It’s not that I didn’t know this for such a long time, but today I’ve just realized that there are so many questions regarding automatic application launching.
So, leaving the startup process aside, once WinCE has loaded, the system loads all the applications specified in the HKLM\Init registry key, with the values of LaunchXX. The XX stand for a integer value between 00 and 99 (this means that 1 should be coded as 01). The XX values actually represent the sequence that applications are launched (so 00 will be launched first, 01 second etc.). It is good to keep in mind that the system will not wait for an application to ‘fully’ start. This means that it will generate an interruption for each and every application in the Init key, in a specified sequence, without creating a delay or a timeout between any two consecutive applications in the sequence. This is good since it means that application launching cannot create any kind of system hangs (at least in theory).
However, it is sometimes necessary to create a dependency between applications (application MyShell.exe cannot start – in the developer’s point of view – without running Shell.exe, since, for example, it is using some variables generated by Shell.exe). Therefore, a DependXX value can be used, where XX should match the value in the LaunchXX key where the dependecy is specified.
LaunchXX contains a value of the REG_SZ type which must be the name of the program that needs to be launched, such as MyShell.exe, without the parameters. Again, the XX value determines the load order.
DependXX contains a value of the REG_BINARY type, which enables you to determine the dependency of applications on other applications during the load by specifying which applications must be loaded prior to the application specified in the corresponding LaunchXX key. The indexes of XX applications that a given application is dependent on are specified as a lists of words with a reverse byte order. It is important to keep in mind that a word is (as usual) 2 bytes long.
The application specified in the Init registry key must inform the system that it has loaded successfully and the dependent applications can be loaded by calling the SignalStarted() function with a parameter that it is passed to by the system as a command line parameter
during the load.
An example of the Init registry key is shown below:
In this case, the shell.exe application launches first, then it loads the Device Manager (device.dll), which depends (in the example) on shell.exe, then it loads gwes.dll, which is dependent on the Device Manager, and finally, MyShell.exe, which depends on both the Device Manager (device.dll) and gwes.dll.
Normally, setting up the startup options is something you would do on OS image building. However, in case you can’t do this before building the image, and considering you are using a Hive-based registry, it is ok if you use a Registry Editor or a Remote Regustry Editor (like the one over KITL) and update the registry ‘manually’.
Word of advice: always be sure to double-check the launch sequence! It is possible that certain BSP features or drivers are already in the sequence and required by the your OEM. Using the same XX value twice in a sequence may cause system crash or system ‘hang’. In case you want to auto-launch only one application (your main application for the system), it is probably best to assign it the 99 value (in case it’s free :-)).
That should be it for now! Comments are very welcome!