Enterprises eyeing their crusty old Windows CE apps with alarm as Microsoft yanks the plug on its legacy operating systems will be relieved to see the company making good on its promised CE container technology.
Lurking within Windows 10 IoT Core Services, the tech (announced during Microsoft's Build 2020 event) allows those with legacy Windows CE apps to keep the things going a little longer using an ARM32 or x86 Windows Embedded Compact 2013 platform image within the IoT Core system image.
The resulting Windows 10 IoT Core image can then be deployed to Windows 10 IoT Core compatible hardware, affording a path to something a bit more modern without having to go through the pain of a full porting effort (which might, heaven forbid, see some users considering an alternative and decidedly non-Microsoft platform).
Windows CE, or Embedded, has seen other Microsoft operating systems, such as XP, Vista and 7, come and go during its 20 or so years. Various incarnations of the platform found their way onto a variety of PDAs and telephones long before the iPhone became a thing.
The Register's Bork column has frequently received reports of Windows Embedded devices being poorly out in the wild.
The final version, Windows Embedded Compact 2013, will come to the end of the extended support road in 2023, although Microsoft will keep flogging licences for the OS until 2028. Windows 10 IoT Core OS itself will carry on getting security updates until 2029, although 2021's Windows 10 IoT Enterprise will soon be the only non-server version of Windows 10 IoT available once the versions converge into a single Long-Term Servicing Channel product.
Users would be forgiven for being a little confused by the scattergun approach as Microsoft continues to shift the IoT goalposts in its lineup. To recap, Windows 10 IoT Core was aimed at smaller devices while Enterprise was more about full-fat Windows experience (and will shortly be on the receiving end of the Edge browser). Then there is Azure IoT Edge (not the browser) and Azure RTOS (real-time operating system) along with Linux workloads and modules.
The arrival of the CE App Container therefore has given those still clinging to the simpler days of Windows Embedded a bit more breathing space before making the leap to Windows 10 IoT Enterprise.
Or something else entirely. ®