Device manufacturers and service providers face several challenges when designing and deploying gateway devices, from selecting the most suitable hardware platform, to identifying the features that users want, and determining the appropriate software platform for those features. As gateways become more versatile with advanced features sets for protecting, storing, routing, and accessing audio, video and data files, device manufacturers face three primary challenges:
Using a comprehensive and robust set of network protocols. Gateway platforms often lack support for networking protocols that adhere to industry standards—preventing device manufacturers, equipment providers, and distributors from rapidly adapting to changing industry trends by developing new gateways or adding feature sets that meet changing user demands.
Providing extensive security and management capabilities. Many gateways lack the capability to integrate with existing IT infrastructures or provide reliable local and remote access to data, applications, and services over a network—preventing users from more securely sharing, storing, and accessing information or capitalizing on existing IT investments.
Creating a compelling user experience. Today, many gateways lack easy-to-use interfaces that can provide intuitive access to installation, management, and networking features—preventing users from quickly and easily connecting their digital devices to each other and to other networks.
The Microsoft Solution: Windows CE 5.0
Windows CE 5.0 combines an advanced, real-time embedded operating system with the most powerful tools for rapidly creating, deploying, and managing smart, connected, and small-footprint network devices. The latest version of Microsoft’s componentized operating system provides functionality to build a broad range of network gateway devices with intuitive user interfaces, robust administration and security features, and comprehensive networking capability.
The network gateway solution of Windows CE 5.0 enables OEMs and developers to develop a broad variety of customized gateways. The gateway solution includes the following key features:
A comprehensive set of networking protocols and features, helping device manufacturers and service providers to rapidly and effectively build and deploy devices with standard wired/wireless network and communication functionality. Newly added features, such as USB Flash Config and Native 802.11, complement the existing set of protocols and features, which include Dynamic Host Control Protocol (DHCP), Network Address Translation (NAT), Ethernet, Bluetooth, Firewall, and Universal Plug and Play (UPnP).
Robust security features and easy-to-use remote administration tools, enabling efficient integration with enterprise and service operator infrastructures. These include a broad range of widely used protocols and management features such as Kerberos/NTLM authentication, VPN support including IP Security Protocol (IPSec)-based Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP), Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6), Firewall, Systems Management Server (SMS) 2003 device management client software, and support for file and print sharing features. Device manufacturers, service providers and enterprises can flexibly use Windows CE 5.0 components to customize network gateways and better support the broad range of technical and end-user requirements for advanced gateway devices.
A production quality, easy-to-use, reference gateway user interface (RGUI)for end users, designed to assist device manufacturers, service providers and enterprises in better understanding and implementing customized end-user interfaces that offer user-friendly settings and configuration options.
Network gateways built on Windows CE 5.0 can provide seamless integration with Windows-based client and server systems such as Windows XP desktops and Windows Server™ environments. Core technologies, including Network Driver Interface Specification (NDIS) 5.1, Winsock 2.0, IPv6, and UPnP enable instant interoperability between Windows CE–based network gateways and personal computers, servers, and Web services, making it easy for end users to install and manage a Windows CE–based gateway and devices connected to it.
The footprint size of a gateway depends on the Windows CE components included in the device. The default gateway configuration in Platform Builder, the Microsoft drag-and-drop toolkit to develop Windows CE devices, is approximately 950 KB and can be modified depending on component selection. Advanced power management enables faster gateway performance, while improved memory management provides considerable ROM-size savings, ensuring memory management optimization so applications can run efficiently and seamlessly.
Windows CE is an advanced, real-time operating system (RTOS) for embedded devices. With 256 priority levels and nested interrupt support, Windows CE 5.0 meets demanding, deterministic performance requirements and uses hard real-time response requirements, as well as ultra-low bounded Interrupt Service Routine (ISR) and Interrupt Service Thread (IST) latency. Gateway-specific features, flexible choice of components, and the proven real-time platform provided by Windows CE 5.0 enable device manufacturers, service providers, and enterprises to efficiently address the challenges they face in delivering, deploying, and maintaining smart gateway devices to market. In addition, Windows CE–based devices can be quickly adapted in response to changing end-user demands, so that you can provide new services or update existing ones, and therefore increase worker productivity and generate new revenue streams.
Windows CE 5.0 Network Gateway Platform Overview
This section provides an overview of the Windows CE-based architecture for gateways and its various components. Windows CE runs on various hardware platforms optimized for network gateways. Broad support for common hardware solutions means that device manufacturers and network operators can choose preferred hardware on which to implement a customized gateway device configuration. A broad range of data and network protocols provide data exchange and network security for devices connected to the gateway. A production-quality, pluggable browser-based reference gateway user interface (RGUI) enables users to easily set up and configure the gateway device, including LAN preference settings, parental control configurations, and gateway status options.
Figure 4. Windows CE 5.0 Network Gateway Communications Architecture