Microsoft Corp is reshaping Windows CE for a wireless corporate role, announcing a CE version of its SQL Server 7, along with other major products and enhancements, at the CE developers conference in Denver, Colorado. CE-based devices will be able to access SQL7 and other databases being developed by Sybase Inc and Simba Technologies Inc, […]
Microsoft Corp is reshaping Windows CE for a wireless corporate role, announcing a CE version of its SQL Server 7, along with other major products and enhancements, at the CE developers conference in Denver, Colorado. CE-based devices will be able to access SQL7 and other databases being developed by Sybase Inc and Simba Technologies Inc, using OLE DB, through a set of open interfaces – part of what Microsoft has dubbed its global data access architecture. Developers will be able to build company specific applications using ActiveX Data Objects (ADO), controls that enable developers to create programs using check-list dialog boxes rather than manually coding the application.
Phil Holden, group product manager for Windows CE, said that the CE version of SQL7 will be entirely separate from the existing program, but would be able to access data from other databases residing on a corporate network. He envisaged companies building sales force automation applications, order entry programs and mobile databases using SQL7 CE and the global data access architecture. The data access components – including an ADO component and an OLE DB developers kit, are scheduled for beta release later this year.
In its bid to increase connectivity, Microsoft has also reworked its ActiveSync synchronization software. Holden said the development team had reworked the plumbing of the application so that remotely connecting CE devices was more reliable. The team has also spruced up the user interface and ActiveSync 3.0 is expected to ship in the fall. In addition, Microsoft will bundle a CE version of the Outlook client with Outlook 2000.
Microsoft has attempted to address the problem of supporting five different versions of Windows CE with the Common Executable Format, which allows developers to write the same code for each version. That code is compiled once by the CE device itself when a program is first installed. Throughout, Holden was keen to point to the diversity of CE, claiming its modular nature gives vendors more freedom to tailor the devices for their specific device.
However, despite all these improvements, the problem for Microsoft – and all the handheld vendors – is ensuring that devices can link into corporate back-end, get on the internet, check email and the like, without having ‘gaps’ in mobile communications network coverage. Holden says that mobile networks are not such a problem in Europe because GSM has been widely adopted as standard. However, Holden says that in the US, Microsoft is trying to ensure that CE is airlink independent and supports the all the mobile standards used by the major carriers.