Talisker, Microsoft's codename for the upcoming Windows CE real-time operating-system (RTOS) release, sports dozens of new features. This beta 2 release includes an emulation mode for ARM, MIPS, SHx, and x86 processors, allowing application development prior to hardware availability. The mode also lets developers evaluate Talisker now.
This RTOS appears to be following the same path as Microsoft's desktop and server systems by bundling in every conceivable feature. New features have been added across the board, from networking to smart-card security support. Many of the new technologies are based on industry standards. Others take advantage of Microsoft's proprietary technology or extensions, such as lightweight threads, NDIS 5.1, and WinSock 2 network support.
Talisker's close alignment with Microsoft's other operating systems is no accident. For example, device driver migration from Windows XP is possible at the source-code level due to similar application programming interfaces (APIs). Some tuning may be required because only Talisker supports non-x86 architectures.
The new Unified Audio Model (UAM) will eventually provide tighter ties to Windows XP. UAM uses DirectSound support, and it's complemented by an array of multimedia components, including DVD Video. Other multimedia enhancements include language support for Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. New compressed-font support reduces storage requirements for these large font files.
Network security enhancements include an SSL-enabled Web server, protected (encrypted) stores, smart-card support, 802.1x security improvements, and trusted application support. Its smart-card support uses Microsoft's Crypto API. The 802.1x security enhancements are important in light of security breaches in the current 802.1x standard. Trusted applications are digitally signed for authentication purposes.
Other network enhancements in-clude support for the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) and Voice-over-IP (VoIP). SIP can be the basis for collaboration tools. Modular XML 3 support will also find its way into collaboration applications. Minimal support only uses 50 kbytes. Full support requires 300 kbytes. And, the Beta 2 release finally adds shared Ethernet debug channel support. This will definitely streamline development of network-based appliances.
"Talisker Beta 2 continues to build on our commitment to providing the most powerful embedded operating system and tools to build the next generation of smart, connected devices," said Bill Veghte, vice president of Microsoft's Embedded and Appliance Platforms Group.
The Talisker Beta 2 emulation version is now available as a free download from Microsoft's Web site. It runs on Windows 2000 or Windows XP. A CD can be ordered for a minimal handling charge. Go to www.microsoft.com/embedded.