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See SPOT Develop . . . Apps, That Is

At Embedded World 2007 in Nuremberg, Germany Tuesday, Microsoft announced it is shipping a developers kit for the smallest of its device systems.

The .NET Micro Framework grew out of Microsoft's Smart Personal Objects Technology (SPOT) initiative, which was designed to support very small, embedded devices that do not have the resources to run a more full-function system like Windows Mobile.

Microsoft's .NET Micro Framework Software Developers Kit (SDK) integrates with Visual Studio 2005, enabling SPOT devices developers to work in C# in a managed code environment, company officials and Microsoft documents said.

In addition, the Micro Framework provides extensible hardware emulation and real-time debugging capabilities, including support for devices built on the ARM7 and ARM9 microprocessors.

Among the SPOT devices that have debuted so far have been watches, weather stations, and GPS (Global Positioning System) units, though Microsoft sees far more uses for such small embedded systems such as in robotics applications.

The .NET Micro Framework is not the same as Microsoft's .NET Compact Framework. The Compact edition is designed to support much more powerful devices such as wireless phones running Windows Mobile. (Microsoft just announced that it will ship Windows Mobile 6 this spring.)

A minimum of 256KB RAM and 512KB Flash/ROM is required for development and deployment. Other requirements for development include Windows XP, Windows Vista, or Windows Server 2003 along with Visual Studio 2005 (either Standard or Professional edition). It also requires a 600 MHz Pentium processor (1 GHz Pentium processor recommended) and 6 MB of free hard-disk space.

Microsoft's .NET Micro Framework SDK is available here.

About the Author

Stuart J. Johnston has covered technology, especially Microsoft, since February 1988 for InfoWorld, Computerworld, Information Week, and PC World, as well as for Enterprise Developer, XML & Web Services, and .NET magazines.

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