Windows CE is based on the Microsoft Windows operating system but is designed for including or embedding in mobile and other space-constrained devices. Although Microsoft does not explain the "CE," it is reported to have originally stood for "Consumer Electronics." Windows CE is used in several brands of handheld computers and as part of cable TV set-top boxes built for TCI. It competes with EPOC and also with similar operating systems from 3Com (for its PalmPilot) and other companies. Like the full-scale Windows systems, Windows CE is a 32-bit multitasking, multithreading operating system. Microsoft emphasizes that the system was "built from scratch" while taking advantage of Windows architectural concepts and interfaces. Microsoft argues that Windows desktop system users will find that products with Windows CE provide a familiar user interface.
In addition to handheld computers and cable TV boxes, Windows CE is also offered as the operating system for the Auto PC, Microsoft's concept of controlling applications (such as selecting radio channels) while driving, using interactive speech technology.