Visual Basic

Getting Under the Hood

Many programmers are now familiar with the Windows architecture and have some knowledge of hardware used on platforms like the Intel x86. It would be wise to understand the principles of a platform before writing an application for that platform. For this reason, this section provides a brief overview of the core components that make up Windows CE. Please bear in mind that this section is not designed to be an exhaustive reference.

Supported Architectures

Microsoft's desktop and server operating systems presently support a limited number of platforms, such as Intel x86, Alpha, MIPS, and so forth. However, to target the mass electronics market, Windows CE must provide support for a vastly larger number of processors. After all, it is unlikely that a vendor using a tried and tested processor will want to change to an unfamiliar environment that might require a whole new learning curve and changes to test-bed equipment. Microsoft's commitment to Windows CE is such that even at this relatively early stage, support is already provided for CPUs from eleven manufacturers, and the list is growing! Currently support is provided for processors from the following CPU manufacturers:

  • AMD

  • Digital

  • Hitachi

  • IBM

  • Intel

  • LG Semiconductors

  • Motorola

  • NEC

  • Philips

  • Toshiba

  • QED

At present, the Microsoft Windows CE Toolkit for Visual C++ 5 can create programs for each of these platforms; however, the Microsoft Windows CE Toolkit for Visual Basic 5 can only create applications for HPC devices. At present, Philips and Hewlett-Packard are the two largest players in the commercial HPC market, the former using the MIPS platform and the latter using the SH3 platform from Hitachi. This supported hardware list will increase over time, I imagine, according to the demand from customers. I would also expect that the platforms available for Visual Basic will increase. This degree of flexibility is one reason why the industry is taking Windows CE very seriously.