• Hardware

Migrate Before It’s Too Late: Windows Embedded OS Reaching End of Life

Written by Tim Ingles
September 25, 2018

Time to Migrate is Running Out

The clock has been ticking ever since 2015, when Microsoft first announced it would be phasing out support for its mobile operating systems such as Windows Embedded Handheld and Windows CE.

Once the de facto standard in enterprise mobile computing, the popularity of Windows Embedded operating systems has declined as newer, more flexible mobile operating systems have emerged, such as Android and iOS.

That brings us to Windows’ sunset, which is significant for these products because after the end-of-life deadline. Up to 15 million devices running these mobile OS platforms will no longer be able to receive updates or security fixes. Companies using these legacy systems will then be at risk.

To mitigate potential disruptions from discontinuation of the select Windows Embedded software, supply chain organizations face a decision on how to migrate mobile applications and hardware running these older Windows systems to another OS within the next 18 months.

Operating Systems Reaching End-of-Life

These are the Microsoft Windows operating systems reaching the end of their lifecycle:

Windows Embedded CE 6.0 has ended

  • Mainstream support ended in 2013
  • Extended support ended in April 2018

Windows Embedded 8.1 Handheld

  • Support ends on 7/9/2019

Windows Embedded Handheld 6.5

  • Mainstream support ended in 2015
  • Extended support ends on 1/14/2020

To view the full list on the Microsoft site, click here.

Why End of Life Matters

Not preparing for this Windows OS discontinuation has the potential to cause significant disruptions due to lapsed security updates and obsolescence. These risks affects businesses big and small.

Staying up-to-date with hardware is critical to preventing disruptions in your daily operations.

While some organizations have already made the plunge and migrated away from the Embedded OS, many companies are lingering dangerously behind.

The top three reasons why the sunset of Windows Embedded Handheld OS matters to your business:

  • Losing functionality when these older devices malfunction or fail and have to be replaced. As manufacturers stop making components for old hardware, repairs will become increasingly difficult, diminishing the usability of those devices.
  • Security will be a concern. Without the ability to patch newly-discovered vulnerabilities, devices running unsupported operating systems become an increasing liability as time goes on.
  • Lastly, compatibility will become more challenging. Adding new devices and software ad-hoc complicate your technology environment unnecessarily if each must be made compatible with platforms that are no longer supported.

These factors make migrating off legacy Windows systems critical to your business.

But don’t worry. There is still time to prepare for a pain-free transition to a new operating system and maintain operational continuity—for now.

Plan Ahead for Obsolescence

Having to migrate from legacy Windows mobile operating systems to Android or iOS may require investing thousands of dollars in upgrades. This is one of the reasons why implementing mobile platforms that run on multiple operating systems can help futureproof your technology systems.

For these reasons, it’s important for each organization to have a plan in place for making this migration. An effective migration strategy will help ensure a smooth transition and minimize or eliminate costly downtime.

When it comes to software, look to Android. Not only does its widespread use make the interface familiar and easy to use, hardware manufacturers push the Android OS because it is highly flexible and easy to develop. Android is already well on its way to becoming the new standard for mobile devices in commercial and industrial settings. This makes Android-compatible software and hardware a go-to when it comes time to migrate.

But when it comes to replacing hardware, your options are less clear. You may even find migrating your handheld devices to be a little overwhelming. That’s why it’s crucial to work with a solutions provider like RFgen who can help you choose new hardware that harmonizes with your software systems.

We’ve put together our top picks for cutting-edge ruggedized mobile devices to help you along the way:

Our Picks for Rugged Mobile Computers

Honeywell Ultra-rugged Dolphin CN80 Mobile Computer

  • Large touchscreen with 23-key or 40-key keypad
  • Enhanced 1D/2D scanning and data capture
  • Scan ranges from 6 in to 50 ft for warehousing

Honeywell Ultra-rugged CK75 Mobile Computer

  • 31% smaller and lighter than other ultra-rugged devices
  • Industry’s fastest and farthest imaging engines
  • Optional Cold Storage version with touch screen

Zebra Rugged MC3300 Mobile Computer

  • Touchscreen/keypad combo with four form factors
  • Short, mid and long-range scanning (3 in to 70 ft)
  • Advanced scanning and document capture

Want to explore more device options?

Click here to view other devices, such as rugged and mobile barcode label printers.

READ MORE: Why automated data collection using mobile devices matters >>