One of the most important operating systems that was at one time underpinned many enterprise mobility deployments is about to enter the last 2 years of life. Microsoft Windows CE OS End of Life
Long before iOS and Android Microsoft announced Windows CE in 1996. The OS was designed to operate satisfactorily on the small memory capacities of palm sized devices at the time. Although recognised by many as targeted at hand held computers many platforms ended up using derivatives of CE.
In the enterprise mobility market Windows CE, Windows Mobile, and Pocket PC are often used interchangeably this is in no doubt in part due to their common origin. This practice is not entirely accurate. You can read more about the history of Windows “CE” here. and Windows “Mobile” here.
A roll call of key Windows CE based devices used in the enterprise would generate a blog post of epic length, These are three of our favourite devices that were sold in large quantities all across the world into a variety of application areas including Manufacturing T&L and Retail,
A faltering mobile OS business hurt Microsoft for many years, although popular in the enterprise due to high adoption market appropriate hardware and plentiful development tools. Versions of the OS for phones had been losing market share since 2007.
End of an Era Key Dates
These EoL dates have been trailed by Microsoft for some time.
June 2018 – Windows Embedded CE 6.0
June 2019 – Windows Embedded 8.1 Handheld
January 2020 – Windows Embedded Handheld 6.5
So What Comes Next
For many users this will be something to discuss with their software vendor. The coming Microsoft Windows CE OS end of life may make little difference if the devices are working and no major system upgrades are planned. However as hardware itself becomes EoL and developer resource dries up it will be time to move on to something else. What that is very much depends on your circumstances, there is no one sized fits all approach. In a straight swap the top two options for many sites are clearly Android and Windows 10 but some may consider iOS.
Don’t let the Microsoft Windows CE OS End of Life get the better of your operation. Call us to disucss how we can help you weigh up the options and plan for the future.
Research firm Strategy Analytics projects Windows gaining share on tablets as enterprise mobility tablet adoption and the demand for a premium OS on tablets grows. The research sees Windows tablet shipments projected to hit 49 million units in 2019, a 120% increase from 2015 levels.
This would give Microsoft market share growth from the current 10% to 18% in the period most of the gain at the cost of Android which will fall from 68% to 58%, with iOS share staying at around 23%.
Get in touch to book a webinar or meeting about Windows based enterprise mobility devices.
This week Microsoft has been making available its newest operating system Windows 10. In the rugged tablet sector MobileDemand is introducing the first rugged tablets on Windows 10.
The OS combines the strength of Windows 8 adding in new robust security and productivity features. Including the Microsoft Edge browser, Cortana the digital, voice-activated assistant and apps from the Windows Store.
As one of the first rugged tablet providers to go to market MobileDemand is bringing to life Microsoft’s vision to empower all individuals and organizations to do more. The innovative range of rugged tablet designs provide complete mobile computing systems for enterprises seeking to improve operational productivity.
“Millions of people are already using Windows 10, providing feedback to Microsoft on how to improve the usability and functionality of the OS,” said Matt Miller, President of MobileDemand. “It’s proof how dedicated they are to making it the best operating system they’ve ever released and we believe it 100 percent!”
If you need to re-install Windows 8.1 you will soon find that unlike the good old days your Windows 8.1 product key is not likely to be found printed on a Certificate of Authenticity (CoA) label on the back of the unit.
So how do you find this 25 digit gold dust? This is not an exhaustive list of methods, if in doubt consult your systems admin. The key is stored in the Windows registry but in a binary form that is not human readable.
Was it on an Email confirmation when you bought the OS?
Ask the manufacturer of the unit as they will have the product key and product serial number on file. Serial numbers can be anywhere but often on a rating label or in the battery bay on more rugged units.
Is it printed on documents that were in that box you carefully saved (!) when the device arrived?
How Windows 8.1 with Bing is Different from Windows 8.1 Professional
Microsoft announced in May 2014 that it would launch a version of Windows 8.1 with a reduced set of features and capabilities. Clearly they are looking to allows OEM’s to compete with the open source OS’s especially Android.
No doubt they would like to emulate the reasons Android has remained dominant in the recent past especially in tablets:
Lots of hardware buy in from OEM’s.
Access to plenty of Apps.
Having something more attractive price wise than an iPad.
I am sure Microsoft will be happy if this expands their reach especially in areas where they have been hammered in recent years by iOS and Android. Even if it does imply another nail in the coffin of RT. Products are shipping already including our own rugged tablets the xTablet Flex 10 and xTablet Flex 8
Is it much different to the Windows 8.1 that you are already used to? No.
