There were a number of announcements made at ESC East (and PDC) that might be of interest for both hobbyist and commercial developers.

.NET Micro Framework 3.0

The .NET Micro Framework team announced availability of the .NET Micro Framework 3.0 SDK with a number of new features.

  • Secure Sockets Layer (SSL)
  • FAT32-compatible file system
  • Compatibility with Visual Studio 2008 SP1 and Visual C# 2008 Express Edition
  • Touch screen (including gestures)
  • Interop features to call (and be called by) unmanaged code
  • Improved thread priorities
  • DPWS code generation tools
  • Act as a USB device for connection to PCs (sample code shows how to act as a mouse)
  • Support for Thumb, Thumb-2, and Analog Devices Blackfin instruction sets
  • Smaller footprint (as low as 64K of RAM)
  • Anti-aliased fonts
  • Simpler Porting Kit, with easier licensing and lower cost
  • WiFi support
  • Improved diagnostics of deployment and debugging issues

Windows 7 Embedded (codename Quebec)

The current release of Windows Embedded Standard is based on Windows XP Professional SP3, the new release for Windows Embedded Standard 2009 was announced at TechEd US in June, and has released to manufacturing – the evaluation version is available now to download, and the full version should be available towards the end of November.


Windows Embedded Standard- A Look At Some New Features

There are a number of Vista technologies included in the Windows Embedded Standard 2009 release, including Windows Media Player 11, .NET Framework 3.5 (which gives WPF, and WCF support).

At ESC Boston we announced that the next release of Windows Embedded Standard will be based on Windows 7, you can read the press announcement here.

Sparks will Fly competition

You are probably familiar with Spark your Imagination program that gives hobbyists access to full CE 6.0 embedded development tools and Visual Studio for just the cost of hardware.

The SPARK team have now launched a competition so that you, the hobbyist developer can show off your development skills – here’s a link to the “Sparks will Fly” competition page.

The competition is based around the theme of “Home of the future”, a fairly broad theme, which gives you plenty of options for building something cool! – the competition is roughly based on the same rules as the Imagine Cup.

The competition runs in three stages as follows…

  1. Round 1 – Submit a 3 page paper that describes your project, deadline Jan 7th 2009.
  2. Round 2 – 50 developers will move to round 2, here you get a free hardware/software development kit and you will build a prototype of your project – you then submit a 4-5 page paper that describes the project and technologies, and also a 3 minute video.
  3. One March 13th 2009 the top three finalists will be announced at ESC West, each of the finalists will receive a $1000 cash prize, and a flight to ESC West so they can show off their projects.

The winner of the project will be announced during the keynote at ESC West – the winner will win an additional cash prize of $15,000, and a trip to TechEd 2009 in Los Angeles to show off their project.

Sounds to me like you should get and enter the competition!!! (link to competition)

Tools Updates (always up to date tools)

Building an embedded device typically requires a number of software components/technologies in order to build out a final device – this could require bootloaders, BSPs, specific hardware drivers, and software stacks – many of the core components come from Microsoft through the Windows Embedded CE, or Windows Embedded Standard products, there are also a number of technologies that come from Silicon Vendors, System Integrators, Hardware manufacturers, and many of these components are hard to find/integrate into your embedded design.

At ESC East we demonstrated a technology preview of Windows Embedded '”Update”, an agent application that runs on your development machine that does two things…

  1. Looks for public content from Microsoft and 3rd parties – this could include QFEs, Service Packs, documentation updates, and software technologies (includes drivers, BSPs, and software stacks).
  2. Provides subscription access to early release technologies from Microsoft – Today, software updates are provided either through major releases (CE6 for example), or feature pack updates (CE6R2) – the feature pack contains a number of “features” (no surprise there!), some of these technologies may be developed and be ready early in the feature pack development process, others perhaps are complete later in the process – subscription would allow early access to some of these technologies – and could also provide access to full product downloads.

I will ask Olivier to record the demo from ESC East and drop that onto the blog, so you can see the agent in action.

CCR/DSS Toolkit

Oh, I nearly forgot!!! – At PDC 2008 the Robotics Studio team announced a new product, called the CCR and DSS Toolkit 2008 – this contains the CCR/DSS runtime for Windows CE and Desktop (or XPE/WES) systems, and the Visual Programming Language, but without all the Robotics services that you would find in the Robotics Developer Studio 2008. This is really targeted at developers that are building desktop/server/embedded applications that want to take advantages of the concurrency and distribution technologies but aren’t focused on robotics. Go check it out – super cool!

- Mike