The time regarded with high anxiety and trepidation for IT managers globally has finally arrived – Windows Mobile operating system has reached “end of life” and is no longer supported by Motorola as of Jan 14, 2020.
- What does this mean for the more than 10 million rugged handheld devices supporting businesses and mission critical applications worldwide?
- Are these devices instantly obsolete?
- Do they present security risk for the IT infrastructure?
- What are businesses to do after thousands and millions of capital expenditure on this crucial enterprise hardware? What are recommended products to consider?
With vast experience supporting Windows Mobile based rugged devices, we at Global Consumer Direct will separate fact from fiction and legitimacy from hype.
First let’s review what exactly it means when an OS is no longer supported.
This means Microsoft and other providers will no longer release patches and updates for the operating system.
- Will the device continue to function as it did before? Of course.
- Will the device present a vulnerability to the infrastructure? Well, not exactly.
Network security protocols and related technology advanced rapidly in the 1990’s and that trend continued into the 2000’s and beyond. However, the advancements in these technologies have begun level out to and are expected to continue plateauing in the coming decade.
Devices updated with the most current network security patches as of 2019 should continue to remain secure for up to 10 years from now – plenty of time to reap value from existing “legacy” hardware investments before embarking upon any switch to Android.
For customers needing help with missed updates, Global Consumer Direct is here to assist in getting up to speed with the necessary updates.
Next, let’s cut through the hype.
We want to shed some light upon Windows Mobile hardware being suddenly brandished as “obsolete” goods. Of course, there is benefit towards this mindset when profit is to be made from selling fleets of new hardware.
In reality, many of our customers are large organizations each with many hundreds of rugged devices running older versions of Windows. These businesses continue to operate older OS versions such as WM 5.0, CE 5.0, or WM6.1 with no issue.
End of mainstream support for Windows Mobile 5.0 occurred back in 2010 and extend support in 2014. By maintaining necessary updates, our customers have no issues keeping devices and infrastructure secure and running smooth despite continuing to use “unsupported” operating systems.
There is absolutely no reason to rush and frantically replace every Windows Mobile rugged device with the latest Android device. Case in point leading manufacturers such as Zebra continue to sell Windows Embedded Handheld 6.5 and Windows CE 7.0 devices. These products remain useful and are expected to continue being so for years to come.
Any possible transition to new hardware must also involve considering the many direct and also indirect costs involved. Capital investment is an obvious factor but many intangible costs result from transition as well, including those resulting from integration, end user training, troubleshooting and support to name a few. The overall impact of changes in technology can be monumental to the business. More reason to stay the course and strategically plan for transition over the long term.
Nonetheless, organizations should start devising long term goals and vision towards transitioning over the coming years ahead. This is our advisable strategy for most small to mid-sized organizations that are using Windows Mobile rugged handhelds.
Global Consumer Direct is uniquely qualified to guide businesses through navigating every step of such projects. Our four-step methodology for transitioning rugged data capture mobile computing devices includes analysis, product selection, implementation, and end-to-end support.
Below are some examples of transition projects we are currently managing for existing customers.
MC9090/MC9190 Windows Mobile > MC92N0 Android
MC9090 run various Windows versions including WM 5.0, 6.1 or CE 5.0 while MC9190 run either WM 6.5 or CE 6.0. The logical upgrade we recommend for these would be the latest iteration of this family – MC9200 with Android. All accessories such as batteries, cradles, chargers, etc. are completely interchangeable between MC9200 and the older models to ensure a very simple transition and minimized overall expense.
Motorola MC75/MC75A Windows Mobile > TC75 Android
Similar to the MC9000 series mentioned above Motorola MC75 or MC75A also run older Windows versions such as WM 6.1 and WM 6.5. These customers are being transitioned to TC75 Android devices. Rugged “phone style” devices have come a long way and the latest Android devices have done away with a physical keypad. TC75 is one example of this. The form factor is similar to MC75/MC75A in size and the ruggedness is comparable, however TC75 is a phone style Android device with a touch-screen based keyboard. This is the future of the PDA/EDA type devices.
Motorola MC55/MC55A > TC5x
Customers coming from MC55/MC55A are being transitioned to TC5x (TC51/52, TC56/57). This is another case of similar dimensions, ruggedness, etc. between both product families. The main difference once again is the phone style display on the TC5x series and of course, the Android operating system.
Global Consumer Direct has been working with Windows Mobile since the early 2000’s and Android since 2011 so we have proven experience in virtually every possible scenario. We are here to assist your organization in making the move to Android when the time is right.