A new release of Microsoft's Windows CE is poised to make devices more secure, reliable and better at handling multimedia files, according to the company.
Additionally, Windows CE 5.0 will bring improvements for developers by offering improved hardware support and a unified development environment, Microsoft said in a statement released at the Embedded Systems Conference in San Francisco.
A beta version of Windows CE 5.0 was to be handed out to event attendees and be made available on the Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) last Thursday, Microsoft said.
The final version of the operating system for embedded use is due midyear, the company said.
Windows CE 5.0 is the next version up from Windows CE 4.2, which was released last year. The operating system software is used in a variety of devices including set-top boxes, wireless routers and wireless displays. Windows CE is also the basis of Microsoft's Windows Mobile Software used in Pocket PCs and smart phones.
Key features in the new release would be an integrated development environment, allowing developers to work in a graphical environment and use a command line interface from the same tool, Microsoft said.
Additionally, increased hardware support with more than 50 drivers should make life easier for developers.
The Windows CE 5.0 release also had a security and reliability focus with all components set to the highest security level by default, Microsoft said.
Also new was error reporting, which would allow makers of devices that connect to the Internet to get reports of problems with their products, Microsoft said.
To support more multimedia-centric devices, Microsoft in Windows CE 5.0 includes support for Direct3D, a programming and graphics model based on DirectX, which is part of the desktop Windows operating system.
The technology would be useful for new devices such as Portable Media Centres, a class of Windows CE-based products that Microsoft hardware partners were expected to ship later this year, the company said.