0 will bring improvements for developers by offering improved hardware support and a unified development environment, Microsoft said in a statement released at the Embedded Systems Conference in San Francisco.

A beta version of Windows CE 5.0 is scheduled to be handed out to event attendees on Monday and be made available on the Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) on Thursday, Microsoft said. The final version of the operating system for embedded use is due midyear, the company said.

Windows CE 5.0 is the next version up from Windows CE 4.2, which was released last year. The operating system software is used in a variety of devices including set-top boxes, wireless routers and wireless displays. Windows CE is also the basis of Microsoft's Windows Mobile Software used in Pocket PCs and smart phones.

Key features in the new release will be an integrated development environment, allowing developers to work in a graphical environment and use a command line interface from the same tool, Microsoft said. Additionally, increased hardware support with more than 50 drivers should make life easier for developers, the company said.

The Windows CE 5.0 release also has a security and reliability focus with all components set to the highest security level by default, Microsoft said. Also new is the addition of error reporting, which will allow makers of devices that connect to the Internet to get reports of problems with their products, Microsoft said.

To support more multimedia-centric devices, Microsoft in Windows CE 5.0 includes support for Direct3D, a programming and graphics model based on DirectX, which is part of the desktop Windows operating system. The technology will be useful for new devices such as Portable Media Centers, a class of Windows CE-based products that Microsoft hardware partners are expected to ship later this year, Microsoft said.

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