Discovering Windows Embedded Standard 2011 – Part 3 – What can you do with ICE?

31 01 2010

Winter is quite intense this year here in Germany with a lot of ice and snow.
But, ICE, the Image Configuration Editor in WES 2011, of course, does not relate to all of this.

ICE is the replacement of Target Designer, which until WES 2009, has been the image configuration tool for all XP based embedded versions of the operating system. It required  component database where all meta information was located as well as a repository, which kept all binaries in a relatively flat folder structure. On WES 2011 this is quite different, the component database and repository are gone, respectively have been replaced by the distribution share. This is due to the fact that the new configuration and deployment process to a large extent leverages the standard Windows 7 approach of doing this.


ICE is used to create an answer file to configure the embedded operating system image in a second step using the image builder wizard I was writing about last week.
Therefore IBW can be considered the build engine while ICE is the configuration tool. As I said, components are history. This is good and bad. One the one had they had been sometimes hard to understand and create (if one was building a custom component e.g. for a driver), on the other hand did they provide a very flexible and granular way to configure the image. Feature Packs now hold the functionality of the configuration, but these are by far not as granular as components.
The image is create by adding feature packs to the answer file. If you right-click in the answer file pane anew file is generated based on a Windows Embedded core configuration, which is about 564 MB in size.


This configuration does not hold any information about the device hardware itself. This needs to be imported with the help of a tool called TAP.exe, which is quite familiar to all XP embedded or WES 2009 developers. Run TAP.exe on the devices and import the resulting *.pmq file into ICE using the File | Import menu.
XP embedded used to have an important tool called Dependency Check, which parsed all component to guarantee the image was working well. This functionality is also available in ICE, baut called  validation. Press the “Validation” button and if something is missing you are asked to resolve the missing dependencies.


After all dependencies have been satisfied we are able to build our first, plain and simple embedded OS image. As stated before ICE does not build the image itself. What you need to do is to create a “Configuration Set”. This is the combination of configuration meta information as well as binaries IBW needs to create the image. A configuration set contains:

  • AutoUnattend.xml -A copy of the source answer file
  • AutoUnattend_Files – Packages used in the source answer file
  • $OEM$ – A copy of the files and folders from the source $OEM$ folder that you specify

The next steps are quite easy:

  • Put this on your IBW USB stick and you are ready for deployment onto the target device.
  • Boot via USB into IBW and watch your ICE configured image being installed.

After this, your first basic image is running on the target device. This have been just the fundamental steps, of course and there is a lot more to do to configure an embedded OS image for a real project.

Therefore, stay tuned to discover more advanced topics in my upcoming posts.






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