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Nvidia Lauds Windows CE Over Android For Smartbooks 263

Posted by timothy
from the this-is-2009-ce-after-all dept.
ericatcw writes "Google's Android may enjoy the hype, but an increasing number of key industry players say the mobile OS isn't ready for ARM netbooks, aka smartbooks. Nvidia is the most recent to declare Android unfit for duty, stating its preference for Microsoft's Windows CE, which an Nvidia exec praised for having a "low footprint" and being "rock solid." Nvidia is busy optimizing its multimedia-savvy Tegra system-on-chip for Windows CE. Such improvements won't arrive for at least a year to Android, which has an inflexible UI and poor graphics support for devices larger than a smartphone, says Nvidia. Other firms echoing similar criticism include ARM and Asustek."
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Nvidia Lauds Windows CE Over Android For Smartbooks

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  • So... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Thursday June 18, 2009 @03:12PM (#28378497) Homepage

    So you're saying software designed for mobile phones doesn't work as well on a little computer like device [wikipedia.org] as software which was designed for little computer like devices [pdagold.com]?

    Wow. Amazing. Incredible.

    And they're the same age too!

    No, wait, Windows CE is 13 years old. It's had a little more time to design the window manager for different screen sizes.

    • Re:So... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by nicolas.kassis (875270) on Thursday June 18, 2009 @03:16PM (#28378607)
      Let's not forget that it still sucks and I hoped they would see that and go "Geez, maybe we can help this new guy out so that maybe they will get us out of this lame ass no one wants these things because windows CE sucks issue"
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by the_womble (580291)

        Well the ARM quote, if you RTFA, is:

        I do think that there is more work that can and will be done to bring the things we love about Android into form factors [such as netbooks]

        She also mentions Moblin as a possible alternative.

        I cannot actually see what is so good about Android. Why not Maemo, or the mobile optimised versions of distros such as Ubuntu. It is going to take Android a long time to catch up with the range of software available for real Linux.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by hey! (33014)

        I'm not sure that Windows CE does suck.

        It's important to remember that Windows CE is like J2ME, except that it is a family of operating systems instead of a family of platforms. It has various manifestations and configurations, the familiar PDA or smartphone versions are just instances of this. I have issues with Windows Mobile, which lacks certain features it ought to have given its ambition. I have more issues with the SmartPhone Edition, because MS and the manufacturers kiss carrier ass and so make

        • Yadda yadda... nVidia likes Windows for the same reason they like binary drivers. Their motivation has never been difficult to ascertain.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by drinkypoo (153816)

          I'm not sure that Windows CE does suck.

          No, really. It sucks.

          nothing I've seen indicates to me that the underlying platform, the actual Windows CE part of the products, sucks.

          Nothing I've seen indicates to me that there are any redeeming features of Windows CE.

          For a NetBook type device, my concern would be the configuration limitations MS would put on it to keep from cannibalizing its own Windows product line. But of course that's the kiss of death. You have to cannibalize your own product line sooner or later.

          They don't have to do that, because Windows CE is not ANY kind of competition for Windows NT. It's simply not capable of doing what NT does, which is to say, stay running while running multiple applications.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Xabraxas (654195)
          Windows Mobile certainly does suck. My girlfriend manages a small cell phone store and the don't carry a single Windows phone. They will order you one if you really want it but not before warning you how much the OS sucks. They have a service center so they deal directly with phone issues and Windows has proven to be too much of a hassle. People constantly complain that the system is slow as hell and crashes often and there is nothing the service techs can do about it because it's the shitty OS, not a p
    • Re:So... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Xocet_00 (635069) on Thursday June 18, 2009 @03:38PM (#28379047)
      "No, wait, Windows CE is 13 years old. It's had a little more time to design the window manager for different screen sizes."

      While I agree with everything you've said here, and that the age of Windows CE makes the comparative shortcomings in Android somewhat excusable, it doesn't change the fact that Windows CE seems to do what NVidia wants and Android doesn't.

      Android being new is a perfectly valid excuse, but in a here-and-now business sense Nvidia just has to go with what works... I guess.

      Writing this is hurting me. I really, really hate Windows CE (or Windows Mobile or whatever they call it these days.)
      • Re:So... (Score:5, Funny)

        by oldspewey (1303305) on Thursday June 18, 2009 @03:46PM (#28379187)

        I really, really hate Windows CE (or Windows Mobile or whatever they call it these days.)

        I'm still fond of calling it "wince"

        • Wince, hell. It's CRINGE.
        • When I was working at MS, it took me awhile to figure out some of the code. I kept seeing:
          #ifdef OS_WINCE
          and wondered "Why would the OS wince?" It took a few weeks before I realized that those parts of the code were there to replace system functions that didn't exist on Win CE (to be fair, I never actually worked with that code, so my ignorance was irrelevant).

      • They're in fact two different things.

        Windows CE is used in a lot of places.
        Windows CE is in fact rock solid, as Nvidia says.

        Android is not targeted for the same applications (as in uses, not as in programs) that Windows CE is.

        Regardless, this is all marketing. MS agrees to use Nvidia's platform in shit like the Zune HD.
        Nvidia agrees to praise Windows CE and say they're optimizing for it. Nvidia doesn't give a rat's ass what they actually use, as long as it's competent (as Windows CE and Android both are).

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by GooberToo (74388)

          And ultimately people forget that Android is really Linux + a framework. Once you understand Android = Linux + framework, its easy to see your point is 100% accurate. There is no technical merit here. It's all about cross promotion and marketing. In short, the article is nothing but a marketing fluff piece meant to convince the simple minded that Android doesn't have technical merit.

          Make no mistake about it, Microsoft is very scared of Android. Android is Google and Microsoft has been very mindful who is pu

          • As much as I hate Apple, I don't think Apple is afraid of Android. It's basically everyone vs the iPhone at this point.

            People will pay in blood and organs for Apple products, if that's the price Steve sets (and with his health issues it might not be too far off).

      • Wince 6 on my HTC phone seems to be very not-ready for consumer use. This device routinely freezes or lags by several seconds from when a button is pressed. It supports everything, including full Bluetooth support, but I can't stand waiting and waiting for my keypresses to be registered by device.

        Android may lack features, but if it responds promptly to user input, it is more mature a product than Wince 6.

        • Or maybe your device just sucks. HTC had some lag in their development (between Universal and Diamond) when they released crappy underpowered devices with premature Windows Mobile versions. That is the reason, why HTC Himalaya - their second Windows Mobile device - is capable of running Windows Mobile 6.5 and is faster at that than many of their more modern devices, although the Himalaya came out in early 2005.

          Yes, Windows Mobile reacts somewhat slow, but that is the price for real multitasking. It is also

      • The real issue .... (Score:3, Interesting)

        by taniwha (70410)

        Android doesn't use X - nVidia have drivers for X and for Windows - but not for Android - so no one's choosing nVidia hardware for Android - so nVidia's discouraging people from using Android ....

        Just wait, if they're smart a year from now they'll have Android drivers and wont have a problem with it

        • Android doesn't use X - nVidia have drivers for X and for Windows - but not for Android - so no one's choosing nVidia hardware for Android - so nVidia's discouraging people from using Android ....

          It's not a big deal to write accelerated framebuffer drivers for a firm like Nvidia. Besides, X is not an enabler in this case but a massive hurdle to anyone trying to provide advanced graphics functionality on a linux-based platform, so to Nvidia, the lack of X on Android would actually be a plus. It's not such a big deal that they would license a Microsoft platform instead of using a "free" Google platform, either way. It might have more to do with the greater integration of technology like DirectX into t

    • by Chris Burke (6130)

      I'm still just confused by the terminology. In the explosion of marketing names for things in between a phone and a laptop, I guess I missed the "smartbook". I assume that's like a netbook, only retarded? Because if there's one thing I know about computer terminology, it's that the word "Smart" always means anything but.

      • by Chyeld (713439)

        It's 'hot off the presses' new [gigaom.com], and appearently just a way of selling a particular brand of 'netbooks'.

        A bit like how nVidia 'invented' the GPU back when the GeForce first came out by coining a new name for graphics acceleration cards.

    • by qoncept (599709)
      What the hell are you trying to say here? At first it looks like your argument is that both OS's are designed for netbooks/PDAs/whatever, and that because of that, its impossible for one to be better. Just as an F-22 couldn't possibly be better at shooting down other planes than an F-16, because they were both designed to do it.

      Then it looks like you concede that "Yeah, Windows CE probably is better." But instead of just leaving it alone, you make an excuse for Android. As if the guy said "Windows CE is
    • Holy carp! That's like 91 dog years!

    • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

      No, wait, Windows CE is 13 years old. It's had a little more time to design the window manager for different screen sizes.

      And Linux is 18 years old. What's your point?

      So now the longevity of an operating system is an unfair advantage? We should give extra credit to operating systems for being new, even when they're (currently) inferior in many ways? It's not like the Android folks haven't been pushing their OS for devices up to and including netbooks.

      If you're a hardware manufacturer, your customers are

  • Corrupted opinion? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 18, 2009 @03:15PM (#28378573)

    Isn't this NVIDIA opinion somehow influenced by having Microsoft as customer for their Tegra chips going to upcoming Zune HD?

    • Of Course (Score:2, Insightful)

      by bertoelcon (1557907)
      The Zune HD that has been said to have a version of Win CE as the OS.
  • Drivers (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 18, 2009 @03:25PM (#28378819)

    From TFA:
    "The world soundly rejected the first netbooks that came out with Linux," he said. "Printers didn't work, and devices didn't get recognized. The whole thing was a mess."

    I'm sure all printers come with WinCE drivers these days. Or maybe Nvidia knows how to install Vista drivers on CE?

  • by chrb (1083577) on Thursday June 18, 2009 @03:32PM (#28378935)

    I was at a conference in 2002 where the chairman of ARM, Sir Robin Saxby, gave a keynote talk on ARM. In the Q&A session afterwards one of the attendees asked what Mr. Saxby thought of Linux - he replied that it was a toy operating system that would never amount to anything, and that open source was a useless strategy for developing software and he didn't see any place for it in the business world. The hall erupted with various PhD students and postgrads raising their hands, and after three people all said basically the same thing - that they use Linux and think open source is great - the chair had to say no more Linux questions. But after hearing what the guy at the top had to say, it would never surprise me to hear that ARM might be hostile to Linux and open source, even when it's running on their own chipsets.

    • by jedidiah (1196)

      That was a pretty rich comment given the state of Linux in 2002.

      I would expect that nvidia would have an easier time porting their driver to Linux ARM than WinCE.

    • by diegocgteleline.es (653730) on Thursday June 18, 2009 @04:02PM (#28379525)

      Well, back in 2002 he was not the only one. He has probably changed their opinion now that Linux is crucial for their survival.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Chris Burke (6130)

        Well, back in 2002 he was not the only one. He has probably changed their opinion now that Linux is crucial for their survival.

        Maybe, or maybe he still hates it but is forced to accept it. I mean, I need oxygen to survive but I still hate that piece of shit element.

      • by rbanffy (584143)

        In 2002 they could be even be betting the company on the Risc PC/RiscOS duo...

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by mejogid (1575619)

        now that Linux is crucial for their survival.

        While I'd agree that linux has started to make an impact on mobile devices, thanks primarily to its non /GNU implementation in Android, it's clearly not [wikipedia.org] the only thing keeping ARM alive (apologies for the wikipedia link, the sources seem to check out). While their profit/unit may be low, they've got £50 million net income, 1,500 employees and and have shipped 10 billion devices including 98% of phones. Linux may be a growing market, but suggesting it's keeping them afloat is ludicrous.

  • by rbanffy (584143) on Thursday June 18, 2009 @03:34PM (#28378975) Homepage Journal

    It would be either that or not having Nvidia support on Windows 7 SP 1...

  • Who needs Android? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by GPLHost-Thomas (1330431) on Thursday June 18, 2009 @03:39PM (#28379051)
    Really, the early success of netbooks loaded with Ubuntu showed clearly that there is no real need for Android. Now, there's going to be netbooks with ARM. GREAT, this is the time to demonstrate (if only it was needed) that Linux is portable, and that distributions like Debian can run perfectly on ARM chips. There WILL be some players in the industry that will understand it, sooner or later. I knew there will be a time where DFSG free OS would start becoming popular just because of the fact it can fit any hardware. It's great if it's demonstrated by using them on cheaper netbooks.
    • by fnj (64210)

      You, sir, are about the only insightful commenter on this entire thread. Whether or not Android blows the opportunity in front of it, Linux is totally on top of this.

    • I think you may have missed the point of Android, which was to run on mobile phones, where your input and output hardware is quite a bit different than on most, if not all, portable computers. Sure, you could run Debian on the hardware in an HTC phone, but that isn't the hard part. The bulk of the work would be in the UI programs, and most of the programs that are part of Gnome or KDE wouldn't work too well with the phone's hardware. You'd end up needing to rewrite most of the user applications anyway.
    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      Android has some real advantages over just Linux in this space.
      From a technical point of view it doesn't use X. X is a bit big and trades performance for other virtues that are not an advantage on a smallish embedded device.
      Also Android applications are CPU agnostic. They will run on any CPU you port Android too.
      The big advantage of Android is that it has an App store.
      No Yum, apt-get, and Synaptic are NOT a replacement for an App store.

      You can not sell your software through Synaptic, you can not see reviews

  • by somenickname (1270442) on Thursday June 18, 2009 @03:44PM (#28379147)

    A company that only begrudgingly supports linux with a massive binary blob and no real support thinks that it may be easier to support a platform where that kind of treatment is considered the norm. This does not surprise me. I have a lot of respect for the nvidia linux engineers and they seem like knowledgeable and good guys but, I would imagine that management has tied their hands and this is a political rather than an engineering decision.

    • by djeaux (620938)

      I would imagine that ... this is a political rather than an engineering decision.

      I would imagine you are correct. Just based on the years I spent in management, I'd say about 85-90% of corporate decisions are based on "politics" or "marketing." Engineering only gets a small slice of the remaining 10-15%...

      • Drawing a parallel, American car companies spend far more money on marketing than R&D. Japanese car companies are the opposite. Look how that turned out.

        That being said, Windows CE is rock solid, has a familiar API, and if extremely mature. There is no reason to believe that this isn't a solid engineering decision, albeit a not-so-popular decision here on slashdot.
  • by Joseph Lam (61951) on Thursday June 18, 2009 @03:48PM (#28379243)

    Mike Rayfield:

    "The world soundly rejected the first netbooks that came out with Linux," he said. "Printers didn't work, and devices didn't get recognized. The whole thing was a mess."

    And how is Windows CE/Mobile any better in that regard? I would think it's even worse.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by LWATCDR (28044)

      Actually it could be worse.
      How many people will buy a printer that "works with windows" only to have it fail on a WINCE netbook?
      Hey Windows is Windows.

    • CE 6 comes with a lot of drivers. The fact that it was offered for a lot of time for lots of very different devices helps.

  • A bunch of FUD? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by xlotlu (1395639) on Thursday June 18, 2009 @04:02PM (#28379509)

    Maybe I don't get it, but this looks like a concerted FUD campaign against Android. I don't know much about the Android internals, but isn't graphics hardware acceleration handled in the DRM part of the Linux kernel? What does this have to do with Android?

    Presumably Android would have to implement the rest of DRI (if they don't use the existing Linux infrastructure / didn't do so already), and next their equivalent of a X.org video driver. But what's the big deal?

    Also, all video and graphics rendering in Android is done today by the operating system's Java code, a technique he says is too slow for HD video.

    "There's no hardware acceleration. It's all software," Rayfield said.

    So, huh? Because it's Java it can't use hardware acceleration?

    Other major problems include the fact that the Android icons are too large, and apparently it's gonna take one year to make them small... Well, that makes a lotta sense.

    It would make more sense if nVidia said "We're already having a hard time with binary blobs for those lousy x86 linux geeks. Now they want to do that for ARM too, and even worse, for something that doesn't use the X.org architecture. I say we better get together again next year."

    • >Because it's Java it can't use hardware acceleration? If they really are bound to java, they're at google's mercy for hardware accelerated bindings.

      Windows CE supports drivers much the way desktop windows does, so there is flexibility and familiarity there. I used to own an HTC Fuze running Windows Mobile 6.5, which had an ATI chip and drivers for hardware acceleration. It is already being done.
  • by speedtux (1307149) on Thursday June 18, 2009 @04:02PM (#28379529)

    After twenty years of Microsoft corrupting the industry and colluding with other companies to place their products, how can anybody take such statements seriously? Nvidia has strong ties to Microsoft, and when Microsoft tells them to jump, they simply ask "how high".

    Personally, I think Android is not a very good choice for netbooks; Ubuntu Netbook edition is a much better choice. But Windows CE wouldn't even make my list of a usable netbook operating system.

    • That's not a fair comment. The problem with WinCE isn't that it's a terrible OS, it's that it wasn't designed from the ground up to be a mobile OS (or at least scalable). I've been developing for WinCE for about 3 years now, and the problem's I see are more 1.) M$'s crappy documentation and support for any of it's esoteric APIs, 2.) It's just not an efficient OS. , and 3.) the asinine decision to use a desktop UI model on a screen 2 x 3 inches square. It's a no brainer for a CEO to go with the devil he k
    • by Dragonslicer (991472) on Thursday June 18, 2009 @05:09PM (#28380693)

      Personally, I think Android is not a very good choice for netbooks; Ubuntu Netbook edition is a much better choice.

      It's disturbing how many people still don't realize that software that's designed for a specific purpose is better at that purpose than software that was designed for some other purpose.

  • Wrong way around? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by FrankDrebin (238464) on Thursday June 18, 2009 @04:03PM (#28379551) Homepage

    Nvidia is busy optimizing its multimedia-savvy Tegra system-on-chip for Windows CE.

    Apparently someone doesn't appreciate the difference between hardware and software.

    • Re:Wrong way around? (Score:4, Informative)

      by TheRaven64 (641858) on Thursday June 18, 2009 @04:29PM (#28380047) Journal

      Optimising hardware for software is not new, especially in the mobile market place. Most ARM cores, for example, have some specialised instructions to make it easier to implement a JVM (including things like bounds-tested array accessors). A lot also have special instructions in their DSPs aimed at making things like MPEG or H.264 decoding (or even encoding) fast. A GPU is basically a CPU specially targeted towards implementing something like OpenGL or Direct3D.

      That said, optimising a SoC for an OS is a bit weird. You're meant to optimise for the applications, not the OS. If the OS needs the hardware optimised for it, and does much more than keeping out of the way of the apps (and making sure that the apps keep out of each others' way) then the OS is probably fundamentally broken.

  • Wait a minute (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Pecisk (688001) on Thursday June 18, 2009 @04:14PM (#28379757)

    1) Poor UI - what he is talking about? Windows CE is a mess. Yes, Windows Mobile 5 was kinda Teletubies land as Windows XP, but still, it's a huge mess stiched together
    2) Doesn't support devices larger than smartphones? Ohh boy, yes, it doesn't, because it doesn't aim for it!

    Sounds like Microsoft partner trashing competitor. Propably there are technical reasons why Nvidia have chosen Windows CE, but these doesn't sound like valid one.

    • by H0p313ss (811249)

      1) Poor UI - what he is talking about? Windows CE is a mess.

      It's all relative... I've been playing with Android on my Freerunner and while kind of sexy for a handheld technically it's not going to win any UI design awards.

      In fact I'd say that for non-technical users (the majority of the market) it's got major usability issues.

    • Re:Wait a minute (Score:4, Informative)

      by nxtw (866177) on Thursday June 18, 2009 @05:10PM (#28380717)

      Poor UI - what he is talking about? Windows CE is a mess. Yes, Windows Mobile 5 was kinda Teletubies land as Windows XP, but still, it's a huge mess stiched together

      Although Windows Mobile is based on Windows CE, they are not the same thing. Windows Mobile is a specific set of applications on top of Windows CE with a single (visible) application - a PDA or phone. Windows CE itself can be used with a keyboard and mouse and has the ability to act as a standard desktop system (with multiple windows visible, a method to switch between windows, etc.)

    • but still, it's a huge mess stiched together

      As opposed to which OS? :)

    • by xlotlu (1395639)
      They have this nifty little SoC called Tegra [nvidia.com], announced about 1 year and a half ago, which still has to prove it's not vapourware.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 18, 2009 @04:55PM (#28380481)

    I work for a very large computer manufacture who is coming out with an ARM based PC. We looked at Marvell, Freescale, and NVIDIA. NVIDIA was the only one who has no support for Linux and because of this was marked off right away. Besides there lack of support for Linux there ARM CPU is pretty weak compared to Marvell and Freescale, there only advantage is the GPU. But because of the lack of Linux support we crossed them off right away. There really only hurting themselves.

  • by recharged95 (782975) on Thursday June 18, 2009 @10:01PM (#28384375) Journal
    • Palm OS crashes--take battery out and in.
    • WinCE crashes--take battery out and in.
    • iPhone OS crashes--Press power button for 5 seconds.
    • Symbian OS crashes--Press power button for 5 seconds or take battery out.
    • Web OS crashes-- ??? (but looks like no different than above)

    Android OS crashes--??? Haven't seen it crash yet (since Dec 2008). Apps have crashed, or the phone needs a reboot due to lack of force close, but the phone recovers nicely on app crashes. Apps crashing on any of the above devices usually result in an OS crash as well.

    .

    There's a reason why VM's make sense. Especially when you're mobile. Nvidia is shooting themselves in the foot on this one.

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