At midnight US Pacific Time tomorrow, Windows Embedded Compact 2013 – or perhaps better colloquially referred to as Windows CE 8.0 – will slip from history as it exits is Extended Support Phase with Microsoft and it, as well as the entire history of Windows CE, becomes an unsupported, retired former product.
Windows CE 8.0 was released on 11th August 2013 and slipped into the end of its mainstream support on 9th October 2018. Yet few even noticed either occurrence. As a product CE 8.0 release failed to gain much of any traction or fanfare. Even here in the Windows CE community, most people disregard Windows Embedded Compact 2013 as a complete non-starter. As with Windows CE 7.0 before it. Few, if any devices were ever released on the platform and as a result most people – myself included – have never even seen a physical CE 8 device.
I’ve used and own a lot of Windows CE-based devices over the years, and contrary to most people’s opinions, I absolutely adore Windows CE. Back when Apple was still busy not dying, and Android was barely a blip on anyone’s radar, Windows CE-based devices were incredibly powerful, versatile, and capable. Platforms like PocketPC and Windows Mobile may not have been the most graceful platforms, but they were so far ahead of anyone else when it came to pure functionality and capabilities it wasn’t even close.
I was streaming Futurama episodes from my Windows XP machine to my PocketPC, while checking my email and browsing with Pocket IE – in the early 2000s. No other platform could do this in a PDA form factor – not even Palm OS.
I hope, against my own better judgment, that Microsoft will do the right thing and publish the source code to Windows CE on Github. The number of Windows CE devices out there is immense, and giving the community the option of supporting them going forward would save a lot of them from the trash heap.