Terminal Emulation for Windows CE, Mobility

One of Turbosoft's most popular products is TTWinCE, our terminal emulator for hand-held devices such as portable barcode scanners and mobile phones, and for embedded devices used in industrial equipment, POS terminals, thin clients and so on. TTWinCE is intended to work on a family of Microsoft operating systems designed for this class of device but unfortunately Microsoft's naming conventions for their O/S family can be somewhat confusing. Read on as we look at terminal emulation for Pocket PC, Windows Compact Embedded, Windows Mobile and the Windows Handheld Embedded family of operating systems.

The Windows Mobility Product Family

Pocket PC and Windows Mobile are names Microsoft gave to it's successive operating systems that run on mobile phones, PDA's and pocket computers. They have a relationship with the Windows CE family of operating systems in that they share a common kernel – the core of Windows CE serves as the core of this range of software. Lets take a quick look at the historical releases and names involved.

  • Palm PC 1.0

    Used Windows CE 2.0 base, released in the late 1990's

    The Palm PC 1.0 operating system attracted the attention of Microsoft's then rival in the hand-held computer business, Palm (now defunct). After deciding that the name 'Palm PC' was a little too close to their own offerings, Palm launched litigation and Microsoft was forced to change their product name to Pocket PC.

  • Pocket PC 2000

    Used CE 3.0 base

    Released around the year 2000, obviously. At that time Microsoft's naming convention used the date to differentiate product releases, notable examples being Windows 98 and Windows 2000.

  • Pocket PC 2002

    Used CE 3.0 base

  • Windows Mobile 2003

    Used CE 4.2 base

    Product name changes to Windows Mobile®.

  • Windows Mobile 2003 SE

    Used CE 4.2 base

  • Windows Mobile 5.0

    Used CE 5.0 base, released in 2005.

    Microsoft returns to a numeric release schedule in 2005 and the Windows Mobile Version now matches the versioning of it's Windows CE core.

  • Windows Mobile 5.0 SE

    Used CE 5.0 base

  • Windows Mobile 6.0

    Used CE 5.0 base, initially released in 2007.

    Version 6 of Windows Mobile also coincides with the version number of Microsoft latest desktop operating system at this point, Windows Vista.

  • Windows Mobile 6.1

    Used CE 5.0 base

  • Windows Mobile 6.5.x

    . Released in 2009.

  • Windows Phone 7

    Released in 2010.

    Windows Phone 7 represented the last Microsoft phone operating system to utilise the CE kernel as its base. Subsequent releases (Windows phone 8 etc) were built with different technology and applications built for earlier operating system were incompatible.

On consumer smart phone devices Microsoft's stopped making operating systems that used a CE kernel with Windows Mobile 6.5 and Windows Phone 7. Windows Phone 8 represents a break from earlier Mobility operating systems and it is not backwards compatible with it's earlier CE based software. Turbosoft does not produce a terminal emulator for any Windows Phone operating system at this point in time.

Smart phone usage aside, these operating systems remain in use on hand-held devices including those employing bar-code scanners and RFID which find usage in a variety of commercial applications where terminal emulation is required. TTWinCE packages are available for Windows Mobile 2003 and Windows Mobile 6.0 and above. (Download Trial Software)

The Windows Mobility range of operating systems is designed for ARM processor based devices including Xscale, Intel's ARM implementation.

To complicate matters in 2011 Microsoft released an operating system variant titled Windows Embedded Handheld based on the CE 5 kernel and compatible with Windows Mobile 6.5. Users looking for a terminal emulation solution for this operating system should look to Window Mobile 6 versions of TTWinCE.

Windows CE or Windows Embedded Compact
Windows CE.

Microsoft's Window CE® operating system.

Windows CE is an operating system designed for use in embedded systems, small footprint devices such as Point of Sales (PoS) devices, Kiosks, industrial equipment and controls, thin clients and so on. The official name of the operating system has changed from Windows CE to Windows Embedded CE and finally Windows Embedded Compact. In many ways Windows CE visually resembles earlier incarnations of Microsoft's full desktop operating system, such as Windows 2000. It is, however, wholly distinct and incompatible with it's desktop brethren. You cannot take an executable written for a Microsoft Desktop operating system and run in on a Windows CE device.

Windows CE is capable of running on devices powered by X86, MIPS and ARM processors. The ARM versions include XScale, an Intel microprocessor which is ARM based.

Turbosoft produces Windows CE versions of TTWinCE for X86 and ARM/XScale based devices.

When partnering with manufacturers Microsoft offered a "platform builder" with both it's Mobility range of operating systems as well as Windows CE. The platform builder was designed to tailor an operating system to the manufacturers needs using the Mobility or Windows CE elements as a base. Consequently the components of a devices O/S differ from device to device depending on how the manufacturer tailored the system. The Windows CE kernel was also used as the basis for the Windows Mobile/PocketPC range of operating systems.

Versions of Windows CE
  • Windows CE 3.0, released in 2000 (basis for Pocket PC, Pocket PC 2002).
  • Windows CE 4.x, released in 2003 (basis for Windows Mobile 2003)
  • Windows CE 5.x, released in 2004 (basis for Windows Mobile 5 and 6)
  • Windows CE 6.0 released in 2006
What is My Device Running?
Pocket PC desktop.

Microsoft's Pocket PC desktop

TTWinCE is available in a variety of install packages to suit the operating systems and architectures mentioned above. You should choose the install package that suits the operating system your device, be it Pocket PC, Windows Mobile, Windows CE or Windows Embedded Handheld.

A very simple way to get an idea the type of operating system your devices runs is to look at the location of the Start button. If your Start button is located at the top of screen (as shown opposite) then you require a Windows Mobility (Windows Mobile, PocketPC) version of TTWinCE. If the start button is located at the bottom of your screen you require a Windows CE version. The definitive answer is best determined through your devices documentation.

You should also determine what processors is powering your device, be it and ARM chip or an X86 chip as versions are also build for each of these. Again the best place to find this information is the product documentation or the device itself.

TTWinCE Terminal Emulator

Broadly speaking there are two types of TTWinCE install packages. Firstly, there are TTWinCE packages for Windows CE. Namely packages for Windows CE version 4.0 and packages for Windows CE version 5.0 and above. (Download Trial Software)

Secondly, there are TTWinCE packages for Windows Mobile 2003 and packages for Windows Mobile 6.0 and above (Download Trial Software).

You'll find that TTWinCE supports the full range of terminals found in our desktop Windows terminal emulator TTWin 4 including 3270 emulation, 5250 emulation and many, many more.

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