Microsoft has discontinued extended support for the Windows Embedded Compact operating system, or Windows CE. It was released in 1996.
Windows CE is an operating system developed for Windows Embedded devices and aimed at enterprises manufacturing industrial controllers and consumer electronics devices. In 2008, Microsoft changed the name of Windows CE to Windows Embedded Compact. The operating system can run on various microprocessor architectures and supports x86, SuperH and ARM.
The first version of Windows CE was a multitasking, multithreaded and multi-platform OS with real-time support. Developers had access to about 600 components, using which they could create their own operating system images that include only the functionality necessary for this particular device.
Windows CE OS was originally designed so that it was compatible with universal Windows OS family. Therefore, the core and components of the first version of Windows CE OS were largely unified with the core and components of the Windows NT desktop OS family.
2012 marked the end of Windows CE as the system with which Microsoft wanted to create consumer products. Windows Phone 8 received the same kernel as desktop Windows. This step brought the company closer to the vision that was in 1994 and which was announced together with the first version of Windows 10 in 2014: a single system used on everything from phones and PCs to consoles and IoT devices. The company also released a stripped-down version of Windows 10 for customers who were still using Windows CE on their devices.
The latest OS version was Windows Embedded Compact 2013 (Windows CE 8.0), released on August 11, 2013. The main support for this version ended in October 2018, extended support — in October 2023.
For migration from Windows CE, Microsoft offered two solutions: switching to Windows 10 enterprise-class IoT or using the Windows CE application container on the basic version of Windows 10. Using Windows Embedded Compact 2013 is also possible for several more years, although without extended support: Microsoft has allowed the sale of licenses for the operating system until 2028.