Enterprises Migrate To Android As Windows Handheld Support Reaches End Of Life

By Steven Lerner

For years, Windows prevailed as the most ubiquitous operating system for rugged devices and handheld computers. Step into any manufacturing factory floor, warehouse, or even medical facility and chances are there would be legacy rugged Windows mobile devices in operation.

However, that’s beginning to change. Support for Windows legacy operating systems will soon come to an end. In fact, certain Windows handheld operating systems began reaching the end of life phase since June 2018. By July 2019, Windows Embedded 8.1 Handheld attained end of life. In January 2020, Microsoft will drop support for Windows Embedded Handheld 6.5.

Although enterprises can continue to access these operating systems after the end of life date, there is an incredible risk. Security updates will be discontinued, which would leave devices vulnerable to data leakage. Resources and articles will no longer be available. More importantly, support will completely cease for these operating systems.

For organizations using these legacy Windows operating systems on handheld devices, end of life could be a potentially hazardous experience. Before 2020 is here, it is critical to migrate to devices that run on different operating systems.

Looking To Android

As organizations look to modernize their technologies, Android has become the top operating system for rugged devices. As of June 2019, Android is the most popular operating system in the world, which means there’s a good chance that your employees are already familiar with it. This should reduce the time it takes to get accumulated with the new devices.

Android’s rugged and handheld devices offer several promising features, such as advanced APIs and security capabilities. It is also easy to develop applications on Android, and there are some legacy mobile development tools that are compatible with Android.

To make Android work in the enterprise, it is imperative to leverage mobility management solutions that work with the new operating system.

Time To Plan

January 2020 is right around the corner. If your enterprise still uses handheld devices with legacy Windows operating systems, it is time to plan and make the right adjustments before it’s too late. This planning will likely include replacing your handheld and rugged devices.

The process of deploying new devices and software can be time-consuming, resource-intensive, and complicated. From reviewing new devices to getting approval for purchasing them, this can be a treacherous time.

It is also important to communicate to the mobility team about the transition away from Windows devices. During the review period, the mobility team needs to be able to test the new operating system with the new devices. If your organization is transitioning into Android handheld devices, there should be an evaluation period to see if your current mobile apps are compatible with the new operating system. Apps on Android devices typically maintain different functionalities and offer a new user experience.

Before rolling out the new handheld devices, mobility leaders should consider how many are needed for the organization. The deployment itself could also be complex, especially if an organization has thousands of field service employees who depend on these rugged devices.

Each new device needs to be properly provisioned and enrollment needs to be seamless. During device deployment, there needs to be consideration for security, and tools to troubleshoot potential problems.

It is critical that enterprises leverage a mobility management solution, such as from 42Gears Mobility Systems, which automates the enrollment process, troubleshoots devices remotely, provides real-time diagnostic updates, and administers security policies. It is a great fit for managing rugged devices, both Android and Windows.

Surviving the end of life for legacy Windows support for handheld devices might be complicated, but the right rugged device management solution can make a difference.

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