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Mobility in Motion: The Great OS Migration

Thought Leader

Two years ago, when Microsoft announced that it would no longer support Windows CE and Windows Embedded Handheld operating systems, the need to act on this decision seemed far off in the future. The year 2020 was four years away. Action could wait, for the time being.

This decision affects 15 million mobile computers— approximately 90% of the enterprise computing market—so the impact reaches far and wide across industries. If you’re one of the companies that has relied on Microsoft for enterprise mobile computing and you haven’t yet made your choice, the time is now. The Great OS Migration has begun. Where will it take you?

Android or iOS?

Of the 1.2 billion mobile devices—consumer and enterprise—currently in use, 78% of them run on Android, 15% rely on iOS, and the remaining 7% are split primarily between Microsoft and BlackBerry. With these numbers, the choice narrows to Android or iOS. There are challenges with both choices.  Android certainly offers a larger population of software developers, but it has suffered from the security issues associated with its open source platform. If that problem were resolved, Android would present a distinct advantage over iOS. On the other hand, iOS is only available for consumer-grade Apple devices. These are enormously popular with consumers but have several drawbacks for organizations needing enterprise-grade devices. 

There are ways to mitigate the challenges of both choices. A fortified Android addresses the security issue. An enterprise-grade version of this popular operating system provides heightened security, with government-grade encryption that the consumer version of the operating system is lacking. As for the Apple devices, there are specialty cases that make them more rugged, but that doesn’t address the operational challenges (frequent OS updates, lack of IT control, etc.) inherent when trying to use consumer devices in enterprise environments.

The Great OS Migration Event

Ritesh Gupta, Sr. Manager Worldwide Technical Operations at Zebra Technologies, will lead a workshop on considerations related to OS migration for mobile computers.

June 14, 2018

9:00 AM – 10:30 AM EDT

Pittsburgh Technology Council

It’s not just the OS.

Your decision isn’t just the operating system but your hardware as well. As you migrate to an operating system for the long-term, you also need to consider the role of your hardware. A recent Gartner report, “Revisit Your Ruggedized Strategy Before You Hit the End of OS Support” advises, “start planning for an orderly immigration to a ruggedized device running modern OS—predominantly Android.”

The Gartner study recommended looking more closely at purpose-built rugged devices to determine the entire business use case, rather than trying to fit one device for all purposes. “In most situations,” the study suggested, “it makes more business sense to have devices that are optimized for the different tasks at hand, which might mean that you end up with a ruggedized portfolio of perhaps a smartphone-like device for casual scanning, a scan-optimized device and a rugged tablet.”

Today’s mobile devices—rugged handheld computers, tablets, scanners—feature faster connectivity, more powerful scanning engines, greater processing power, greater voice clarity, higher resolution imaging and much more. In addition, a rugged device will withstand heavy-duty handling, like drops on concrete, sprays of water and extreme temperatures. These features add up to a longer life, which reduces the total cost of ownership—which is the most accurate measurement of a device’s value and your investment.

What does it cost to wait?

If you’re using Windows CE/Embedded, you have some important choices to make. You can do that now or wait until time runs out and you no longer have security patches to protect your network. The choice of operating system impacts users, device choices, application accessibility and network security. You’ll need to allocate IT time to manage the changes through the OS migration and beyond.

By Ritesh Gupta, Senior Manager Worldwide Technical Operations, Zebra Technologies