Key Features of Windows 8.1 with Bing
Lower price to compete with open source OS’s such as Android Chrome and Linux.
Internet Explorer and Bing search are the default browser and search location. Whilst the manufacturer cannot mess with them as defaults users can swap to others.
Users can load apps via the app store or load canned or custom desktop software as normal.
Want another browser – up to the user to download and install.
No “Side Load”. This refers to loading “app store” specifically “Start Screen apps” via non-store loading.
Cannot upgrade to 8.1 Pro or Enterprise.
Some commercial devices may be bundled with Microsoft Office or a one year subscription to Office 365.
Why do some Enterprise Mobility Users adopt Windows 8.1 Professional Instead.
Security and Management.
Bitlocker and EFS for file encryption and protection.
Custom applications loading and management.
Group policy – manage apps and rights by group.
Allow use of Hyper V a way of running Windows 7 apps.
Latest version of IE.
Windows 8.1 with Bing is similar to a tactic Microsoft used in the past to get users to adopt Windows Vista and Windows 7. Whilst these OS’s were crippled in some way 8.1 with Bing is a full install – hoorah!
Get in touch to chat about the various OS options to consider during your enterprise mobility project.
Cast your mind back five years Microsoft launched Windows 7 Barack Obama became US President and Avatar was the biggest grossing movie taking in $761m.
Things move very fast in mobility so lets take a look back at what were some of the top mobile stories of 2009.
This was an era when nearly a quarter of all PC sales in Europe were made up of sub laptop devices called “Netbooks” sporting mini screens and tiny keyboards. Rumors were swirling that Apple intended to bring out a device called “iSlate” a consumer grade breakthrough tablet to sell alongside the iPhone and iPod. Many commentators decided this was never going to happen including this hilarious article from PC World
As we all know the iPad was released in April of 2010 and some 200m units later the rest is history…
Navigation for the Masses
At the time Apple limited users to expensive options from TomTom or CoPilot. When Google Launched Google Maps Navigation a whole new functional area was born. This enabled Android users to use navigation straight from their phones and thus consigned many dedicated GPS navigation units to car boot sales.
Smartphone Adoption and Dominant Player Meltdown
Early in 2009 if you had a “smartphone” it was probably a Blackberry who had 55% market share in the US 20% globally and strong financials. If you were still using a plain cell phone it was likely to have been a Nokia who at the time boasted 41% world wide share. Later in the year one survey figured that 39% of people had a smartphone Blackberry still accounting for the largest portion of U.S. market share with 50% followed by Apple at 30% Palm with 7% and Android around 3%.
Adoption is now well over 50% in most markets with rates in some counties breaking 80%. In 2017, IDC expects that 1.7 billion smartphones will be shipped.
You all know what became of Blackberry and Nokia…
Android Goes Mainstream
It took a while to get off the ground but 2009 was the year Android went mainstream. All of a sudden it was obvious that the iPhone was not the only cool handset with built in music social media and the ability to browse the web.
The Motorola Droid got a lot of headlines and was a bestseller in the US but HTC Samsung and Sony all had success with early versions of devices on Android platforms.
Market share of the Android OS is now thought to be @80% worldwide…
We take this increasingly for granted but the development of mobile devices has led to huge innovation in battery technology to drive such features as LTE, Wi-Fi, Video, Cameras GPS and those huge bright screens.
At the launch of the Galaxy S5 earlier this year Samsung boasted of a 2,800 mAh battery that the company claims can deliver 11 hours of video playback or 10 hours of web browsing over LTE.
So what can we learn from the top mobile stories of 2009 ? Things change fast and innovation and good timing can often by key to the success of new products. If you are into crystal ball gazing mobile technology it may be safe to make a prediction 12 months out but 3 to 5 years is much much more difficult.
Get in touch to learn more about our approach to building effective solutions for enterprise mobility. No crystal ball needed.
What Everybody Ought to Know About Identifying a Mobile Computing Platform for Enterprise Mobility
Guest Post by Timothy C B Cox. I always have said the mobile computer like the smart phone is not much use without applications, and it’s true for all enterprise solutions which makes identifying a mobile computing platform for enterprise mobility such an important task.
But the platform does play an important part in the solution and should not be overlooked as just an easy decision because of our familiarity with smart consumer devices. Recently Apple reported a drop in product margin’s, but their pricing has not really changed. It shows smart phones are not going to get any cheaper anytime soon.
