Your Feedback – Windows CE tools.

Windows CE 5.0 has been shipping since July of last year, I believe we've made good progress with the tools used to configure, build, and debug Windows CE operating system images since the initial release of Windows CE 2.0 way back in 1998.

I'm interested in getting your honest feedback on what works well, and what's broken or could be improved with the Windows CE 5.0 tools.

- Mike

Comments (10)

  1. tzagotta says:

    We’re looking to get started with a new design that could use Windows CE 5.0. What is a good way to get started?

    (So I guess some feedback would be that, it is not clear how to get started. :o)

  2. Bulma says:

    I think that code editor (and whole GUI in fact) in PB is a bit outdated (looks like VS6.0)… Intelisense/coloring for ASM files would also be great…

  3. Matt says:

    I’m really glad to hear anyone in the CE team asking these kind of questions!

    Below are some randomly mixed opinions of mine…

    I realize that my feedback below doesn’t give a very positive atmoshpere. I don’t mean to shoot you as the messenger, you’re indeed doing a great job. I do follow your blog and it’s great! But please take the below comments back to your team(s).

    Platform builder is a poor product from a usability point of view. Having worked with Visual Studio (C#/C++) and some Java development tools the last years, it was a shock for me to start using Platform builder. Please work with the tools division to come up with a more Visual Studio like approach. Visual Studio is sooo much better in terms of everything. Of course I realize that those are different products with different tasks. But still, I can’t see why PB shouldn’t give equally good usability. Also, PB feels slow even on a high-end machine.

    It’s a PAIN to use Platform builder together with a version control system. Normally in a non-Windows CE development environment, you install the IDE to Program Files, and then you can have that directory read-only. Your code is somewhere else, such as C:projectsMyProjectX. To make a clean build, you simply erase the MyProjectX directory, make a clean build and grab it again from source control. With PB, you both need to be administrator and mix source code with the platform builder installation. Painful!

    Please make sure platform builder doesn’t change the .pbxml file every time you change between debug and release configuration. And that doesn’t randomly move around things when you do a simple configuration change. Please save a copy of your current .pbxml file for some os design. Add some compoenent. Change between debug/release build. Now diff the new .pbxml with the old one. (Hint: a QFE could solve this)

    Making a clean buddy build with Platform builder is painful. For instance, how do you wipe everything to make sure you get a clean build, get everything from SCM, and rebuild? I don’t think going into several directories under _WINCEROOT and erase files manually is a good way. It should be possible to keep BSPs, configuration and projects in an OS design in a directory separate from _WINCEROOT.

    Setting up automated daily builds with platform builder is painful. By this I mean setting up so you get your code from SCM, build one or more configurations ("Rebuild all"), get some nice summary output of the results so it’s easy to see build errors if any.

    It’s hard to share code between two BSPs, if you don’t want to add stuff to the public directory (which you don’t want it you’re working in a SCM and daily build environment).

    It’s painfully slow adding/removing features from an OS design. Make it a background thread operation, and have some cancel button if you change your mind.

    We’ve ended up in making custom tools for managing .bib and .reg files. As an OEM building a complete platform, it’s hard to have get overview otherwise.

    Are you using Platform builder internally? Seriously… There can’t be teams internally really using platform builder similar to how OEMs do. Try making a large project internally at Microsoft. Use some commonly used SCM system, such as Subversion. Try to work with some parallel branches. Make sure you don’t run as administrators. Setup daily builds from the SCM system.

    Make build.exe support Unicode resource files. (Hint: a QFE could solve this)

    Make it possible for OEMs to test NETCF v2 in a true PB environment. Waiting for the release isn’t a good thing for OEMs that want testing in advance. Neither is answers such as "Meanwhile testing can be done with RAM install", since not all OEMs have a platform where this will work. See this thread for instance:

    Again, thanks for asking :). Keep up this good work!

  4. Leon Meijer says:

    I’m using the Windows Mobile 5 emulator in Visual Studio 2005, hosted in a Virtual PC. The emulator is complaining about a failure with its network card and VPC.

    I hope you guys can fix this problem before VS goes RTM. Note: I installed the DMA update for beta 2.

  5. Marcelo van Kampen says:

    Well, you already know my complain about SDAuthUtil on an other WinXP language than English… Really Really looking forward to see this bug corrected.

    Also, a way to export/import your plataform would be good. Every time that my machine get´s formatted, it´s a long way to restore the platform back to it´s functional work again.

    Also, i would like to see clarified the way that the Build is done. Sometimes i need to do a clean recompile on the Entire image just to make sure that my driver/application modification is done. Seriously, as a example when i need to do a custom MediaPlayer, I end up first porting it to EVC4 and then i start to do the tests because of the ability to test/modify the code/test without recompiling everything.

    It is a great tool indeed, a bit jerky at learning curve, but when you get how everything works, things start to go better.

  6. Demetrius Tsitrelis says:

    Please include some explanation in the docs as to the interoperability of the x86 emulator in PB and the ARM emulator in VS 2005. Can the VS 2005 debugger attach to the PB emulator or vice versa?

  7. Santosh says:


    Can any body tell me how to debug windows CE.Net 4.2 emulator device.

    This is urgent.

    Expecting your reply

    Please reply to me to below given id

    Warm Regards


  8. Helge Kruse says:

    Looking from CEPB3.0 to 4.x it looked like to get a way to integrate SCM. Why did you fail to add SSCM support for the BSP. The platform builder should be the development plaform for a BSP. The developer stands in the rain. And it poors.

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