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Silverlight for Windows Embedded CE Is Not True Silverlight

by Abel Avram on Oct 08, 2009 |

With the RTM of Windows Embedded CE 6.0 R3, Microsoft has included a version of Silverlight targeted at embedded devices. There are major differences between Silverlight on the desktop and “Silverlight for Windows Embedded" (Silverlight for WE).

Silverlight for WE is a native code UI framework written in C++ that “enables a new designer/developer paradigm that will dramatically improve the user interface on devices.” The framework will be available on all handheld devices and gadgets running WE CE 6.0 R3 which in turn supports touch and gesture features like those coming in Windows 7.

The Platform Builder for WE CE 6.0 R3 is based on Visual Studio and can be used to port the Silverlight for WE CE 6.0 R3 applications to other Windows Embedded versions. Expression Blend can also be used to develop such applications. It is not clear if there is an option to port desktop Silverlight applications to WE, but most likely the answer is “No”.

Jochen Dieckfoß, a Windows CE developer, has noticed a number of features which make Silverlight for WE different from the standard Silverlight:

  • The first noticeable difference is the name; on Windows Embedded CE 6.0 R3 it is called “Silverlight for Windows Embedded” whereas on the desktop it is just called Silverlight.
  • Silverlight for Windows Embedded is used to develop user interfaces (UI) for shells and applications running on a Windows Embedded CE 6.0 R3 device, whereas Silverlight is used to develop interactive applications for the web running in a web browser.
  • Silverlight for Windows Embedded hosts the object tree(an entity that represents a Silverlight 2 XAML element tree (=visual tree)) in a visual host that has an underlying Win32 window, whereas Silverlight hosts the object tree in a plug-in for an internet browser window.
  • Silverlight for Windows Embedded supports native C++ only, while Silverlight is based on the .NET Framework and uses managed code written in Visual C# .NET, Visual Basic, IronPython and JavaScript.
  • The Silverlight for Windows Embedded API set is a completely new API set, separate from the Silverlight APIs, although much of the Silverlight 2 functionality is mirrored in Silverlight for Windows Embedded. NOTE: Silverlight 3 functionality is not yet supported in Silverlight for Windows Embedded.
  • Silverlight for Windows Embedded does NOT support Hyperlink controls or Databinding.

The differences between the two versions of Silverlight are major. More than that, the standard Silverlight cannot be installed on Windows Embedded. It looks like Silverlight for WE is just a UI framework allowing applications to look nicer on Win embedded devices, and promises a good separation between UI design and code development.

Trial versions of the software can be downloaded from Windows Embedded Download Center.

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Biggest difference... by Jim Leonardo

I opened the article expecting to see that it would say basically "it's a skinny version". Instead, it looks like it's something different entirely. I would say the biggest difference, and most critical, is the fourth bullet. It doesn't support CLR languages? Wow... I'd have loved to be a fly on the wall of the discussions of what to call it if that's the case.

Marketing dep strikes again by Francois Ward

I don't work for microsoft, but who wants to bet that the developers of this thing had something completly unrelated to Silverlight in their hands, and the marketing department forced their hand to change its name as to reuse branding recognition, while said devs begged them not to?

Probably like .NET 3.0's name (vs WinFX), Silverlight 1.0 (which wasn't even real silverlight), and so on...

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