Windows Embedded Compact Migration: What You Need to Know


With end of life dates for Windows CE and Mobile OS, we explore the key considerations when planning for the lack of support for Microsoft Embedded devices.

Part 1: Windows Embedded Compact Migration and End-of-Life

Windows Embedded Compact 6.0 has been available since 2006 and Windows Embedded Compact 7.0 dates back to 2011.

For device manufacturers and software developers, there are several important dates in the platforms’ product lifecycles, especially when ‘mainstream’ and ‘extended’ support ends.

Mainstream support is available during system development when problems occur that may require Microsoft assistance. Windows customers can raise a support ticket (for a minimal fee) to help identify and hopefully rectify any issues, whether in the OS configuration or OS itself.

This help can be very useful with some non-mainstream features; each time we’ve used this service it has proved invaluable identifying whether the OS has an issue or the system has been misconfigured.

Windows CE End of Life Support Phases

Sadly, after an OS enters the extended support phase, no patches will be applied, unless security related. After the extended support phase no patches are applied, security or functional.

The following table reveals the key dates for a number of Windows CE variants.

Many Microsoft customers can choose to migrate to the next version of Windows Embedded Compact or to another choice of OS/platform as the dates highlighted in yellow approach.

This decision can be influenced by the current hardware platform and the type and amount of supporting application software.

Some customers require ongoing security patches to support product sales including devices in the banking and medical sectors; while others are looking for the next generation platform.

Clearly, any development will need support during the design phase and throughout the product lifecycle – so selecting a platform with longevity is important.

CE5.0 and CE6.0 hardware resources are similar; CE7.0 offered larger images and higher RAM usage, as did 2013. This means that migrating to the next version of the operating system may not be viable on the current hardware platform.

The effort to port, test and re-validate the platform to extend product life for a few years can be a painful process.

This may be a good time to look at revamping the platform; adding features that are in demand for next generation devices, and updating the processor and other components nearing obsolescence.

One of these key upgrade considerations is also the operating system.

So what choices are available?

Windows CE has now been superseded by Windows IOT which has limited platform compatibility; the other two main contenders are Linux and Android. Android better serves multi-purpose devices, leaving Linux as the main choice for a single-purpose embedded device.

Our focus now is Embedded Linux porting.

This gives us an ideal focus for the migration from Microsoft to Linux at both the OS and application layers. See for more information.

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