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By Chris De Herrera 
Copyright 1998-2007
 All Rights Reserved
A member of the Talksites Family of Websites

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Windows CE versus Windows NT Embedded
By Chris De Herrera, Copyright 1999

Version 1.00  Revised 7/30/99

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Introduction

Microsoft is now offering two different embedded operating systems - Windows CE and Windows NT Embedded.  The comparison below describes the major differences between the two platforms.

Comparison

Feature Windows CE Windows NT Embedded
Operating System Version 3.0 4.0 service pack 5
Supported CPUs x86, Mips, SH3, SH4, StrongARM, ARM, Power PC - Details x86 (Pentium, AMD K5/6, Cyrix 5x86/6x86)
CPU Speed Runs on as little as 80 mhz, can operate at 500+ mhz Recommended 300 mhz, can operate at 500+ mhz
Multiprocessor None - uniprocessor Up to 32, server edition, 4 workstation edition
Multitasking Preemptive - limited to 32 applications, supports threads Preemptive, supports threads
Memory - minimum 1 MB execution, no storage required 12 MB execution, 8 MB storage w/o networking, 16 Mb execution, 16 MB storage w/networking
Paging Dynamic paging based on available internal ram Paging file to secondary storage (fixed or dynamic) or disable paging
Utilities Command Shell, Pocket Internet Explorer (equivalent to Internet Explorer 4.0), Pocket Inbox, Help Engine - Client Functionality, Windows Terminal Server Client Command shell, text editing, Windows Explorer, Microsoft Management Console, network configuration utilities, Windows help engine, task scheduling, and others - Server or Workstation functionality
General Features Headless support
Diskless support - Boot from flash media, or CD Rom (Sega Dreamcast boots from CD)
Headless support
Diskless support - Boot from  flash media or CD Rom
Security None NTFS, application level
Display Optimized for smaller displays, supports up to 800 x 600 640 x 480 and larger standard displays
Communications Protocols TCP/IP, PPP, SLIP, PAP, CHAP, HTTP, IrDA TCP/IP, IPX/SPX, AppleTalk, Netbeui, PPP, SLIP, CSLIP, PAP, CHAP, PPTP, HTTP, RPC, SNMP
Data Storage ATA Flash, Linear Flash, PC Card hard disk, CompactFlash hard disk, IDE hard disk - FAT format - no capacity limit, CD Rom ATA Flash, M-Systems Disk on a Chip- Max capacity is 144 MB flash, Bootable CD Rom
Data Storage Formats FAT, FAT32 FAT, NTFS, compression
Power/CPU Management Power managent for extended battery life, instant on capable Unknown
API Subset of Win32 Full Win32
Development Tools Platform Builder ($999, not disclosed per license pricing) Requires Visual C++ Target Designer ($395). Target Designer + RTX ($1,950 plus $395 per license)

Conclusion

There are many pros and cons to each operating system so each developer should closely consider what features are important for their specific project.  For smaller applications, Windows CE will be the preferred operating system.  In some specialized applications like computer telephony, Windows NT Embedded will be preferred.   Each project requires analysis to decide which operating system is best. 

Whitepapers

Windows NT Embedded Overview
Windows NT Embedded Datasheet
Windows NT Embedded Whitepaper

VenturCom Windows NT Embedded versus Windows CE Whitepaper
VenturCom RTX Whitepaper

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