What does Microsoft ending support for the Windows Embedded Handheld OS really mean?

By: Greg Henry

Microsoft announced in 2013 that it planned to end of life the Windows Embedded handheld operating system beginning with Windows Embedded CE on June 10, 2018 and Windows Embedded Handheld 6.5 on January 14, 2020.

With this final date rapidly approaching, we wanted to provide insight to how this event impacts the millions of ruggedized mobile computers being used around the world capture, process and update countless business processes every minute of the day.

What this means going forward
First and foremost, January 14, 2020 is not doomsday. All existing devices will continue to operate exactly like before! However, Microsoft will no longer issue any software updates or security patches which means that your applications and network may become more vulnerable to data and security threats.

Without Microsoft support, it also means that:
· Device manufactures will begin end of sale plans for these devices
· Over time, device manufactures will stop supporting/ repairing these devices
· Existing users MUST have a migration strategy

Essential Elements of a Migration Strategy

Replacement OS selection
Until recently, Windows Embedded Handheld was the most dominate operating system in rugged environments with industry analysts stating that four out of five mobile computers were using it in 2014. Today, Android has become the standard operating system for rugged mobile devices although IOS, Windows 10 and Linux devices can be found in some environments. Unless you have a specific need to invest in IOS, Windows 10 or any other mobile operating system, selecting Android will provide you with the largest eco-system of device options, mobile applications, support tools and systems/solution providers.

Mobile Application Selection
After selecting your preferred operating system, mobile application selection is the next step. Unfortunately, regardless of the OS selected, your legacy Windows Embedded applications are going to need to be replaced as they are not compatible with the new OS. A good migration strategy takes this as an opportunity to evaluate the current business and user needs and seeks to enhance the prior functionality rather than just replace it. Things to consider include; reviewing workflows, enhancing user interfaces, leveraging technology advancements such as voice, imaging, camera and location capabilities.

Device Selection
Your options are many when it comes to ruggedized Android computers. The leading device manufactures offer many variations of devices including keyboard, touch screen, wearable and vehicle mounted as well as several form factors and display sizes. With so many options, Barcoding can help you select the correct device to meet the unique requirements of each user group or business function.

Conclusion
The end of Windows Embedded Handheld is not the end but rather a new beginning. An opportunity to evaluate your market, your business and your customers. An opportunity to create new value, enhance processes and improve productivity.

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