Microsoft has begun to release details of the next version of Windows CE, planned for Q1 2013.
A year ago, there was a certain amount of concern for the future of Windows CE, stemming from the dual announcements of Windows 8 on ARM, and a Windows Phone 8 built on the same Windows-on-ARM codebase replacing a Windows Phone 7 historically built on CE.
However, it soon became apparent that in the short and medium term, such endeavours would not produce a replacement for Windows CE, and a roadmap for Windows CE which is far from superficial has emerged. A significant investment in Microsoft’s small-footprint embedded OS is, it seems, being made.
The first details relate to an update to .NET Compact Framework from version 3.5 to 3.9, and integration with Visual Studio 2012. Microsoft has released a video on this topic.
Up to now, Windows CE users have had to put up with using a version of Visual Studio at least one or two revisions behind current. Compact 7 users are limited to Visual Studio 2008.
VS2012 offers C++ users significant advantages, including support for the current version of C++, known as C++11, which includes many important new language features such as range-based FOR loops. Code management via Team Foundation Server and improvements to Solution Explorer can make a big difference to productivity. See Microsoft’s What’s New in VS2012 page. Other good stuff includes Standard Template library improvements, and auto-parallisation and vectorisating, which could provide big performance enhancements with the latest multicore ARM devices.
The update gives us .NET Compact Framework 3.9, which promises smaller images and is said to be multicore-safe (Compact 7 already claims support for multicore devices).
The new capabilities will no doubt be delivered as an update to VS2012 for those on an MSDN Subscription which covers embedded tools.