Windows CE 7 on BeagleBone Black


Yes, it is an outdated operating system and Yes, you better pick an embedded linux over this one if you can but Windows CE 7 is still out there, probably running behind the interface of the multimedia player in your car, in the background of your GPS or inside several products with a touchscreen. Of course, it is in its last hours, replaced first with Windows CE 2013 and more recently with the Windows IoT but still, when you consider that a product has a 10 years lifetime, it is not surprising to deal with it in 2017.

Last year, my company wanted to start a new generation of products with a new mainboard, a new design, a capacitive touchscreen (and many other stuff) which had to be faster than the former platform (WCE6/ARM Cortex A5/300Mhz/256 Mb of Ram). To give you an idea, the user interface was very slow and the products needed a few minutes to boot. Plus, they wanted something that does not cost much, referring to a Raspberry Pi which is a very cheap yet impressive development board. We couldn't use it because it is not intended for an industrial use (not the same temperature specs, you're screwed if the design has a flaw, not guaranteed to be produced for another 10 years....) so I looked elsewhere. After studying a dozen of development platforms, I finally found that the BeagleBone Black has a cousin named BeagleCore which has been designed for the industry. For 50 USD you have the same design as the BBB (ARM Cortex A9/1Ghz/512Mb RAM) and it can run both linux and Windows CE. Bingo, that's the board we picked.

Now, why Windows CE 7 ? Because my company wanted to run old .NET softwares with this new board  to modernise existing products. That's what forced my hand to go for WCE7. My stubbornness with linux made me do some tests with Mono (Xamarin) first but the results were not satisfying to continue that way.

Below are my notes about the integration of Windows CE 7 to my BeagleCore. Most of my work have been based on the community bsp available here.
If you are interested in the updated bsp, you can check it out here.

General Information

Developer area

Others

Credits

Some of the content hosted on this wiki comes from the following books
  • Pro Windows Embedded Compact 7, by Abraham Kcholi.
  • Professional Windows Embedded Compact 7, by Samuel Phung, David Jones, Thierry Joubert

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