Microsoft demonstrated continued strong momentum for its Windows CE .NET (formerly code-named Talisker) and Windows XP Embedded (XPe) platforms at the Embedded Systems Conference in San Francisco. Microsoft doubled shipments of its embedded products in 2001 and now controls almost 20 percent of the embedded market. Since Microsoft released Windows CE .NET in early January, more than 50,000 people have downloaded the product's software emulator, which lets developers create OS images on PCs without physically accessing the underlying hardware.

Microsoft has also expanded its Windows CE Shared Source program with a new initiative called the Windows CE Shared Source Academic Curriculum Program. The program will provide certain portions of the Windows CE source code to schools and other institutions. "Universities can now print certain aspects of the source code in their curriculum and materials," said Megan Kidd, product manager for Microsoft's Embedded and Appliance Platforms Group (EAPG). "It's for educational purposes only, however." The company also launched a new community for Windows CE device-driver writers that is somewhat similar to the open-source community that's building products such as Linux and Mozilla. "The Windows CE driver-development program is a Web location where ISVs \[Independent Software Vendors\] can get a free copy of the Windows CE .NET Platform Builder and provide drivers back to other developers. We'll also have more documentation, compatibility lists, white papers, and other information."

By the end of 2002, Microsoft will release XPe Service Pack 1 (SP1) to coincide with the wider XP SP1 release. Windows CE .NET will see a minor upgrade (code-named Jameson) that will add features such as Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) support, a Systems Management Server (SMS) client, and Microsoft Office document viewers. The company will also replace its current Windows 2000 Server Appliance Kit with a new version based on Windows .NET Server (Win.NET Server); the new product's name is a mouthful—Windows .NET Server with Server Appliance Kit 3.0. Also, Microsoft will update Visual Studio .NET to better accommodate embedded development: A set of Smart Device Extensions will ship, and the Microsoft .NET Compact Framework's final version will see the light of day by year's end.