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By Chris De Herrera 
Copyright 1998-2007
 All Rights Reserved
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Windows CE USB Information
By Chris De Herrera, Copyright 1998, 2000    

 Version 1.02  Revised 10/9/2000

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USB is short for Universal Serial Bus.  It is a 12 megabit per second communications link for peripherals that supports plug and play. Starting with Windows CE 2.11 USB support was added. It includes the drivers to enable Windows CE to recognize USB devices (the host controller and root hub).  There is only one driver provided with each Handheld PC, Professional Edition - a sample mouse driver.  If a user purchases another USB peripheral, they must make sure that they have a Windows CE driver.  You can not use a Windows 95/98/2000 driver on a Windows CE system.

The Pocket PC and the H/PC 2000 also supports USB but in a different way.  USB is used in the Pocket PC and H/PC 2000 to provide easier synchronization.  That means USB on the Pocket PC and H/PC 2000 allows the Pocket PC and H/PC 2000 to be a peripheral to a PC.  The Pocket PCs do not support using the USB port to attach other peripherals.

USB is designed so that some ports are designated for hosts while others are for peripherals.  You can't change a port from being used for a peripheral to using it as a host.

Supported Desktop Operating Systems

Microsoft offers USB plug and play support with Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows ME, and Windows 2000.  Microsoft chose not to support USB synchronization in Windows 95.  Also, Microsoft does not offer USB support with Windows NT.  Blue Water Systems offers their own USB for Windows NT that allows you to synchronize with your Pocket PC.  In order to sync using USB and your Pocket PC, you will need to install ActiveSync 3.1 which is included.

If any OEMs or peripheral manufacters are reading this, they should consider adding standard drivers for keyboards, parallel ports and serial ports/modems.   These are the most common peripherals and most manufacturers are not creating drivers for them - Windows 98 has default drivers for these.

USB will have to wait for drivers to appear before it will become significantly useful for connectivity and peripherals for Windows CE.

Other Links


Microsoft USB Technical Whitepaper

Interview with Harel Kodesh and Randy Kath regarding the H/PC Pro - Includes some commentary about USB

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