Microsoft officially shipped Windows CE 6.0 today. The latest release of Microsoft's embedded OS brings a number of improvements, including improved performance, better multitasking, and better integration with Visual Studio.
Most interesting of all, however, with this release Microsoft has upped the ante on its Shared Source licensing program, which gives developers access to Microsoft source code (but not license to redistribute it, in contrast to open source). Parts of earlier editions of Windows CE were available under a Shared Source license previously, but version 6.0 offers 100 percent of the CE kernel source code. What's more, the source is included on the distribution disc itself, which means it's available automatically to any developer who purchases the OS and agrees to the Shared Source license terms.
The device software market is heating up, with Linux gaining traction as a low-cost option for embedded devices. Developers like Linux because it gives them access to system internals, making it easier to tune the OS for custom devices. By making the source code to Windows CE available to developers, Microsoft gives Windows developers a similar advantage.
As Microsoft continues to broaden its Shared Source program, as well as forging alliances with prominent open source vendors, are we seeing the beginnings of a new day in Redmond? Or is it all just shrewd marketing? Share your thoughts.