Windows CE and Mobile RF products have been the go-to for warehouse scanning and data collection for many years. However, Microsoft over the past few years have ended all support, development, and updates for their Windows CE and Windows Mobile software platforms. Windows CE 6.0 end of support occurred in 2018, and in January of 2020 Windows Mobile 6.5 reached its end-of-life date. This means that companies that are still using this software have stopped receiving patches, updates and security fixes.
Why make the move from Windows to a different operating system?
Most might think, why move? If it’s not broke and the devices still work, why make the change? And you are right, in the sense of day-to-day operations a company can continue to use their devices and they will operate as they always have. However, there can be some serious ramifications for inaction and sticking with the status quo. To be blunt, an end-of-life designation on any software is just that, it is the end of that software. No more security updates, no more bug fixes, no more development to react to new security and cyber threats that surface. More importantly, no more support directly from the software designer to help you if you get into a bind and your mobile devices stop working due to a software virus, glitch or malfunction.
Another blind spot for Windows CE and Mobile users is that end of life software is highly susceptible to hacking and data breeches. Without the security updates protecting the devices from the most up to date threats, ransomware, viruses, and malware, hackers can use a mobile device as their entry point into a company’s network. This can grant them access to company records, passwords, and other sensitive materials.
If security isn’t enough, while Windows CE and Mobile are not update and upgrading, all the software around it still is. Other software will be reacting to what is happening with their updates and patches and some of these fixes could have adverse reactions to your devices that are not receiving updates.
What to consider with a migration to new software
The first step is to list out your current and future needs when it comes to mobile devices in the warehouse. Here are a few thing to consider:
- Functionality – be sure that the new devices can perform all the functionalities you need like connectivity, scanning and has the appropriate amount of ruggedness.
- Cost and ROI – Investigate the costs and ROI for the devices. Just like cars, there are economy devices as well as luxury models. Find that sweet spot for your operations that meets your needs today as well as into the future.
- Third party software – If you are running a warehouse management system (WMS) in your warehouse you will need to be sure your new devices are compatible. For instance, some WMS software could be limited to only one OS. Check with your WMS vendor before making any purchases to ensure compatibility.
- Replace as you go – Some WMS systems allow you to be on multiple platforms at one time. Meaning that you can have devices that are both Android and Windows in use on the floor at the same time. If you have a WMS that has this flexibility, you can employ a strategy of replacing devices as they fail. While not optimal, it can be a budget friendlier way of replacement.
- Custom Code – Does your current mobile devices run on custom code to meet your operational needs? If so, be sure that any new device can support customization.
- GEO Fencing – If you are going to invest in expensive new equipment, be sure that investment doesn’t walk out of the warehouse. GEO Fencing allows you to track and be alerted when your devices leaves its designated area.
- Warranty – One of the most overlooked items, be sure that the warranty is in line with your mobile management plan.
Migration to new devices and a new platform will take a good amount of planning and attention, but the worst thing you can do is ignore the problem.
Want some help? Talk with FASCOR’s device experts to get more information. Click here to schedule some time with one of FASCOR mobile device experts.