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We’ve been discussing enterprise operating systems, as the deadlines approach for Microsoft ending support for Windows Embedded Handheld and Windows CE. The great OS Migration started when Microsoft made the announcement in 2016 that it would no longer provide security updates for their operating systems by 2020. Businesses that have been relying on Microsoft’s OSs for their rugged handheld devices have had to choose between staying with an unsupported operating system, rewriting their apps to fit another version of Windows, or choosing to move to another OS. While there’s naturally a lot of discussion about which choice is best, let’s talk about budgeting for OS migration from Windows.

How will the change in your operating system impact your investment in devices, both legacy, and upgrades?

Start by Assessing Your Legacy Devices for OS Migration

Take Stock of your Legacy Devices including the TC8000 and the MC3300

Are they a few years old (or older)? If so, you’re ready for an upgrade. The evolution of the rugged mobile technology in recent years has delivered a wealth of benefits that command your attention. The productivity factor has escalated. Your workforce can be more efficient with their time, which contributes to a rapid return on investment in your new technology. The Zebra TC8000 all-touch mobile computer, for example, has been proven to boost productivity by 14%. That’s the equivalent of adding one hour per worker per shift. The factor that bonuses across your workforce to determine how this investment in new technology benefits your business. The Zebra MC3300 mobile computer offers the flexibility of four different form factors so you can customize it your ergonomic needs—which enhances productivity as well. This mobile computer also features the combination of three scan engines, three keypads, and three tiers of functionality, so it fits the way you need to use the device, not the other way around.

Create an Inventory of Your Current Use Cases for OS Migration

Take Stock of Your Current use case

Identify how you use the devices as well as the desired results. For example, for barcode scanning, do you require an extended reach? Are you scanning in cold storage where the workers wear gloves and the barcodes could be covered with frost? Do you do a high volume of scanning with a mobile computer or is it purely a secondary feature? You might likely discover that a “one-size-fits-all” approach for rugged mobile devices doesn’t fit your needs. Today’s more advanced technology presents a broad array of purpose-built devices that are drilled down to specific tasks and functions.

Prioritize Your Needs for Functions and Features Investment for OS Migration

Prioritize Your Needs for the OS Migration from Windows

Prioritize your needs so that you understand the functions and features that require investment. Be sure to forecast anticipated uses so that you can future-proof your investment. This will help you focus on the hardware that will best achieve your goals. You can use these guidelines to avoid purchasing less or more than you need. These steps will help you profile your hardware needs. You might have some legacy devices that are still highly functional in your work environment. If they run on an unsupported version of Windows, are you comfortable with the lack of security updates?

Establish a Timeline

Establish a timeline for your Migration that's best for your Warehouse

The OS migration will occur over a period of time. You’re not going to pull the plug one day and be up and running the next. You need a strategy to deploy the new operating system and integrate the new devices. Avalon Integration can help here. We specialize in enterprise systems integration and we’re experienced in the challenges of OS migration. We’ll apply our expertise to develop a strategy with you, acquire the hardware, and implement the transition in an efficient, effective process. Talk to us about making the move to an operating system and enterprise computing hardware that will support your business in the long run and deliver greater results.

In the last post, we talked about the security issues of converting to Android from Windows Embedded Handheld and Windows CE. With Microsoft no longer offering support for these mobile operating systems, businesses are facing a difficult decision. Where to go with their enterprise OS and the logistics of making the transition.

With this shift, you’re faced with several options:

  1. Continue with Windows, without security updates.
  2. Rewrite your apps to fit another version of Windows.
  3. Move to a different operating system, like Android or iOS.

MX Logistics for the Android Family

At Avalon Integration, we looked at these choices. The first leaves you wide open to security breaches, so let’s not even consider it. The second is doable if you’re a loyal Microsoft user. However, Microsoft has already proven that it’s not committed to the enterprise user. Perhaps now is the right time to transfer your loyalty.

Zebra and Android Mobile Computer Family

Rather than commit resources to rewrite apps, allocate them to managing the transition to a strong operating system that is designed to work at this heightened level? Yes, Apple has a closed platform that is renowned for tight security, but it also has a limited developer community.

