Back in the day when palmtops were up and coming, Microsoft trimmed down Windows into Windows CE (CE = Compact Edition). The first version, nicknamed “Pegasus” featured a windows-like GUI and a number of microsoft’s popular applications, all trimmed down for smaller storage, memory and speed of the palmtops of the day.
Since then, Windows CE has evolved into – according to Microsoft’s docs – a component-based, embedded, real-time operating system. It’s no longer only targetted at hand-held computers. Many platforms have been based on the core Windows CE operating system, including Microsoft’s Handheld PC, Pocket PC, Pocket PC 2002 and Smartphone 2002.
It’s often – incorrectly – stated that Windows CE 3.0 and Pocket PC are the same thing, or that Pocket PC is the successor to Windows CE 3.0. This isn’t true. Windows CE 3.0 is a selection of operating system components, some of which provide subsets of other components’ features (e.g. varying levels of windowing support; DCOM vs COM), others which are mutually exclusive (bitmapped or TrueType font support) and others which add additional features to another component. You can buy a kit (the Platform Builder) which contains all these components and the tools with which to develop a custom platform. The applications like Pocket Word etc. are not part of this kit.
Pocket PC is a Microsoft-defined custom platform for general PDA use, and consists of a Microsoft-defined set of minimum profiles (Professional Edition, Premium Edition) of software and hardware that is supported. The rules for manufacturing a Pocket PC device are stricter than those for producing your own Windows CE-based platform.
The major contender of the day was PalmOS, featured on an incompatible platform.
TakeDown.NET -> “WindowsCE”