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11/14/2007
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Microsoft Smartens Windows Embedded CE With Web Services

Release Candidate 2 of version 6.0 also updates the OS's ability to manage video telephony, pluggable font engine support, and thin-client technology.

Microsoft on Wednesday released version 6.0 of its Windows Embedded CE platform for developers and device markers interested in building "smart" consumer electronics devices.

Windows Embedded CE 6.0 R2 connects devices to computers running Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008, in addition to other devices. The updates and enchantments in this version focus on five key areas, including Web services on devices, video telephony, Internet Explorer improvements and Windows Media Player OCX 7 support, pluggable font engine support, and thin-client technology, according to Microsoft.

"Microsoft continues to make significant investments in the embedded space to help developers and device-makers enter new markets, speed time to market, and differentiate their products and services," said Kevin Dallas, general manager of Microsoft's Windows Embedded Business, in a statement.

Microsoft has spent more than $100 million on Windows Embedded product development and R&D over the past two years. This year alone, Microsoft plans to spend $75 million on development, which is a 33% increase from last year, Dallas added.

The devices that Microsoft is targeting include digital cameras, TVs, and car audio systems. Microsoft's annual corporate sales for Windows Embedded are expected to grow about 25% through 2010 and consumer sales to grow about twice that much annually, according to a report by Reuters.

With the latest version of Windows Embedded CE, Microsoft is offering an Application Program Interface on Windows Vista that extends Web services to consumer electronics devices. Using the API, original equipment manufactures can virtually link their devices to Windows Vista-based PCs over a network connection.

The software maker also made available a new video telephony feature, which allows manufactures to add voice over IP, video, and three-way audio to devices based on Windows CE 6.0. And to improve Web browsing on devices, Microsoft released an Internet Explorer enhancement that speeds up the rendering of pages.

Additionally, manufactures will now have more flexibility when they develop their devices. Microsoft said version 6.0 will provide manufacturers with a greater choice of third-party font engines to use as they develop devices; it will also offer thin client technology components with auto-detection capabilities that extend all the important features of Windows Server 2008 to thin clients.

Microsoft announced the news at the Embedded Technology 2007 show taking place in Japan this week, also unveiling a new community initiative called Spark, which provides developer tools, embedded operating systems, and board packages to nonprofessionals that want to create any type of embedded device.

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