Transition to Android with 78% Mobile Devices Currently in Use

Android Mobile Devices Currently Used

Android, on the other hand, is already running on 78% of the mobile devices currently in use (compared to 15% with iOS). Among the rugged device users, 54% of newly introduced devices come installed with Android. This OS has a robust developer ecosystem, giving you a broader choice of apps and development opportunities. With Zebra’s Mobility Extensions (Mx), Android is now an enterprise-class operating system. Mx Security strengthens the security with government-grade AES-256 data encryption and a host of other security features not available on consumer-grade Android. More importantly, as you approach the end of life for your current Windows OS, you need to look at the ease of transitioning to a different operating system. How complicated is it? Will you need additional IT staff hours? What do you do with your legacy devices?

Transition to Android for the Most Developer Resources

Android Most Developer Resources Working on a Zebra Tablet

First of all, Android has the most extensive app and developer resources out there. App developers are plentiful, and Avalon Integration specializes in systems integration, so we can guide you through this step.

Android Transition Made Simple

Android OS Made Simple

Zebra’s Mx also incorporates device and app management tools that simplify the deployment. Mx MDM works with your current mobile device management system to deliver the compatibility that eases the transition. Mx MDM makes it easy to remotely stage, update, troubleshoot, lock, wipe, and monitor the Android-based Zebra devices in your network. These services are always running in the background of the devices, so your IT team stays connected with the activity.

Mx Mam Gives You Full Control

Android OS Gives You Full Control

Mx MAM enables silent install, remotely, from your central console. You don’t need to disrupt workflow. In the long-term, Mx MAM provides lockdown features that allow you to develop a list of authorized apps that can be downloaded and run on your devices. You can exclude personal apps and avoid malware—which are even bigger disruptions to the workflow!

Zebra’s purpose-built rugged mobile devices come pre-installed with Mx. Avalon Integration is ready to help you move through the OS migration to arrive at a long-term solution. Talk to us to get started.

Efficient Mobile Computing

Two years ago, users of Windows Embedded Handheld and Windows CE learned that Microsoft was going to pull the plug on these operating systems. No more security patches. No more updates. The end of life has already begun, with support for Windows Embedded CE 6.0 coming to a close on June 10, 2018. The remainder will fade into history over the next two years. The OS migration began as soon as the announcement was made. Those considering the options have looked at Android conversion. The security debate, however, concerned some potential users.

Android is an open-source platform, while the alternative, iOS, is closed. Skeptics worry about the security of Android. Encryption was an issue. It was slow, even on business-grade, high-end devices. Malware risk concerned decision-makers as well. The file-sharing left Android users open to phishing attacks and more.

Mobility throughout the workplace with Zebra Handheld Mobile Computers

These are valid points. But here’s another consideration: Of the 1.2 billion mobile devices currently in use, Android runs on 78% of them. Apple’s iOS runs on 15% of devices, with the minuscule 7% split primarily between BlackBerry and Microsoft. Android dominates here, but enterprise users have still been hesitant about its value as a business operating system. Clearly, Android is the dominant OS. If only these nagging issues could be resolved.

Extensions Zebra Mobile Handheld Computers

Then, Zebra stepped in. The manufacturer of some of the industry’s most rugged, user-friendly, and high-performance enterprise mobile computers recognized the need to overcome Android’s barriers to broader acceptance by business users across industries. Zebra developed Mobility Extensions (Mx), which resulted in what they call “fortified Android”. Mx has strengthened Android in a variety of ways:

  • Security
  • Mobile device management (MDM)
  • Mobile application management (MAM)
  • Data capture
  • Wireless connectivity

Government-Grade Encryption Maximizes Security

Mobility Extensions Government Grade Security

From the security standpoint, this fortified Android uses a government-grade, AES-256 encryption. Mx lets you select the data you want to encrypt—like sensitive data. The result is that encryption doesn’t slow down the device’s performance since it’s not encrypting every bit of information.

Transferrable Encryption Keys Ensures Security

Mobility Extensions Encryption for all Zebra Handheld Mobile Computers

Standard Android generates and secures the encryption keys on the device. But if you need to swap the device or give data to another user, the key doesn’t go along with the SD card. With Mx, the encryption keys are generated and stored in a centralized location. IT has control and can remotely provision another device with the encryption keys necessary to gain access.

