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David CampbellProgram Manager
David Campbell is a Program Manager on the Windows Embedded Compact team. David’s been at Microsoft since 1994 and has spent most of his time working on embedded software and hardware projects.
Posted By David CampbellProgram Manager
In a previous post, I discussed the Windows Embedded Compact 2013 announcement and a number of great new features in the OS and tools. With those posts, I received a number of questions about the tools. As you all know, Windows Embedded Platform builder (PB) is a plug in to Visual Studio. For Windows Embedded Compact 7, our Platform Builder plug in and tools were hosted by Visual Studio 2008, while Platform Builder in Windows Embedded Compact 2013 will be hosted in Visual Studio 2012. A number of people asked whether PB from Windows Embedded Compact 7 could be hosted in Visual Studio 2012, or alternatively whether PB from Windows Embedded Compact 2013 can target Windows Embedded Compact 7. Unfortunately, the answer to that is no. There had to be significant changes to both Windows Embedded Compact 2013, including PB, as well as Visual Studio 2012 to support the latest versions of each. The hosting has changed, and more importantly, the compilers and ABI (Application Binary Interface) to the ARM chipset has changed and are incompatible with each other. Even though each version of Windows Embedded Compact 7 can target the same chipset in this case, the compilers from each cannot support the other. More information will be posted on this in a future article.
While the Windows Embedded Compact 2013 announcement is certainly exciting, we want to continue posting great information on Windows Embedded Compact 7 as well. To that end, we have another great in-depth article from Doug Boling to share.
Microsoft Platform Builder is a tool that anyone who ports Windows Embedded Compact will live in throughout the project. (PB is also used when creating new device images from scratch. This information certainly applies to that scenario as well.) Given the time spent in this tool, it’s critical that your development machine be properly configured to maximize the performance of the tool and by implication your performance.
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Embedded OEMs and developers often struggle with how to bring up hardware to quickly begin work on their overall solutions. Often, product requirements limit platform options and require extensive development time and costs. Windows Embedded partner Toradex has a great solution to this challenge. Toradex specializes in embedded hardware and software, and with Windows Embedded Compact, Toradex is able to provide solutions that can be not only used to quickly bring up your product, but also provide cost-effective hardware with which you can ship your product.
Toradex has a line of boards and modules that are both standardized and flexible. The Colibri hardware design scales from 208 MHz up to 1 GHz nVidia Tegra 3 and allows hardware updates by just swapping these standardized, pin-compatible modules. A very cool design! Standardization allows costs to be reduced, and it’s flexible enough to be used in a large variety of devices and industries, ranging from industrial automation and control to aerospace and medical. Toradex sells exclusively over the Internet and ships worldwide. And because of their redundant manufacturing facilities around the world, they can provide a reliable supply chain.
Woo hoo, it’s finally time to share more information about the upcoming release! First, the release now officially has a name: Windows Embedded Compact 2013. (I know that folks probably have questions around why we chose this name. We thoroughly considered a long list of potential names, including Windows CE again, and Windows Embedded Compact 2013 really did receive the best response.)
I’ll be doing a number of posts about the various key features and changes in Windows Embedded Compact 2013 over the next few posts, but I want to start with arguably the most interesting of the new features: the investments made for Visual Studio 2012 support, both ISV/app development via Visual Studio directly; and the OEM/device development experience with Platform Builder, now hosted in Visual Studio 2012!
With all development now in Visual Studio 2012, there is no longer a need for multiple versions of Visual Studio to support Compact development alongside other Windows platforms. Plus, you’ll get many of the new features and productivity improvements available in Visual Studio 2012 when developing for Compact! We now have the same C++ toolset and standards supported everywhere. (And of course Visual Studio 2012 includes the new features from Visual Studio 2010, which were not previously to Compact developers.)
As the Windows Embedded Compact v.Next launch approaches, we will soon be posting detailed information about the Compact OS and tools, both Platform Builder (used for Board Support Packages (BSPs) as well as drivers) and the use of Visual Studio itself for developing applications on top of Compact OS images. I’m looking forward to making more of the technical details of the release available, probably in small bits until we can go fully public, which will happen very soon.
In the meantime let’s take a detailed look at the CEPC BSP. Here’s a guest post by Doug Boling again with a great overview based on his recent webcast. (More details on Doug’s webcast series are provided at the end of the article.)
The CEPC board support package (BSP) in Windows Embedded Compact 7 is one of the frequently used BSPs in Platform Builder. Unfortunately it is also one of the more difficult to customize. It may seem strange to customize a BSP that runs on a generic PC chassis but when used on a production embedded system, some form of customization such as splash screens or subtle changes in hardware is almost always necessary.
The difficulty in customizing the CEPC BSP comes from its file structure. Before I can explain the problem, I need to discuss the architecture of a standard Windows Embedded Compact BSP
At the recent Visual Studio launch event, it was confirmed that Visual Studio 2012 will once again include support for Windows Embedded Compact. Included in that support we’re targeting much of the newest compiler and tools functionality, most notable of which includes new compiler features such as C++11 language standards, faster more efficient code generated, an updated CRT, auto-parallelization and auto-vectorization (Wow, that’s a mouthful.), range based loops, RValue references, and more. Also included will be an updated version of .net CF which has greatly improved performance, particularly around memory allocation and garbage collection - using the “generational” garbage collector. This not only provides more performance, but more predictability in the execution of applications.
More information about the new Visual Studio, including support for Compact, can be found at the Visual Studio Launch site. (Yes, I’m in the video and no, I’m not going to be able to make a living in front of the camera. But it’s the message that’s important here.)
Be sure to check back in the future as we release more information on the upcoming Windows Embedded Compact release.