You are probably aware that we're not running the Mobile and Embedded Developers Conference (MEDC) this year, and are pointing people at Embedded Systems West (April 14-18, San Jose), or TechEd Developers (June 3-6, Orlando, Florida) as the replacements for MEDC.
Embedded Systems West will have content suitable for developers that are new to the Windows Embedded products, this means that the content will be 200-300 level, and focus on the higher level process of building an embedded operating system, and writing applications for the operating system.
TechEd is where we plan to have the deeper, technical content for embedded developers that are already using Microsoft products (or new developers that want to do the deep dive on embedded technologies).
We have four embedded operating systems that we talk about at events, these are the .NET Micro Framework, Windows CE, Windows XP Embedded, and Windows Embedded for Point of Service. The operating systems really fall into two buckets, you can think about the .NET Micro Framework, Windows XP Embedded, and Windows Embedded for Point of Service being in one bucket (I will explain shortly), and Windows CE being in the other bucket.
Bucket 1 - .NET MF, XPE, and WEPOS.
The reason I put NETMF, XPE, and WEPOS in one bucket is the lack of porting skills needed for each of the operating systems (yes, I realize that the NETMF does have a porting kit, but that's not broadly available, so most developers today focus on the application development level) - Windows XP Embedded and Windows Embedded for Point of Service run on x86, PC Architecture hardware, the operating systems don't need to be "ported" to that hardware - for XP Embedded, you need to ensure that you have the right drivers included in your image so that the operating system boots and runs, the tools to make this happen ship with the XP Embedded product. WEPOS is an installable operating system, so again there's no porting effort needed.
So, that being the case, you can cover application development on NETMF in a couple of sessions, you could cover Windows XP Embedded (tools, componentization, embedded specific features etc...) in say around 6-8 sessions, and WEPOS really is about application development against the POS.NET libraries, which can be covered in a couple of sessions.
The real issue (content wise) is Windows CE...
Bucket 2 - Windows CE
Let's think about Windows CE, and the content that's needed for developers to be productive - content really falls into a couple of camps (not buckets)
Camp 1. Hardware Engineers - These are the developers that typically work on the Board Support Package (BSP) and drivers for a Windows CE device, they need deep knowledge of writing bootloaders, drivers, OAL, and device bring up/testing.
Camp 2. Everyone else - everyone else (typically) assumes that the BSP work is done, and they are involved in the system integration phase, which involves pulling operating system components together, and possibly also writing applications that live on top of the operating system image.
So how does content for TechEd map to each of the developer camps? At MEDC last year we had approximately 25 sessions that were Windows CE specific, the majority of these sessions focused on the engineers that are porting Windows CE to new hardware.
For TechEd 2008 Developers we want to make sure that we are providing the right level of content for the developers that are focused on porting Windows CE to new hardware, this means bootloaders, drivers, OAL - and also the developers that are doing the integration/application development work.
We have a conference track dedicated to embedded content at TechEd 2008 Developers - given that a conference track is typically 16-18 sessions we wouldn't have enough sessions to cover NETMF, WinCE, XPE, and WEPOS at the depth I would like to see covered.
So... We've been working with the TechEd conference team on creating a two track (16 sessions), one day, pre-conference tutorial that covers the Windows CE porting process, here's a list of sessions (not the final titles) that we expect to have in the pre-conference Tracks.
Developing a Bootloader for CE 6.0
Windows CE graphics architecture
developing OAL/KITL for CE 6.0
Multimedia stack architecture
Porting a BSP to CE 6.0
Integrating Windows Media DRM
Porting drivers to CE 6.0
Dr Watson for Windows CE
Best practices for driver development
Windows CE for Critical security markets
Kernel mode drivers
Performance tools and techniques
User mode drivers
File system drivers
Web Services on Devices
The TechEd Main Conference Sessions will then focus on the assumption that the BSP work is already done, and therefore deal with componentization, customization, and application development - I will publish a complete list of sessions and speakers over the next week or so.
The other advantage of coming to TechEd is the breadth of other content that typically wouldn't be covered at MEDC, we know that more devices are getting connected (to each other, or to "cloud services"), building the back end service that the devices connect to is something that you might be interested in, topics that cover SQL, ASP.NET, AJAX, and other related technologies may be of interest to you even though you are an "embedded developer".
A complete catalog of sessions is available on the TechEd 2008 Developers site.
Comments, questions ?