By default, does Windows CE 6 auto-run applications found on an inserted USB stick? We are actually trying to make sure this does NOT happen, but the documentation we're finding is contradictory as to whether it happens or not ...

In response to Ramhound's request:

1) There's a post on stackoverflow that seems related, but the msdn page it links to is talking about running specific programs, not "run whatever shows up on an inserted USB Stick" (what Windows XP/7/8/etc. calls autorun).

2) There's a discussion on intermec that points to an msdn page talking about autorun, but it's talking about Windows Mobile which may or may not apply to Windows CE. There's also a link to Security Policy Settings which is totally out of context and I don't know how to apply the information therein.

3) Bruce Eitman (who usually knows what he is talking about) says "Windows CE ... doesn’t automatically run applications on removable media when the media is inserted." (emphasis mine)

4) There is a discussion about autorun on msdn that leaves the question un-answered

Practical Test

To our existing WinCE 6 app (which runs off an SD card) I added a call to SHGetAutoRunPath(). It returned "\Network\2577\autorun.exe" where 2577 is the expected ARM processor number but "Network" is strange since it's not connected to a network. This same value is returned whether I have a USB stick inserted at boot time or not.

I then made another version of our existing app that simply wrote a file ("autoran.txt") onto a writable directory on the SD card, and copied the modified app to "\2577\autorun.exe" on a USB stick. Having this USB stick inserted when the device booted resulted in NO "autoran.txt" file appearing on the SD card, indicating autorun did not happen.

  • Can you quote said documentation?
    – Ramhound
    Jul 13 '15 at 15:38
  • Why are you trying to make sure it doesn't happen? Not to prevent someone from running what they want on their own hardware, I hope.
    – flarn2006
    Nov 5 '19 at 1:37
  • My company has a device that runs on Windows CE. It's not general purpose hardware so if Windows suddenly starting running any app inserted into its USB drive, we would have a real problem. Nov 9 '19 at 23:58

The fact that the device is not connected to a network does not mean that CE agrees with that. It could see the device itself (localhost) as network.

I thought that autorun.inf (not exe) would run from the root of the usb stick, not from a folder. Making this location dependent on the processor type doesn't seem logical. Did you test with autorun in the root? Why should it be different from a CD ROM?


Autorun.inf is a text file that is located in the root folder of your application CD-ROM.

  • 1
    You're looking at Windows documentation - WinCE is slightly different. Jul 21 '15 at 22:15

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