How to: Create a Headless Device

A headless device is a device that lacks a graphical user interface. For example, this could be an embedded device that does not include a keyboard and a display screen. A headless device that is running the .NET Compact Framework does not include any .dlls that support forms, controls, drawing, or Managed Direct3D mobile applications.

Before you can create a headless device, you must install Platform Builder and the most current monthly update that supports the .NET Compact Framework version 2.0 Service Pack 1 and later. To obtain the correct Platform Builder monthly update, visit the Windows Embedded CE Updates Web site.

The requirements for a headless device include the following:

  • The .NET Compact Framework SP1 or later, which is included with the Platform Builder monthly update.

  • Windows CE 5.0 or later versions.

The Platform Builder monthly update includes a new Catalog item that you must add to your image. The contents of the new Catalog item are as follows:

  • Cgacutil.exe

  • Mscoree.dll

  • Mscoree2_0.dll

  • Mscorlib.dll

  • System.dll


  • System.xml.dll



  • System.messaging.dll

  • Microsoft.visualbasic.dll


The .NET Compact Framework CAB files are not supported on a headless device.

The following namespaces are not supported on headless devices:

The programming model for headless devices remains the same with the following exceptions:

  • HTTP proxy settings cannot be detected automatically and must be specified in code.

  • Network connections that require credentials will fail unless you provide credentials in your code.

  • The option to call ShellExecuteEx with the ProcessStartInfo class is not available because the shell is not available on a headless device.

To create a headless image

  1. In Platform Builder, include the .NET Compact Framework SP1 or later headless Catalog item in your image.


    This Catalog item is used in place of the .NET Compact Framework 2.0 Catalog item. In some cases, you can also exclude NETUI, but you must ensure that any other Catalog items that you include are not dependent on NETUI.

  2. In Visual Studio, create an empty Windows Embedded CE project.

  3. In the Devices tab of the Project Designer, clear the Deploy the latest version of the .NET Compact Framework (including Service Packs) check box.

    This setting ensures that.NET Compact Framework CAB files are not included in the project.

  4. When your Visual Studio solution is complete, include it with the image in Platform Builder.

See Also


How to: Create Log Files


Log File Information

Other Resources

Windows Embedded CE Development and the .NET Compact Framework