Formerly known as Windows CE, the Windows Embedded Compact operating system (OS) was initially released in 1996.  It’s a 32-Bit, small-footprint OS with hard real-time capability, designed to support multiple processor architectures, including ARM, MIPS and x86 processors.Windows Embedded Compact includes efficient and effective tools to help development team rapidly create application for new generation of intelligent devices and support native and managed code application development, using C, C++, C# and Visual Basic.  Whether you are part of a large development team or an individual developer working on small projects, Windows Embedded Compact provides an efficient platform to develop new generation of network enabled intelligent devices.

This series of Windows Embedded Compact 7 (Compact 7) getting started entries is created to provide easy to follow information, with sample exercises in step-by-step format, to help academic, hobbyist and commercial developers to learn and engage in Windows Embedded Compact application development.

The following subjects are planned for this series:

  1. Introduction.
  2. Development Environment & Tools:  Provides brief introduction to Windows Embedded Compact, development environment, tools and required connectivity between the development PC and target device.
  3. Develop a Compact 7 OS Design:  Shows the steps to develop Compact 7 OS design for a target device.
  4. Develop Managed Code Application for Compact 7:  Shows the steps to develop managed code application for a Compact 7 device.
  5. Develop Native Code Application for Compact 7:  Shows the steps to develop native code application for a Compact 7 device.
  6. Develop SQL Compact Database Application for Compact 7:  Shows the steps to develop database application for Compact 7, targeting SQL Compact database, using managed code.
  7. Develop Silverlight for Windows Embedded Application for Compact 7:  Shows the steps to develop Silverlight for Windows Embedded application for a Compact 7 device.
  8. Debug and Remote Tools:  Provides brief introduction to the debug and remote tools provided as part of the Compact 7 Platform Builder.
  9. Deploy OS Runtime to Target Device for Distribution:  Shows the steps to deploy Compact 7 OS runtime image to a target device for distribution to end user.


The main objective for this getting started series is to provide simple and direct technical information to help developer new to Windows Embedded Compact to become familiar with the development environment and tools quickly.Throughout this series, hands-on examples in step-by-step format are provided to show the steps to accomplish different Windows Embedded Compact development tasks.

To keep the information easy to follow and understand, short and simple examples are used throughout this series to demonstrate how to accomplish complicated tasks with help from the development tools provided as part of the Compact 7 software suite.

Related Articles

In addition to the above articles, the following are related articles with supplemental information relate to Compact 7 development:

Target Device:  eBox-3300MX

For this series of getting started guide, the eBox-3300MX (eBox) is used as the target device, build with an x86 processor.  The eBox is built with the following:

  • GHz Vortex86MX CPU, 512 MB system memory
  • 10/100 Mbps Ethernet, HD Audio, 3 USB host interfaces, 2 serial ports
  • VGA video output, PS/2 keyboard and mouse
  • SD flash storage (bootable)

For more information about the eBox-3300MX target device, visit the following URL:   

Note:     You can use a different model of the eBox, such as eBox-3300A, eBox-3310A, eBox-3310MX and eBox-3350MX, as the target device for the exercises in this series of Compact 7 getting started guide. 

Alternative Target Device:  Virtual PC

It’s possible to work through the exercises in this series using a Virtual PC as the target device.  A board support package (BSP) for the Virtual PC is provided as part of the Compact 7 software.

The Virtual PC is based on the x86 processor architecture, Other than the different BSP components which impact some of the steps in the OS design exercise, you can work through all of the exercises in this series, with minimal variation.

For more information, refer to the following guide:

  • Windows Embedded Compact 7:  Using Virtual PC as Target Device

Alternative Target Device:  Other Hardware

It’s possible to work through the exercises in this series using a different hardware platform.To use a different hardware platform as the target device, you need a Compact 7 BSP for the hardware platform.  If you need help, feel free to contact us at the following email alias:

Windows Embedded Compact 7 Resources

There are quite a few Windows Embedded Compact related resources from Microsoft and the community.  Links to these resources will be provided on the following URL:

Here are some of the useful Compact 7 resources for developer new to Windows Embedded Compact:

Evaluation Software:

Microsoft provides fully function Windows Embedded Compact 7 software with 180 days limit for evaluation.The Compact 7 evaluation software is available for download from the following URL:


Technical Documentation

Technical documentation for Windows Embedded Compact 7 is available on MSDN, from the following URL:

Microsoft Forum

The following Microsoft forums are frequently monitored by experience developer in the community:       

  • Platform Builder related        

  • Managed Code application development related        

  • Native Code application development related

Embedded101 Articles

The article section on the Embedded101 community provides large collection of how-to and application notes.  You can find these articles from the following URL: