Update 2: Details about Portable CE 3.0 are now online.
I have to admit, I was actually a bit surprised at the number of people that were interested in the Portable CE idea that I wrote about back in December. The idea was simple: Using the Windows CE emulator, I could have my entire “internet communications system” on a virtual machine that I carried around with my on my USB keychain. I could essentally plug it into the USB port of any machine running Windows, and bring up the emulator and use Internet Explorer, Messenger, Inbox, etc. I received tons of emails, lots of comments and even a mention in PC Magazine. 9 months later, I present to you a totally new version: Portable CE 2.0.
First, a disclaimer: This is a work in progress after some experimentation. I make no guarantee’s it will work for you, that it won’t melt your machine or that it will solve world hunger, so cut me some slack.
What is Portable CE? Put simply, Portable CE is a ‘launcher’ for the Windows CE Emulation environment that can run an emulator-based Windows CE image from a USB keychain.
What’s new in Version 2.0? Here’s the killer part: Version 2.0 is now based off the new ARM based Device Emulator which can run native Pocket PC binaries. Yes, you read that correctly – with this version, you will be able to run most Pocket PC apps from emulation.
How do I set this up?
- Download the Microsoft Device Emulator 1.0 Community Preview by following the instructions on that page. You’ll need to go over to the MS Beta website and use the Guest ID that the page mentions. You should eventually be able to download DeviceEmulator050419.msi from there.
- Download snetcfg_wxp.zip from the JSI FAQ page. This tool will enable Portable CE 2.0 to install the Virtual Machine Network Service when launching and remove it when shutting down.
- Extract the emulator to a folder on your hard drive by running “msiexec /a DeviceEmulator050419.msi“. The installer will prompt you to specify a directory to extract to, for example “D:\DeviceEmulator“
- Copy snetcfg_wxp.exe to wherever you extracted the device emulator to (ex – “D:\DeviceEmulator“).
- Copy the following launcher script to the folder that you extracted the device emulator to (ex – “D:\DeviceEmulator“). You’ll need to rename this from pce2.cmd.txt to pce2.cmd
- In the folder that you extracted the device emulator to (ex – “D:\DeviceEmulator“), create an “Apps” folder and a “State” folder.
The Apps folder will be mounted in the emulator as “\My Device\Storage Card“.
The State folder will save state information when you exit the emulator.
Once you have everything setup, just copy the entire folder (ex – “D:\DeviceEmulator“) to your USB keychain.
To launch Portable CE 2.0, just plug in your USB keychain, navigate to the folder and run pce2.cmd. Hopefully, after 30 seconds or so, the emulator will fire up (I launched IE and naviated to furrygoat.com):
As a test, I copied PocketFeed, the RSS reader I wrote for Pocket PC, over to my Apps folder and ran it. It worked without a problem.
This rocks. Now go to any Windows machine, plop in the USB key, and fire up your own “virtual personal machine” that runs Windows CE.
Update: There’s now a mailing list for comments on Portable CE here.