back to article Microsoft unveils – wait for it – another mobile OS

Microsoft has added yet another mobile operating system to its OS smörgåsbord: Windows Embedded Handheld, to be released sometime in the next six months. Designed for what Redmond defines as the "enterprise handheld device market", Windows Embedded Handheld — which, for convenience, we'll shorten to WiEmHa, pronounced "weem- …


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  1. Goat Jam

    A true visionary

    "The last time I checked you don't need two client operating systems."

    Steve "Monkey Boy" Ballmer

    July 2009

  2. Anonymous Coward


    Please first fix your Silverlight Plugin. It is slow as a dog. Thanks.

  3. Big-nosed Pengie
    Gates Horns

    The dead cat

    smells worse than ever.

  4. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Silverlight? Really?

    Are you kidding me? Though I am impressed to see a Microsoft website say the "L" word and know enough to redirect me to some "moonlight" shit. It still has about as much chance of getting on my PC as Flash does on Jobs' personal iPhone. I already got one crap video plugin on this box, I don't need another.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Silverlight rocks

      Cut your own nose off if you wish...

      1. Cameron Colley

        RE: Silverlight rocks

        Does it? I doubt it.

        Flash is bad enough but some of us don't want Microsoft's dodgy "intellectual property" running on hardware we own.

    2. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      Just wait...

      Just wait... Silverlight will soon be "required" for windows updates, msdn access, hotmail or cunningly mingled (mangled) into office so office won't quite work correctly without it...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        That's fine.

        OpenOffice will work just fine without it.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    If at first it you don't succeed try again... and again and again and again and again.

    1. hyartep

      microsoft strategy

      it was always microsofts strentgh, that it was able to "outresource" competition. first version was usually disaster, second was usable and third was success (marketing, not technical).

      it was the same with mobile os. they were able to "destroy" Palm.

      However, competitors and market changed too quickly for them to accomodate. Windows7 for phones is something like version2 in their new mobile strategy.

      The difference, right now, is that Apple and Google have enough resources to fight.

      (I'm not sure about Nokia/Symbian, they have to start to deliver. Change from "old" S60 to fully competitive Symbian^4 is taking too long. The same with Maemo (2,3,4,5), Meego (1, ?).)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Succeed again?

      Windows Mobile 5 was a *massive* success in the enterprise area and the only potential competitor in this area is Android. WP7 is clearly not suitable for the enterprise because its target is the iPhone market (and the iPhone isn't suitable for enterprise either).

      1. Daniel B.

        RE: Succeed again?

        I think you're forgetting BlackBerry OS. It isn't only massively successful, it is leading the enterprise market. Their decision to go down the Phone 7 "iPhone wannabe" market may have boosted the BlackBerryOS market even more; by the time they come up with the enterprisey flavor, it might be too late.

  6. mark adrian bell
    Gates Halo

    no one ever got fired

    Scoff if you want at the un-coolness of these Steve Balmer efforts when compared to Apple and their shiny iOS, but at Walmart and the other kinds of companies that he wants to sell to, no one ever got fired for buying Microsoft.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Until a certain point in time...

      no-one ever got fired for buying Ashton-Tate either.

  7. Anonymous Coward


    if you throw enough shit at a wall, some of it is bound to stick, eventually...

  8. Monty Burns

    cant believe you said this:

    "Contrast, if you will, Redmond's shotgun-spray approach to the handheld market to Apple's single-shot rifle: Cupertino offers but one operating system, iOS (née iPhone OS), for the iPhone, the iPod touch, and the iPad"

    Totaly diferent market to what win 6.1/6.5 are used for on handheld devices (note, NOT phones). For example, many airports use Ultra BRS which run rugged handheld barcode scanners using windows 6.1 to load bags into ULD's (the silver containers). Can you see an Apple device do that? ULTRA are not the only company to use these scanners, Royal Mail do as well for example... again... running 6.1 .... again, not a "phone" in sight on these devices! There are many, many other users.... Winmob 6.x wasn't just a phone O/S you know ;) (well ok it was but it was so versatile....)

    Totaly, totaly diferent market - unless Apple would like to start producing new rugged devices!?

    And some other posters, seriously? Silverlight? This article isn't about silverlight!

    1. amehaye

      That explains some things

      They could all use plain old Linux for these handheld devices, and get much better stability for free.

    2. icanonlyimagine

      Well maybe not

      `you mean like this one:

      amongst quite a few solutions in different areas using either the iPhone, iPodTouch and lately the iPad

  9. Philippe

    Want a job for life?

    Come and work for Microsoft Marketing department.

