At the Windows CE Developers Conference in San Jose, California, this week, Microsoft Corporation has begun revealing information about the next major release of Windows CE, version 3.0. Windows CE 3.0, which is expected to ship in early 1999, is still in the final planning stages, though Microsoft expects the OS to be more like its siblings, Windows 98 and Windows NT.

"The final spec for 3.0 is not done," said Tony Barbagallo, a Windows CE product manager at Microsoft.

Numerous features of Windows CE 3.0 are known, however. Windows CE 3.0 will include support for COM, DCOM, and RPC (Remote Procedure Call), which are object-based communications technologies in use already on Windows 98/NT. Barbagallo also said that DirectX support--which enables graphics and sound features just like those on the other Windows--will be available as well. As always, Windows CE 3.0 will be designed to be processor independent, and the number of processors that run CE 3.0 will expand.

Microsoft is also working to make CE into a "real-time" operating system.

"Today we're adequate for a number of applications, but we'd like to expand Win CE to a number of other applications, some of which require greater responsiveness," Barbagallo said, adding that CE 3.0 will be perfect for robotics and factory use, especially with bridges, routers, and hubs.

Barbagallo says the Windows CE 3.0 will remain small despite all the additions, probably around 300K. Developers who create Windows CE 3.0 apps will add new features as components on top of this kernel