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Momentum Builds for Windows CE in Manufacturing as Multiple Corporate Vendors Demonstrate End-to-End Process-Control System

Industry Leaders Endorse Microsoft's Efforts at Embedded Systems East Show

CHICAGO - March 2, 1999 - Microsoft Corp. today demonstrated continued momentum for the Microsoft Windows CE operating system in process-control applications with a real-world demonstration of more than 10 commercial Windows CE-based control products, in conjunction with more than a dozen corporate associates, including The Boeing Company, General Motors Corp. and Philip Morris Companies Inc. This system, shown here at the Embedded Systems Conference, showcases the small footprint, connectivity and open platform features of Windows CE - requirements for the next generation of embedded systems on the factory floor.

"Historically, industrial automation and enterprise application users have developed solutions based on proprietary systems that were difficult to connect to the other parts of corporate networks and information technology," said Jerry Yen, manager for advanced controls, GM Powertrain, and chairman of OMAC. "Microsoft's accomplishments in the manufacturing market support the Open Modular Architecture Controller [OMAC] consortium's goal of establishing standardized solutions for the manufacturing community."

Windows CE on the Factory Floor

Windows CE, along with the Windows NT operating system, acts as common "plumbing" in disparate manufacturing software applications, enabling them to integrate and operate seamlessly. The result is a more efficient exchange of information from the shop floor to enterprise resource planning (ERP) processes, reducing the operational and technical costs for a manufacturing enterprise.

"Windows CE is a complementary platform that is easily integrated with Windows NT-based control and automation software," said Bill Thompson, senior analyst at ARC Advisory Group. "Vertical integration among different enterprise application levels is critical, and Windows CE is positioned nicely to offer not only vertical integration but best-in-class control modules and third-party applications."

End-to-End Solution for the Enterprise

Windows CE provides end users with a more affordable solution and simplified interoperability, which allows two-way communication between the collection points on the factory floor and the manufacturing resource planning (MRP) and ERP servers that are used to run the enterprise. "Now suppliers and users can fully utilize the talent of their programmers for Windows across a spectrum of applications that range from controls to server applications," said Cary Longest, associate principal engineer, Philip Morris. "Because Windows CE is an open system that includes rich system services, standard Win32 APIs, and access to a wealth of off-the-shelf software applications, hardware and device drivers, end users can do more with their solutions. Finally we have the openness we've been looking for."

To further increase productivity and shorten time-to-market, the same award-winning Visual Studio development system-based tools are used for the programming efforts for both Windows NT and Windows CE. Languages such as C, C++, the Visual Basic development system and the Java language are all supported for Windows CE today, as well as powerful frameworks such as Microsoft Foundation Classes (MFCs), Active Template Library (ATL) and Microsoft Component Object Model (COM).

Technologies Showcased in Demonstration

Industry leaders and OMAC participants assisted in identifying the key areas of control technologies required in manufacturing operations. The integrated control demonstration features the following technologies:

Participant Summaries

Advanced Technology and Research Corp. Windows CE-based control of a three-axis milling machine
BlueWater Systems Inc. Tools that make it easy to support new devices with Windows CE, and a robotic vision system that can see parts on the manufacturing production line
DynaPro Systems Inc. A computer running Windows CE, which is used to display and control machinery on the factory floor
GE Total Control
  • ICONICS Inc.
  • Odyssey Software Development
  • Taylor Software Solutions
  • FactorySoft Inc.
Software applications designed for Windows CE, which are used to control machinery, display information about the work to be done (or is being done), store production data in real-time, and analyze that information
Intellution Inc. Distributed control of the manufacturing production line with Windows CE-based hardware and software
Intrinsyc Software Inc. Powerful software that goes beyond the basic TCP/IP capabilities to facilitate communication between software agents in a distributed control application
Rockwell Software Inc. Windows CE-based Handheld PC used to diagnose factory floor controllers
Siemens Energy & Automation Inc. Windows CE-based operator panel, and a Windows CE-based factory floor controller
Think & Do Software Inc. Factory floor controller based on Windows CE
VenturCom Inc. Communications software to reduce time-to-market for Windows CE- and Windows NT-based controllers on the factory floor
Wonderware Corp. Windows CE-based software to design, create, test and run application programs for controlling manufacturing processes

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