Formerly known as Windows CE, the Windows Embedded Compact family of operating system (OS) was initially released in 1996 by Microsoft.  It’s a 32-Bit, small-footprint OS with hard real-time capability, designed to support multiple processor architectures, including ARM and x86 processors.

Windows Embedded Compact 2013 (Compact 2013), the latest version, was initially released in Q2 of 2013.  Both application and OS design development tools were initially released as plugin to the Visual Studio 2012 Integrated Development Environment (IDE). Shortly after Visual Studio 2013 was released, application and OS design development tools for Compact 2013 were updated to work within the Visual Studio 2013 IDE.

With Compact 2013, it’s possible to create a small footprint OS image, less than 10 MB, to support realtime industrial automation application.  With some added component, you can create a customized OS image to support .NET managed code application, written in C# or Visual Basic, with an OS footprint around 20 ~ 30 MB.

Prior to October of 2013, Microsoft has been providing the Visual Studio Express version at no cost to the community, an amazing offer to the academic and hobbyist developer community.  However, it did not help the Windows Embedded Compact environment. The Visual Studio Express version does not support Windows Embedded Compact development.  Visual Studio Professional and better was needed in order to support Windows Embedded Compact development.

Here comes the great news!

In October 2013, Microsoft released Visual Studio 2013 (VS 2013) community edition, available at no cost. VS 2013 community edition supports Compact 2013 application and OS design development.  You can find more information about VS 2013 community edition via the following URL:

For this Compact 2013 getting started series, VS 2013 community edition is used as the primary development tool, covering the following subjects:

  • Develop custom OS design & deploy OS runtime to target device

  • Managed and native code application

  • Connectivity to target device, remote tools and OS debugging

  • Connectivity to target device and application debugging

  • Working with SQLite and Windows Azure database

    This is part of a work-in-progress project for me to learn and keep up with the changing environment.  The 86Duino platform, with its compatible interface to large pool of Arduino shields, will be helpful to make the process a bit more interesting.

    I created the following Codeplex project where I post the BSP, SDK, utilities and code samples as I progress:

About Windows Embedded Compact 2013

With the initial release in 1996, this family of embedded OS has been around for almost 2 decade.  It’s a matured OS platform with an efficient and developer friendly development IDE.  For more information, visit the following URL for more information:


About 86Duino EduCake

86Duino is a low-cost Arduino compatible platform built with the Vortex86EX System-on-Chip, based on x86 processor architecture.  The EduCake is an 86Duino board packaged in a metallic enclosure, which expose the board’s I/O pins through the integrated solder-less breadboard, make it a lot easier to experiment different electronic circuitry.  Built on the x86 processor architecture, the 86Duino EduCake is able to support common PC OS, including DOS, Linux, Windows XP, Windows Embedded CE 6.0, Compact 7 and Compact 2013.  For more information, visit the following URL: