Windows Mobile 6 and the CE OS

Posted by: Sue Loh 

Now that WM6 is publicly announced, I want to start taking steps to prevent confusion about one detail that is pretty major to most people who read this blog.  Windows Mobile 6 does NOT run the CE 6 OS.  Technically the OS version # in WM6 is 5.02; it's an advancement of the OS (5.01) that was in WM5.  Certain CE6 OS features have been ported to WM6.  But the kernel VM architecture we've been discussing here does NOT apply to Windows Mobile 6.

Why on earth would it be this way?  Well, the two projects were essentially developed in parallel.  The CE6 OS work happened in an embedded only context, while people were off working on the latest greatest WM6 features at the same time.  It let us get WM6 underway without having to port the Windows Mobile code to the as-yet-unreleased (at the time) CE6 kernel.

So to all of you who wonder "why aren't there more high level features in CE6" it's because all those people you might have expected to be working on CE6 were working on WM6.  And if you wonder "why wasn't there more low level OS work in WM6" it's because those people were mostly working on CE6.  And if you wonder "why are they both 6," well...  it is fun to blame marketing.  🙂

Comments (17)
  1. Asang Dani says:


     I think this is definitely going to create confusion even in minds of experienced developers about version numbering and disparity thereof. I am sure a lot of thought goes into deciding trade names and OS version numbers – but in cases like these a lot of people like me are totally surprised. If it wasn’t for blogs like these most of us would have "assumed" the obvious. Thanks for keeping us posted.



  2. Matthew says:

    So, when do we get all the dirt on what’s changed in 5.02 so we can start working around all those changes?

  3. MikeB says:

    I am was wondering if there are any 3D display requirements required for CE 6.0 ?   Will a software only implementation of a 3D driver meet LTK requirements ?

  4. Sue says:

    Mike, I don’t think many (any?) of us on this blog know much about display drivers.  And, isn’t the LTK something specific to Windows Mobile?  I don’t think the LTK applies to CE 6.0.


  5. Mike Dimmick says:

    The question for the Windows Mobile team is why they didn’t call it Windows Mobile 5.1 or 5.5 considering that the changes are pretty minor. I suppose they just don’t want to confuse the end-user any more than they already do (sneakily adding features in AKUs is really poor).

  6. Kurt Kennett says:

    As Sue mentioned, it’s fun to blame marketing.

    In the Development teams (especially), we have very little to do with what a product is named.  We express our opinions and that’s all we can do.

  7. ce_base says:

    Also, just because the OS didn’t change much doesn’t mean that the Windows Mobile components on top of the CE OS didn’t.  Like I said, a bunch of higher-level feature work was going on, on WM6, at the same time that lower-level OS work was taking place on CE6.  Windows Mobile 6 has some pretty big features that Windows Mobile 5 doesn’t have…  But don’t ask me to list them because I’m too clueless to do so.  🙂


  8. There has been some confusion around the OS version supporting Windows Mobile 6. Sue Loh does an excellent

  9. J144 says:

    So is the process limit any higher for Windows Mobile 6?

  10. ce_base says:

    No.  Windows Mobile 6 is basically the Windows CE 5.0 OS underneath.  Don’t expect any major kernel differences between WM5 and WM6.

    We pulled some tricks in WM6 to squeeze a little more VM space, but then pretty much consumed what we saved.  So the net effect is that you see almost the same VM / process limits as before.


  11. J144 says:

    Sue, thank you very much for pointing this out.  My disdain for all things marketing has grown a hundred-fold!

  12. Andy Raffman says:

    Mike: The LTK is only for Windows Mobile devices, not for Windows CE Embedded devices.

    For Windows Mobile devices it is possible to pass the LTK with a software-only 3d device driver. In fact, the majority of devices in the market today have no 3d hardware support and rely on software drivers. Most of the major silicon vendors have already developed and are shipping D3DM software drivers optimized for their particular processor. Of course, hardware is usually alot faster…

  13. Nicolas says:


    I think Windows Mobile 5 Second Edition would have been more appropriate.

    Now, to be more confusing, I would propose Windows Mobile 6 Second Edition for the WinMo running CE6 kernel 😉

    I am no Markerting genious but I don’t think Crossbow has to have a different major version number with Magneto as the only major add ups are some Web / messaging features and VoIP stuff …

  14. JasperM says:

    I think "Windows CE Vista Professional Ultimate #1 OS" would have more appropriate.  Anyone else?

  15. Jim Huddle says:

    I’m curious what the sales numbers are.  CE6 "rolls out," like I’m going to pop it onto my $700 handheld, or buy a NEW $700 handheld that’s based on CE6.  With neither case occurring, wouldn’t it be prudent to lay a little low with the CE6 rollout?  OR…  Perhaps the consumer goods market is really only a tiny subset of the huge CE market share.    Do the numbers support this?  Are there really tens of percents more factory equipment manufacturers buying CE?  In that case, perhaps MS should separate the events (WM6 with CE5.2 at one convention; CE6 for CNCs, machinists , and manufacturers at a different convention).  Because if the latter market truly eclipses the consumer handhelds, CE will never sync up with WM, and this confusion will perpetuate.  (My hunch is, even if the embedded market is larger than the handheld market, the latter is growing more quickly)

  16. Wind_Rider says:

    Is it possible at all to install any additional application in a windows CE base GPS navigator (exp. MIO c510) ?

  17. ce_base says:

    It depends on what the OEM of the device left open to you, but chances are that a GPS developer would choose NOT to let you install anything else.


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