This guide has information that applies to all of Microsoft's Embedded Operating Systems. I wrote it with WinCE based devices in mind, but a lot of the software I mention is OS agnostic.
The first thing you should know is that there are 3 families of CPUs that your device might be using, ARM, Mips, and SH3/SH4. The software written for one CPU will not work on another CPU. If you have a choice, try to use a device with an ARM CPU. It has the most software available.
The second thing you should know is that you will encounter device specific and OS specific peculiarities with the software. For instance, Mobipocket v4.9 will work on a particular WinCE 3.0 device, but won't work on another WinCE 4.2 device. Or, the PDF viewer for Mips CPU won't run reliably on any WinCE below v3.0.
The main way to find out if a program will work is to install it and test. Well, actually you should ask someone first, but there is no guarantee that they will have used the device or software in question.
Some devices are picky about where you can install programs. Some will let you install a program on CF card. Others will only let you install on to the devices RAM.
Types of Installation files
The files I've installed fell into 1 of two types: CAB and Executable. A CAB file is meant to be copied to the handheld and run from there. The executable is slightly more complicated. Some need MS ActiveSync to be installed and running. Others do not. You might even encounter a few that need to be copied to your handheld and run from there.
You will probably want to install this. As you install more programs, you will very likely encounter one that comes packaged in an installer that demands ActiveSync.
The downside of ActiveSync is that it only runs on XP. There is a similar program for Vista, but I'm not sure that it is similar enough to fool the installer. Also, the Vista program doesn't support synchronization with WinCE devices below v4.2. You can find out more here
I'm just going to cover the big 4 formats (Mobipocket, MSReader, PDF, Ereader) right now, and discuss other reader software later.
Now, the first ebook reader you should use is Mobipocket. This is the only one that I know for certain has software for all 3 CPUs. You can find it here
. You want one of the ones labeled "HPC". You might also try the one labeled "OldWindowsMobile". This will work on a lot of WinCE devices, and has a couple extra features. There are 2 small problems, though. The first is that this version of MobiReader doesn't support large images; it ignores them.The other problem is that it doesn't recognize the MOBI suffix you find on newer ebooks. It will read the ebook, you simply have to change it from something.MOBI to something.PRC.
BTW, there is a free activation code on Mobipocket's forum. Without it certain features will disappear after 2 weeks.
The only reader I know of for LIT works only on ARM CPU. You can download it here
. It works reasonably well, and can be authorized as a valid device. I think I encountered a third party LIT reader for Mips. If I find it again I will add a link. There is no MSReader for SH3/SH4.
This appears to support all 3 CPU families. I haven't tested it, so I can't make any promises. Here
is download page on ereader.com. This is not where I got it; that site has vanished. I'm going to have to put together a better set of download links for this.
Devices running WinCE 4.0 and later should come with a PDF viewer. I don't know of a PDF viewer for SH3/SH4. You can find ones for ARM and Mips here
. Scroll down.
Most WinCE devices come with Pocket IE and Pocket Office, so you should have at least basic support of these documents.
P.S. I provided a number of links to various sites. When you're comfortable, you should look at the other software on those sites. There is some very useful stuff out there.