If anything consumer choice will be between the high margin expensive full featured hand-sets and the lower cost feature limited devices. Or putting it another way, choosing between high margin devices and low margin devices. Of course it’s in the interests of the vendor to urge the consumer to purchase the high margin product.
So future options are limited, I see them trying to protect existing product margins by releasing a new product with lower cost base. I cannot see them compromising flagship products in terms of quality or features being a route for established brands when they battling with each other for market share.
Samsung is currently being probed by the Taiwanese authorities for possibly paying people to post bad reviews and poor readability reports for the HTC One in Taiwan. The HTC One uses higher quality materials in its case design and Samsung is concerned they may get into a new battle where their material costs increase to defend against other products, and this would be an unwanted downward pressure on their product margins.
The Apple iPhone is generally accepted to be of high quality design and build. What Samsung fears is having to compete with another Android handset where the only real difference is quality of materials used in it’s industrial design.
Everyone selling is under pressure from falling margins!
Mobile Computing Platform for Enterprise Mobility
Rugged devices, though initially more expensive do last longer before being replaced, they are more stable in design and feature sets. Typical customers do not like unpleasant surprises, because their investment is larger and the time to reach their ROI is longer.
You shouldn’t expect rugged device makers to jump onto latest OS releases or design features their customer base has a predefined expectation of their products. If you look at Conical responsible for the open source Ubuntu Linux distribution, they have a two track release solution, a LTS or Long Term Support release and a general release. Think of their LTS release as the enterprise edition (stable) with the general release aimed directly at the consumer (with latest features).
Rugged device manufactures also work to the LTS concept but all their products adhere to the LTS concept! Where they commit to a number of years of support, service and updates for their platform.
Enterprise customers must get a stable platform to build their business; not to be distracted by worrisome and unimportant support and life cycling of the product. It allows customer’s to manage their mobility system over a known period of stability in terms of the platform, allowing them to build and plan their applications and solutions with very low risk along with favorable Total Cost of Ownership TCO numbers.
Buy a consumer device for use in the mobile workforce and you will be going through some sort of product and/or software refresh every year. Because consumer devices change with annoyingly regularity, to the delight of the vendors and retail stores, as it drains consumers wallets regularly.
In short, it’s not in best interests for consumer products to have a LTS approach, they rely on phones being replaced regularly to maintain revenues. Google likes to tell the market they have 1.5 million phone activations every day, but they don’t let on if these are existing users upgrading or new customers.
In April 2013 Google changed from reporting new hand-set activations to only reporting device visits to their on-line app store called ‘Play Store’!
So a LTS products may not have all the latest features and leading edge (or bleeding edge) options like consumer products. But they are what is called ‘stable’ releases, nothing is included that may have a negative affect on smooth running of the device. Be assured the LTS designed products do not suffer like some iPhone batteries have after a recent iOS update from Apple, and solved by two subsequent updates.
Imagine (as an enterprise user) having to manage, push and pay for (if pushed over 3G) an update to your mobile workforce. Not to mention dealing with users suffering from shorter than expected battery life, this happen recently with Apples iOS devices. Just because the vendor pushed an update to hand-sets automatically.
Get a new Windows Phone device, and even if you to use it in the enterprise, be ready to create a new Hotmail (Microsoft Live) account for each device. Use Bing to find out more! Something else to manage and filter and control and lock down and…
It’s not the incorrect decision to purchase a consumer device, all companies are at different stages in their cooperate life. Some have more important projects with bigger positive impact on their operations commanding a larger percentage of the available budgets. Some may not be able to afford the initial costs of rugged mobile devices.
No matter how you look at it, there is someone who will supply a product to fit your financial requirements, guaranteed! So I would go as far as to suggest that companies who can only afford consumer devices or think they are stretched too much to get into rugged devices should wait until they have the budget or consider leasing, because maybe they are spending their cash on the wrong kind of project and its better spent elsewhere!!
So don’t dismiss those who tell you ‘you’re making a huge/massive mistake by looking at consumer products’. Help them understand where your company is today and what resources and projects you are working with. It will save everyone a whole lot of wasted time and money!
Sometimes it’s difficult for people to understand why a company would choose what looks to be an inferior product. I would like to be driving a Range Rover and I could if I wanted, but I drive a cheaper 4×4 because my children are still young and make a complete mess of the interior. So choosing the cheaper car fits my situation today and I live with that decision and my car delivers exactly what I expect!
Timothy C B Cox Mobile Workforce Strategy Consultant based in Dubai. Get in touch with Tim through Linkedin
Call us to discuss how we can help you identify the right opertaing system for your enterprise mobility project.