A sign that everyone has just given up

I’ve been working in the Windows Embedded space for over a decade now, and I must say it’s a far different picture today than it was in years past.  That’s not a jaded nostalgia either – Windows Embedded used to have a real annual conference at nice venues in Las VEgas.  We has good speakers and great content.  The teams in Redmond shared loads of info about what was going on and what was coming down the pike.  Teams cared about what they were doing and what their customers wanted.


Slowly, though, it seems to have atrphied to the state that it’s in today.  I know of no one using Compact 7 in an actual product.  The Compact Framework hasn’t had an update in something like 4 years and there is absolutely no word at all what its future might be.  The tools required to do development for non Windows Phone devices are no longer available unless you purchase a full (expensive) MSDN subscription.  I can usually count the number of questions that get asked in public forums and places like Stack Overflow in a week on two hands – sometimes just one.


Today I got what had to be one of the most telling things I’ve seen though.  A sign that the people is Redmond just don’t care any longer either.  For years, Microsoft has sent out a monthly embedded newsletter – the Windows Embedded InfoBlast – and while the quality of the contents has been in the same slow decline as the rest of the industry, the one I received today just pegged the “I no longer give a shit” meter.  This is exactly how it looks in Outlook for me:


 



Obviously either no one cared enough to even look at that before it went out, or if the did they didn’t care if anyone actually read it.  Looking at it is like looking into the sun, but without the benefit of the warmth on your face.

5 Comments

  1. I still firmly believe that Windows CE is one of the best embedded OSes out there, and the tools really are second to none, both for OS and app development. The issue is that Microsoft has been neglecting Windows CE for some time, and it’s getting harder and harder to convince people that it’s the way to go. Today, hardened mobile devices like what you’re after are almost exclusively Microsoft-based, but I suspect that’s going to start changing becasue Microsoft is doing nothing (publicly anyway) to even attempt to keep hold of the market. I suspect you’ll start seeing Android-based devices for many of these applications in the next year. Your development tools will still be worse than Visual Studio, but at least they’re still being actively worked on.

  2. Windows on ARM might be a good alternative, but MS may not allow producing it in handheld form factor. Smaller issue is that MS may allow running native code only to OEMs.

    I suspect many manufacturers of Windows Mobile rugged devices are working on Android-based devices. Android, especially with QT support, may be a good alternative to Windows CE for another 10 years.

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