Windows CE is a Microsoft Windows–compatible real-time operating system for a broad range of products including personal and handheld computers, terminals, and industrial controllers.
Windows CE is primarily for embedded systems in which the operating system is hard-coded by a vendor into a device’s ROM and for handheld PCs that provide portable messaging and Internet capability.
Windows CE is based on a subset of the standard Win32 API, which means that original equipment manufacturer (OEM) developers can use all of the standard Win32 development tools to create custom-based Windows CE solutions for their Windows CE–based products. Windows CE is a component-based operating system that you can use to create “mix-and-match” operating systems that provide only the functionality needed for an embedded system, thus minimizing the memory requirements of such a system. For example, a Windows CE–based industrial sensor might contain the Windows CE kernel and communication modules but not the graphical user interface (GUI). The available modules include the following:
Windows CE is implemented on a specific hardware platform using a thin layer of code between the kernel and the hardware called the OEM adaptation layer (OAL), which isolates device-specific features of hardware from the operating system kernel, enabling developers to ignore specific hardware functionality.
The current version of Windows CE is 2.1; version 3 will soon be released.