Microsoft Corp. on Wednesday evening will announce that it will, for the first time, give OEMs, vendors and systems integrators full access to the source code for Windows CE as well as the rights to modify and ship the code commercially in CE-based devices.
The move will allow licensees to create new devices by building on top of the Windows CE code base, a real-time operating system for rapidly building the next generation of 32-bit connected, Windows-powered smart mobile and small footprint devices.
It will also further expand Microsofts Shared Source Initiative, which was first reported by eWEEK in March 2001. This latest component of the initiative will be known as the Windows CE Shared Source Premium Licensing Program or CEP and builds on the existing Windows CE Shared Source Licensing Program, which allows developers, researchers, students and other interested parties to use the code for any noncommercial purpose.
Customers can also use the source code to develop, debug and support their own commercial software and hardware for the Windows CE platform.
Through its Shared Source Initiative, Microsoft has already made available some source code for Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows CE 3.0, Windows CE .Net, Microsoft Passport Manager, and components of Visual Studio .Net and ASP.Net.
Some commentators have also noted that Microsofts recent “ASP .Net Starter Kit License” seems to be inching closer—at least in spirit—to the open-source GNU General Public License (GPL).
A Microsoft spokesman on Wednesday declined to give specific details about the CEP licensing agreement until its formally announced tonight, except to say that “once the pre-requirements for eligibility are met, this is a no-fee program, as is the case with all Shared Source Initiative offerings.”
However, Microsoft has previously said its Shared Source Initiative “makes source code more broadly available while preserving the intellectual property rights that sustain a strong software business.
“Each source-licensing program … is tailored to the needs of a particular Microsoft constituent community and can be applied as a model for increasing code transparency throughout commercial software. Shared Source is an evolving framework that will support additional source-code access programs and licenses involving many Microsoft product groups,” the company has said.
More information on the shared source licensing program and the new CEP is available here.
A Microsoft spokesman told eWEEK on Wednesday that a number of companies, including ARM Ltd., BSQUARE Corp., Hitachi Ltd., Mitsubishi Electric Corp., and Samsung Electronics have joined the CEP pilot program and are already developing differentiated embedded products.
Hitachi, for example, has already begun shipping devices based on Windows CE with modifications under the CEP. Shigeru Matsuoka, a general manager in Hitachis Mobile Information & Communication Appliance division, said in a statement that having the rights to modify the Windows CE .Net source code allowed the company to create an enhanced user experience, specifically for one of its new mobile devices. It also let it bring optimized and differentiated devices to market quickly, he said.
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