Expanded Lockdown

Mobility Extensions Lockdown Security

Mx enables the lockdown of users from a device, an app, or even just a feature. You can limit users to one line-of-business application. When they turn it on, the device automatically launches and locks into that specific application from an enterprise home screen. You protect the network from unauthorized access while enhancing productivity by eliminating distractions. You can also lock down specific features and peripherals, like disabling the USB port so sensitive information can’t be downloaded to a thumb drive—or unauthorized apps can’t be uploaded in the same way.

Reliable Security Updates

Mobility Extensions - Reliable Security Updates

When Microsoft ended support for Windows CE/Embedded security patches, it effectively ended the enterprise use. Without ongoing patches to protect the network, you’re open to all sorts of breach risks. Zebra is staying on top of the security updates, with an internal team that monitors all reported Android security issues. DARN (Discover, Assessment, Remediation, Notification) alerts the Zebra Mx users whenever a patch is available. A link makes the upgrade instantly downloadable and IT can deploy it to all enterprise mobile devices with Mx’s MDM application.

MX comes pre-installed on all Zebra mobile devices. They’re ready to run right out of the box. Avalon Integration sees this fortified Android as a secure solution as you ponder OS migration. Stay tuned to learn more about the logistics challenges and solutions for the move to a different operating system.

Talk to us at Avalon Integration to get a better understanding of how you can get the most out of Mobility Extensions (Mx) today!

Microsoft announced that, in 2020, it will discontinue support for Windows CE and Windows Mobile operating systems. Their decision would impact 15 million computers, about 90% of the enterprise computing market. If you’re using either of these operating systems, you have some important choices to make. With the heavy (and still growing) reliance on mobile devices in the workplace, the choice you make for the operating system will impact users, device choices, application accessibility, network security, and the IT time to handle it all. You have invested in legacy devices but remember that the best OS for a situation is important and Migration may be needed. Are you going to see the ROI or will it be written off to “lesson learned”?

What are your options for Migration?
OS Migration Options

You could sit still. Continue using Windows and move up to Windows 10. However, you’ll be running without the support of security patches next year, because Microsoft is also pulling that plugin 2019. It seems clear that Microsoft’s commitment to enterprise mobile computing is tenuous. Don’t commit to a company that isn’t committed to you.

Your next option is to choose a direction for the operating system that will replace Windows CE/Mobile and rewrite your applications to run on the OS of choice. Android and are good options. Google and Apple have proven themselves to be reliable and innovative. Between Android and iOS, they own 99% of the mobile device market share; however, Android dominates the space with 87% worldwide. Android’s open platform makes it more inviting for developers, which has caused concern over security.

In recent years, companies like Zebra have addressed the perceived weak spots in Android’s security. Zebra’s rugged mobile devices come pre-installed with Mobility Extensions (Mx), which elevates the operating system to an enterprise level for security, device management, data capture, and connectivity. Zebra’s rugged handhelds and enterprise tablets are ready to operate in an Android environment and perform at the high levels of reliability, security, and computing power you should expect from your technology.

Do you need to retire your legacy devices now and make the move to new technology?
Android Legacy Device Migration

At Avalon Integration we’ve been looking at the path for this OS migration. It’s not realistic for a company to buy all new devices, so we’re helping our customers to make a gradual transition. Decide on the operating system and look at those devices that are ready for upgrades. But while you’re trying to hold onto those legacy devices, consider that you might not be saving money. A rugged device’s life expectancy is three years, with an average failure rate of only 1% in the first year. By the fourth year, the rate escalates to 8%. That’s not a big number, so maybe you’re fine with the prospect of extending the life of your rugged devices.

What does 1% really mean for Migration?

OS Migration Android Phone

Every percentage point of device failure translates to a 5% increase in your total cost of ownership. By the fourth year, when your failure rate jumps 7%, you can expect a 35% rise in your TCO. Are you actually saving money by procrastinating or merely avoiding the inevitable business decision?

Those four-year-old legacy devices are also using old technology. The speed is slower, the connectivity is weaker, the resolution is probably less, and it may not have the features that today’s mobile devices offer. Every one of these downsides represents a negative impact on your productivity. You’re not maximizing the potential of your workforce. You’re probably also pushing the limits of your IT staff’s effectiveness.

Millions of enterprise users are faced with the OS migration decision. Avalon Integration can give you more insight, evaluate your current situation, and guide you to the strategic transition that will deliver the best results for your company. Talk to us to steer your migration along a smart route.

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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.