Customers currently running applications that require a legacy Microsoft operating system (Windows CE 6 or Windows Mobile/ Windows Embedded Handheld 6.5) will soon face the end of support for their platform. Mainstream support, which includes regular updates, has ended for both legacy systems. Microsoft extended support (security fixes) will end for Windows CE 6 in early 2018 and for Windows Embedded Handheld 6.5 in early 2020. After those dates, vendors will be unable to provide patches should a vulnerability or error be found in Microsoft code. For this and other reasons, many customers have begun planning a transition to new applications running under a modern operating system.

As the end of support dates for legacy operating systems approach, customers need to make decisions and plans to move forward, as application development can require considerable time and effort. One way to provide more time to make decisions is to select a hardware offering that can support multiple operating systems. The Honeywell CN75 and CK75 Series mobile computers, along with the Honeywell CN51 mobile computer, offer a choice of Windows Embedded Handheld or Android. In addition, customers purchasing Windows Embedded Handheld can convert their devices to Android at a future date. This allows existing legacy applications to continue running until the organization is ready to move to Android, at which time a simple field-based software conversion is performed. Only a small investment in software is required; no changes are required to the hardware.

Android’s large market presence supports a broad variety of OEMs and hardware form factors, making it more likely that a device is available to meet the customer’s use case and cost requirements, including devices that offer integrated physical keypads.

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Traditionally, Windows was the leading operating system for industrial mobile devices. Windows CE and Windows Mobile Embedded Handheld offered a wide variety of developer tools, third-party plug-ins and other offerings that made the Windows platform more attractive than operating systems offered by Google and Apple.

But the picture has changed in the last few years. Microsoft is phasing out support for its mobile operating systems. Microsoft has already ceased making regular updates, and Windows Handheld 6.5 will be the last entrant to reach end-of-life in January of 2020. Companies with a Windows Mobile strategy must begin planning for the transition. Essentially, there are two ways to plan the transition from Windows to Android; and here are the pros and cons of each.

The Big Bang Theory

The “big bang” plan is to replace all devices at the same time with new devices on a different operating system. While this sounds like the quickest way to migrate with the least hassle, it has several drawbacks. This strategy requires a larger investment in new hardware and new applications during a single period. That can lead to lost productivity, unplanned downtime and extensive training.

Dual Operating System Hardware

A more staggered approach and one that is being adopted across industries are to beginning to replace existing devices on your regular replacement cycle with devices that can run both Windows and Android operating systems. The Honeywell CN75 and Honeywell CK75 Series mobile computers, along with the Honeywell CN51 mobile computer, offer a choice of both Windows Embedded Handheld or Android. In addition, customers purchasing Windows Embedded Handheld devices can now convert their devices to Android at a future date – and on their own schedule.

The advantages of this strategy are clear:

  • You can stay with your existing upgrade cycle rather than replace all devices at once.
  • Your users can continue using existing apps and solutions, so they only need to become familiar with operating the new device rather than learn entirely new processes.
  • You have additional time to manage writing new apps and interfaces before making the transition.
  • When you are ready to convert, the transition to Android will be easier since users are already familiar with the hardware.

Android has become increasingly attractive to app developers, so you can expect many apps and VARs to enter the market during and immediately after the transition from Windows Handheld.

The Honeywell family of mobile industrial handheld computing devices offers many advantages in addition to the ability to run dual operating systems. These devices are rugged, designed to withstand the harsh operating conditions in many manufacturing and warehouse environments. They offer long battery life, so they last through an entire shift, and they have user replaceable batteries for multi-shift operations. They come with a complete line of accessories, so you can configure the devices to optimize productivity for each user and situation in your operation, and the scanners themselves are accurate and fast.

If you’ve been grappling with how to transition from one platform to another, consider upgrading your existing devices and choosing a mobile computer that can give you the flexibility of operating on either operating system. Contact us today for more information and best practices on the migration process.