This is kind of a brain-dump. I get asked this a fair bit – which tools do you need to develop for Windows CE and/or Windows Mobile? (See here for the difference.)
For Windows CE 3.0 custom platforms, Pocket PC 2000 and Pocket PC 2002: eMbedded Visual C++ 3.0. You cannot debug on these older devices using eVC 4.0; you can’t debug CE 4.x or later devices using eVC 3.0.
For Windows CE 4.x custom platforms: eMbedded Visual C++ 4.0. At least SP1 is required for CE 4.1, SP2 for CE 4.2, latest is SP4. SP1 and SP2 were mutually exclusive – if you installed SP2 you couldn’t develop for CE 4.1; this was rectified in SP3.
For Pocket PC 2003 (alternatively Windows Mobile 2003 for Pocket PC), Smartphone 2003 (Windows Mobile 2003 for Smartphone) and respective Second Editions: eVC 4.0 SP2 or later, or VS 2005.
For Windows CE 5.x custom platforms: eVC 4.0 SP4, or VS 2005. You will get link errors complaining about corrupt debug information if you use eVC 4.0 because the platforms are actually built using version 13.1 (VS2003–compatible) compilers while eVC 4.0 SP4 can only handle debug information from version 12.0 (VC 6.0–compatible) compilers, hence SP4 only includes 12.0 compilers.
For Windows Mobile 5.0: VS 2005 only. The SDKs do not install into eVC 4.0.
For whatever device you’re building for, you need the correct SDK. However, you will find that programs are binary-compatible across different CE platforms, if the APIs required by the program are present on the platform. Using the correct SDK ensures that you build for the correct processor type and don’t accidentally reference APIs that won’t be available at runtime.
.NET Compact Framework 1.0 is supported for Pocket PC 2002, Windows Mobile 2003 for Pocket PC, Windows Mobile 2003 for Smartphone and Windows Mobile 5.0, and custom CE 4.x platforms. For Pocket PC 2002 you must use VS.NET 2003; for Windows Mobile 5.0 you need VS 2005 (I think). For Windows Mobile 2003 you can use either, and I would strongly recommend using VS 2005 as soon as you can stand to convert your project. This will completely rewrite your resx files. Converting the project does not mean immediately upgrading to .NET Compact Framework 2.0, that’s a separate step.
.NET Compact Framework 2.0 requires VS 2005 and only runs on Windows Mobile 2003 for Pocket PC (not WM2003 Smartphone), and CE 5.0 and Windows Mobile 5.0 devices.
VS2005 requires ActiveSync 4.1, minimum, for deployment and debugging. I was originally annoyed at the loss of network synchronisation capability, but found that, if a wireless connection is present, you can begin a debugging session over USB and continue over wireless if you disconnect from the cradle or cable.
To complete the compatibility matrix, as far as I can see CF1.0’s SqlCeClient only works with SQL Server CE 2.0 while CF2.0’s only works with SQL Mobile 2005 (SQL Server 2005 Mobile Edition). If anyone knows different let me know.