The Microsoft Windows CE platform

2005-08-01

Morton Swimmer

IBM Research GmbH
Editor: Helen Martin

Abstract

Since there is a lot of confusion over what, exactly, encompasses the Microsoft Windows Mobile platform, VB’s Technical Editor Morton Swimmer has provided the following brief run-down of the variations of the system.


The portable and embedded operating system platform that Microsoft offers is a very complex beast. There is the core operating system, Windows CE, which is currently at version 5.0, and then the application layer, which is also at 5.0. However, in between, the vendors using the products have mixed and matched as required. To make things just that much more interesting for us, the final product name has morphed from offering to offering and currently stands at Windows Mobile.

The following table is a list of product names with the corresponding operating system and application levels as well as the CPUs these offerings ran on. It is not definitive and was compiled to the best of anyone’s knowledge.

Although the Windows CE Platform has supported many CPUs in the past, currently only the Intel Xscale and Samsung S3C2410 seem to be supported. However, within the .NET framework, the developer may compile to MSIL, which is a CPU-independent language allowing the application to run on any platform for which there is a cross compiler. Of course, this is an equal opportunity for malware writers to obtain wide code coverage despite the variations in the architectures of these devices. Only time will tell if this feature can effectively be abused.

Product nameYear releasedOS levelApplication levelKnown CPUs supported
Handheld PC 1.019961.01.0SH3, Vr4101
Handheld PC 2.019972.02.0SH3, Vr4101, PR31700
Palm-size PC 2.019982.011.0n/a
Palm-size PC 2.11 Chinese Version19982.111.1n/a
Handheld PC, Professional Edition19982.113.0Vr4111, Vr4121, R4000, SH3, TX3912, Pr31700
Palm-size PC 2.11 US, Japanese Version19992.111.2Vr4111, Vr4121, R4000, SH3, TX3912, Pr31700
Pocket PC[a]20003.0.93483.0StrongARM, XScale, Vr4121, SH3, TC3922, Pr31700
Handheld PC 200020003.03.0StrongARM, XScale
Pocket PC 2002[b]20013.0.111713.0StrongARM, XScale
Pocket PC 2002 Phone Edition20023.03.0StrongARM, XScale
Windows CE .NET 4.120024.14.1n/a
Smartphone 200220023.03.0StrongARM, XScale
Windows Mobile 2003[c]20034.20.10814.2Xscale, S3C2410
Smartphone 200320034.20.10884.2Xscale, S3C2410
Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition[d]20044.21.10884.2.1Xscale, S3C2410
Windows Mobile 5.0previewed 20055.1.17005.0n/a

[a] StrongARM and Xscale are largely compatible.

[b] There were three service packs for the Pocket PC 2002 edition. Not all were offered by the vendors.

[c] Supports .NET.

[d] First malware reported for this platform.

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