    All you have to do is come up with one new operating system name per quarter.

    it doesn't matter if it's daft, doesn't mean anything, or that nobody cares any longer, as long as you keep adding to the list...

  10. Kevin Johnston

    Badly named

    Should be called Microsoft embedded Handheld.

    or meh!

  11. Happy Camper

    Meego waiting in the wings....

    Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

    The only people more out of touch when it comes to competing in the mobile market that Steve Ballmer is Nokia's open source director.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    You know what's really sad...

    Actually there are two really sad things here:

    1) This should be a Psion-led market, hardware and software

    2) Part of the reason it isn't Psion's is Windows HandheldPC, the WinCE based OS from around ten years ago, as seen on things like the HP's ARM-based Jornada 720 family (Psion-size hardware, with very limited OS/apps, and unimpressive battery life, but often more usable for this kind of thing than PocketPCs ever were).

    Then MS totally abandoned WinHPC and the J720-style products were no more - no products to buy, and no updates to the MS OS or MS apps. Thanks Bill, you're an expert in investment protection. Your investment, not mine.

    But now MS want customers like these back, presumably before someone spots the potential of ARM/Android or similar non-Wintel combinatiions.

    Well Mr Ballmer, the customers who remember being abandoned a few years years ago have a short message for you. The 2nd and third words are "right off". The first one is NSFW.

    And there is a slightly longer message for any potential customer who might feel willing to invest enterprise-class amounts of time and money in this new launch: "Find someone who spent time and money on Handheld PCs for business apps, and ask them whether they'd recommend being MS-dependent for anything in this sector. Or more recently find someone who's tried being MS-dependent for PocketPC technology".

    Have a nice weekend.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      IMO there's only one reason it isn't a Psion-led market.


      The Psion devices were way superior to anything else around at the time, especially the Palm which ended up dominating the market, because it was perceived as a professional business device, whereas Psion never knew how to get away from their geek toy image - I can remember seeing a sign in a computer shop at the time saying 'Games And Psion'. (cf. 'Puppet Show and Spinal Tap'.)

    2. Daniel B.

      I had a Jornada.

      I got it second-hand when I was working for a state government. The damn thing was really useful... but MS decided to kill Windows CE in favor of the Windows Mobile OS. It also did no good that HP ditched the Jornada itself, and went for the horrible iPAQ.

      The Psion devices are something I envy you guys ... none of them reached Mexico. :(

  13. Helena Handcart

    Forrest Ballmer

    Having never heard Steve talk before, is it me or does he sound like Forrest Gump?

    Microsoft is like a box of chocolates, you never know what OS you're gonna get. (And there seems to be a large number of coffee creams)

  14. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Thank God ridicule does not kill

    So Ballmer, going for another failure ?

    'Cause that's what you're going to get.

  15. Charlie Clark Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    False positives

    If WinMeHa is based on Windows Mobile then it's based on Windows CE. That means there's:

    Windows CE and derivatives

    Windows NT and derivatives - Windows 7

    Windows Phone 7 - which in turn is based on the .NET framework of the NT line

    Given the scope that seems reasonable to me although getting onto the same underlying framework (.NET) for all has to be a common goal. The comparison with Apple is a strawman - Apple notoriously doesn't license it's "revolutionary" and "magical" mojo so it doesn't have to satisfy as many customers - can you get it to run on some of the very lower power hardware common in the embedded market? The linux-based stuff is probably more of a worry but .NET based clients might be very appealing in vertical markets - clients can be tightly coupled with inventory systems, et al.

    I'm not an MS apologist but MS is simply going through the pains of platform transition (remember Mac OS "classic?", yellow box, blue box, etc?) Getting a good OS for the non-Intel platforms is certainly a challenge but MS still has lots of appeal to the corporates wanting to integrate their systems.

  16. vordan

    But, wait

    Many "enterprise hand-held devices" have additional hardware -- bar code readers, RF-ID sensors, etc. -- and they need specific drivers, data ports etc.

    Also, some businesses need to connect to various legacy back-end systems with different terminal emulators and protocols.

    I doubt that iOS can handle these.

    1. GrantB
      Jobs Halo

      to quote

      "there is an app for that"

      While there will be some 3rd party hardware that won't connect to Apple mobile devices,my experience of Win CE development is that you have to test individual models of hardware to confirm that odd-ball peripherals work with your vertical market apps anyway. Your mileage may vary.

      It has not surprised me the to recently see iOS devices appearing more in niche markets; I have know of iPhones being used in an operating theatre. People are carrying them anyway, and finding that there are apps for everything, even in obscure vertical markets. Links to old protocols and back-end systems can be found or dealt with by back-end web-services.

