I've had a number of questions come through on e-mail about the recently announced Windows Embedded CE 6.0 RTM (Release to Manufacturing), many of the questions relate to Windows Mobile and are asking questions like "Since you have just announced Windows Embedded CE 6.0 will Windows Mobile Smartphone have a word application?".

The Windows Embedded CE 6.0 release is for embedded developers, this is not a Windows Mobile release.

I'd like to just take a couple of seconds to explain what that means.

While its true that Windows Mobile Pocket PC and Windows Mobile Smartphone are based on Windows CE as their core operating system the release of Windows CE and Windows Mobile don't happen at the same time - the "embedded" group in effect has two sets of customers, external customers that build cow milking machines, robots, industrial control systems, GPS navigation systems, sewing machines (a great example of a "multi-threaded" device) and a whole range of other cool and interesting devices (you can see some of the gadgets based on the .NET MicroFramework, Windows CE, Windows XP Embedded, and Windows Embedded for Point of Service on WindowsForDevices)

We also have a number of internal customers including Windows Mobile (Pocket PC and Smartphone), Windows Automotive [btw, did you know, that Windows Automotive is being used in a range of vehicles and after market devices including Honda, Acura, BMW, Mercedes, Volvo, Alpine, Kenwood and Pioneer!], and Microsoft TV.

These Internal Customers (and external customers) decide which release of Windows CE is appropriate for their devices (note that Windows Mobile skipped building devices on Windows CE 4.1) - once the 'core operating system' has been released the Windows Mobile team can then start working on their UI shell, applications and other components that don't ship with the embedded release, note that this work can take some time to complete, and once completed the Windows Mobile 'bits' need to be released to handset manufacturers who then need to integrate the new Windows Mobile bits onto their hardware.

Even though Windows Embedded CE 6.0 has been Released to Manufacturing, and will be officially launched on Nov 1st 2006 it will be some time before you see Windows Mobile devices based on this release of Windows Embedded CE.

- Mike