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Lots of specialized mobile devices use Windows CE or Windows Mobile.

I'm not talking about smart phones here -- I know that Windows Phone 7 is Microsoft's current technology of choice here. I'm talking about barcode readers, embedded devices, industry PDAs with specialized hardware, etc... the kind of devices (Example 1, Example 2) where Windows Phone Silverlight development is not an option (no P/Invoke to access the hardware, etc.).

Since direct Compact Framework support has been dropped in Visual Studio 2010, the only option to develop for these device currently is to use outdated development tools (VS 2008), which already start to cause trouble on modern machines (e.g. there's no supported way to make the Windows Mobile Device Emulator's network stack work on Windows 7).

Thus, my question is: What are Microsoft's plans regarding these mobile devices? Will they allow native applications on Windows Phone, such that, for example, barcode reader drivers can be developed that can be accessed in Silverlight applications? Will they re-add "native" Compact Framework support to Visual Studio and just haven't found the time yet? Or will they leave this niche market?

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closed as primarily opinion-based by gnat, MichaelT, Dynamic, Robert Harvey, mattnz Jul 8 '14 at 9:13

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

I don't think anyone here (unless they're a Microsoft employee) can give a meaningful answer to this. – ChrisF Nov 15 '11 at 10:36
@ChrisF: I was hoping that maybe someone read an interview or some article on the topic that I have missed that that provides some insight into this matter. Or that maybe someone who works at an embedded device hardware manufacturer can tell us about their future plans... – Heinzi Nov 15 '11 at 10:55
I forget where I read the article might have been on a few weeks ago. The article was one of those "company x makes plans for [Insert Windows 8 Device Here] type articles. It was some speculation in the article, I would assume accurate speculation to a certain degree, the article explain the future of Windows 8 on specialized devices ( ATMs, Point of Sale, ect ). So the future is Windows Phone 7, Windows 8 ( x86/x64/ARM ), and various versions of Windows 8 on specialized devices. – Ramhound Nov 29 '11 at 15:36
As for support for modern devices, virtualization will be required for older versions, support for MWCE 7 and 8 will likely be provided with Visual Studio Next( i.e. VS2012 ). Going forward as I indicated virtualization will be required. The simple fact is that Compact Edition is the old way of thinking ( i.e. Windows XP ) going forward Windows 7 and Windows 8 will be heavly supported. As developers we have to accept that a 10 year support cycle for an OS is not going to happen again, Microsoft made a huge mistake by allowing that to happen, and additional mistakes in the mobile market. – Ramhound Nov 29 '11 at 15:43
up vote 2 down vote accepted

I think the roadmap of Windows CE is still clear, because there's Microsoft Windows CE 7, the next successor of Windows CE 6.x.

Frustatingly, they named the product officially as Microsoft Windows Embedded Compact 7, but they said it's because in line with Windows 7 releases, only now for embedded.

for Windows Embedded Compact 7:

I suggest you install VS 2008 for Windows CE 7 because VS 2008 support Windows CE5, CE6 and CE7 devices, and VS 2010 still can't support Windows CE devices. This is from CE7 website:

NEW: Developing with Windows Embedded Compact 7 (formerly CE)
Just released, Windows Embedded Compact 7 (the next generation of Windows Embedded CE) is based on the power of the Windows 7 platform. Compact 7 is a real-time operating systems for a wide range of small-footprint consumer and enterprise devices. Development tools like Platform Builder, a Visual Studio 2008 plug in, provide an integrated development environment (IDE) that enables you to build applications and Windows Embedded CE operating system software in a familiar environment.

And Windows CE 7 has little relation with Windows Phone 7, because they share the same code base of basic services of Windows 7. There's also no detail information about Silverlight running on Windows CE 7, but I can assure you they support it:

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Given my experience with Microsoft I am not sure they know themselves.

Windows Phone 7 is still based on Windows CE (6.5), but the platform is hidden under thick layer of .NET. At work we have a C++ application that was developed for WCE and is now ported to a couple of other platforms, so we also inquired at Microsoft how we could port that application to WP7. The answer was along the lines of "$company did it, so it must be possible. By the way, you need to renew your .NET certification". It seems $company (our competitor) only has (or had at the time; didn't check since) a mock up or demo, not a working product.

I'd really suggest you start looking for some embedded Linux vendor. If you have existing CF code, you should be able to get it working using Mono.

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