      I was part of one medical project that I am sure would have used a ruggedised Win CE device in the past, but after analysis, the decision was made to use iPod Touch's. The price per unit (even including a protective cases), was such that you could lose a few & it still worked out much cheaper. It made deployment and end-user satisfaction so much easier.

      Next time you have to sign a Fedex unit - think how much small, cheaper a iPod touch would be; and an iPhone or iPad unit could do so much more like record voice, video, send GPS co-ords for live tracking etc. Don't write off the iOS as just consumer level device; it already dominates the MP3 player and other markets, and my experience is that it is killing Sony and Nintendo in the portable gaming niche

  17. Ru

    "Cupertino offers but one operating system, iOS"

    Where's the roadmap for putting iOS onto the sorts of PDAs you might find in stock and order tracking systems in supermarkets, warehouses, couriers, restaurants, whatever? There isn't one? MS seem to have a pretty hefty market share there. How about on cash machines, checkouts, kiosks? Oh, looks like MS have that sewn up too.

    They're selling into much more diverse markets, but quite why they'd need anything other than a new WinCE (for ARM platforms, maybe with phone specific extensions) and a new WinXP Embedded (for x86 platforms) is slightly beyond me.

    Quite why Ballmer is still there is similarly beyond me.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      "Where's the roadmap for putting iOS onto the sorts of PDAs you might find in stock and order tracking systems in supermarkets, warehouses, couriers, restaurants, whatever?"

      There's one very good reason. Apple is a hardware company - the software they build is to make the hardware worth more than a door stop. If Apple were to get into that market it wouldn't be through licensing their OS onto any hardware, it'd be building the hardware and worrying about which OS to put (or build new) on it.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Weemha? Nothing to see here.

    If the reporter had spent less time honing their sarcasm and more time researching the story, they would have seen that it's not a new OS at all, it's just a new build of Windows Mobile 6.5 (6.5.3 to be precise) with a fancy new name. Microsoft have a track record of constantly changing the names of things in the mobile space, and all they've done here is to change the name of Windows Mobile 6.5 to something with "Enterprise" in it to differentiate it from the consumer offering, Windows Phone, and to give some comfort to us poor s*ds in the mobile computing industry who were worried about having the rug pulled from under us when Windows Phone was announced.

  19. Dirk Vandenheuvel
    IT Angle


    As far as I know Apple doesn't have barcode scanner or imagers? This is an OS for that (rather big) market. Windows CE/WM has a rather big part of the slice in that market TBH.

  20. Anonymous Coward

    I suggest an alternate abbreviation

    WinEmHa, pronounced kind of like "enema."

  21. robin penny

    Windows Mobile reincarnated

    So Windows Mobile is being reincarnated under a new name, while Windows Phone is being marketed as the latest version of the Windows Mobile line. Marketing gone mad.

    Not surprising they still need Windows Mobile" as "Windows Phone" is aimed at consumers, not the hand held type device that you see Ticket Inspectors and Store Employees using. Those devices will need updating/replacing at some point as they wear out.

    Are you suggesting that the current iPhone O/S could also be used in this space as a replacement?

  22. Jamie Kitson


    The Silverlight plugin has crashed.

  23. The First Dave


    "why quote Redmond Steve when you can watch him ... (Silverlight required.)"

    I think you may have answered your own question there.

  24. Eponymous Cowherd

    Why does Ballmer....

    remind me so much of John Prescott?

  25. gimbal

    Give the pig a new skirt

    ...and it's still a pig.

    Marketing, indeed. I'm afraid that's what Microsoft is really best at.

    1. Giles Jones Gold badge


      You think?

      I think they're the Ronseal of the IT world (does what it says on the tin). Their branding is just writing out what it does.

      Windows Mobile

      Windows Server

      Internet Explorer

      There's a few exceptions of course XBox, Zune etc.

  26. Eddie Johnson

    This Is Why I Will Never Port To Win CE

    I've had handheld apps that I've vaguely wanted to port to WinCE for 5-10 years now but I refuse to because it will take a while and the whole CE arena is too much a moving target. About the time I get it up on one platform, MS will be abandoning it for the Next New Big Thing. Gotta love their trend driven game plan. Wind from the east, focus on phones, wind from the north, time to build a tablet. I definitely would say Apple has it right. I've always seen a decently built Netbook that would allow me to target a full Windows (XP or lessor of course) as the best solution. We have some Panasonic Toughbook tablets running the tablet version of Windows and they aren't bad but a little big for the application in mind. The devices we have running CE are mostly built on FAIL.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Not sure what your app is

      but most of my older WM5 apps still work on WM6. Actually, a good number of the WM2003 apps work on WM6. WinMo is based on CE, as I'm sure you know.

      So yeah, it's a moving target. But it's a very wide bullseye on that target.

  27. Eddy Ito

    Let me get this straight

    So now they are doing to mobile what they did to the desktop? Does this mean that WinEmHa is like Win 7 Starter, Win CE 6 is Win 7 Home and Windows Phone 7 is analogous to Win 7 Ultimate... So what is Windows Mobile then? Are they deliberately trying to confuse the shit out of everyone? Can we dial it back to two versions per platform, one GUI, the other headless and let people add the shit they want? Hell, it seems MS has more OS SKUs than GM has car models across all brands.

  28. Anonymous Coward

    VMS had hefty market share once too.

    "MS seem to have a pretty hefty market share ... on enterprise PDAs checkouts etc

    They're selling into much more diverse markets, but quite why they'd need anything other than a new WinCE (for ARM platforms, maybe with phone specific extensions) and a new WinXP Embedded (for x86 platforms) is slightly beyond me."

    (quoted/paraphrased because the stupid Register BBS doesn't exactly make it easy to follow long threads if you're replying to an old post)

    The opposition isn't iOS. And today's market share doesn't necessarily guarantee tomorrow's future.

    The IT departments don't really care whether their barcode controllers etc run Windows or Linux as long as they can integrate with other important business systems and are not a nightmare to manage. Linux can, and will.

    The IT departments don't really care whether their checkouts run Windows or Linux as long as they can integrate with other important business systems and are not a nightmare to manage. Linux does integrate, and isn't a nightmare to manage.

    So what? Well the so what is that these markets are dominated by a handful of companies. These companies' names may not be well known outside their respective markets, but as and when each one decides to offer a better performing lower cost alternative to Windows, it'll hurt in Redmond, and Redmond may well fight back like crazy. And that'll work, for a while, because Redmond have got loads of cash to burn.

    But their cash won't last forever. Unlike Linux.

    I mean if you're a cash register vendor or whatever, why should your choice of OS be decided by what MS think you should be able to buy? If Win2K is still what you want, why can't you still buy it?

    How do you fix that problem with Linux? There's nothing to fix, if you want to ship RedHat 4 or Suse 8 or some equally ancient Linux of your choice you still can. And if you want to update a few selected bits and leave the rest alone, you can, because you get the source (and if you don't have the Linux internals skills in house, plenty other folks do)!

    Have a nice weekend.

  29. Robert E A Harvey


    Look, Redmond, just FOAD, OK?

  30. Giles Jones Gold badge

    They're rebadged it you fool

    "I'm not driving a Mini Metro"

    "No Alan, it's called a Rover 100 now"

    Sounds like WinCE has been rebadged.

  31. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

    Motorola marketing bollocks

    Following the link to the Motorola EDA page, I'm met with this piece of spectacularly reprehensible marketing drivel:

    "The ES400 Enterprise Digital Assistant’s integrated voice and data capabilities unleashes the full potential of mobile professionals by empowering them with the information and interaction they need to transform operations, increase enterprise profitability and complete their jobs anywhere, anytime."

    Please, I've just eaten.

    1. Eddie Johnson

      Marketing 101 Checklist

      Enterprise - Check

      integrated - Check

      potential - Check

      empowering - Check

      transform - Check

      and lastly....

      profitability - Check

      Congratulations Johnny, you get an A in MarketSpeak.

  32. Badwolf


    I'm still laughing at Microsoft embedded Handheld - Genius!!!

    Register that domain name now!

    this forum needs a monkey boy icon

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why didn't Linux take the handheld market yet?

    I read post telling Linux will take the handheld market, but the question is why it didn't yet. It's not a new OS, it's been around for years but the handheld market is still Microsoft's. Why?

    I guess the availability of development tools to rapidly build very vertical applications, often custom made, is the reason. Linux still lacks that kind of tools.

    Apple - and Blackberry - will never be interested in such a market, they have to "shine" as the "successful user" device, not the humble warehouse worker or courier lorry driver.

    Android could challenge Windows in that area, especially because it has better development tools.

  34. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    moving to winmo 7?

    @eddie johnson, spot on. @everyone else, how'd you miss the elephant in the room? Relabelling winmo is no big problem. However, why would anyone develop for winehma now, when ballmer promises it'll be moved from winmo 6.5.3 to windows mobile 7 shortly, and 7 is incompatible with 6.5?

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