Microsoft could lose ground on rugged devices

Microsoft's operating systems are everywhere and inside all sorts of products. That includes being used inside what are known as "rugged devices". These products are mainly used by businesses who have to handle electronic devices that have to withstand a lot of physical stress, weather and other conditions. An Example of one such product is the signing pads used by many delivery services; they are also used by utility and medical workers.

The New York Times reports that Microsoft has dominated the rugged devices industry with its operating system for a number of years. However, there's a new problem. Those rugged devices are running on a version of Windows Mobile, which has not been updated for nearly two years. Microsoft has chosen to focus its mobile efforts on Windows Phone, which is aimed at the smartphone market for consumers.

So far, Microsoft has not announced any plans to release a version of Windows Phone for rugged devices. That could leave the field open for other companies to release rugged products based on Google's Android operating system. The report says that Samsung released a rugged smartphone, Galaxy xCover, in 2011 that ran on Android. In addition, many businesses are now using Apple's iPad equipped with rugged covers for various uses.

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Really?

The Mobile and industry specific devices haven't gone away. There are still tons of WinCE devices out there, especially now that WinCE hit 7.0. You can literally even STILL buy a WinCE/Windows Mobile Phone using the new WinCE kernel.

WP7 is the consumer product, not the only option.

Um, Windows 7 is available on rugged tablets, some that work damn well. We have thrown some off a three story building and can't even find a scratch on them.

Companies that are missing the option to move to Win7 tablets while waiting for Win8 have clueless IT people. It can run the existing WinCE software as well if they install the VM.

The pre-Win8 time is a dip for Microsoft in everything, desktop numbers, phones, tablets, and even some embedded product sales. This is to be expected, but the people picking something that doesn't work as well as what they are replacing is a bit silly, also not consider Windows 7 is silly as it is a great transition to Windows 8.

WP7 is not a corporate/business product, it is for users and the Android and iPhone crowd of people that found Windows Mobile too complicated. WP8 will be for both the consumer and corporate crowd.

Please, NO! I do not want to learn one more platform... C# for such devices is pretty enough.

Windows Phone will never go to the rugged devices like the ones Motorola Solutions makes such as the MC65, etc.

Slowly, customized versions of gingerbread are being worked on at the rugged manufacturers that will release this year and going forward. However, the primary push is and will continue to be windows mobile 6.5 until more than likely windows 8 for arm comes out.

The next microsoft upgrade path from windows mobile 6.5 to something else for rugged handheld devices has not been established yet, but at this point it still doesn't matter. Windows mobile is still being changed by companies like motorola solutions to suit their needs (for example releasing a new version a month or two ago) and the lifecycle for these devices are usually 5 years with extended support making them last around 8 years.

The enterprise and industrial software cycles are much longer than consumer software ones and changing from industry standard windows mobile to something else would be very expensive at this point and will only happen when android or windows 8 for arm is being shipped in large quantities.

joshua.barker said,
Windows Phone will never go to the rugged devices like the ones Motorola Solutions makes such as the MC65, etc.

Slowly, customized versions of gingerbread are being worked on at the rugged manufacturers that will release this year and going forward. However, the primary push is and will continue to be windows mobile 6.5 until more than likely windows 8 for arm comes out.

The next microsoft upgrade path from windows mobile 6.5 to something else for rugged handheld devices has not been established yet, but at this point it still doesn't matter. Windows mobile is still being changed by companies like motorola solutions to suit their needs (for example releasing a new version a month or two ago) and the lifecycle for these devices are usually 5 years with extended support making them last around 8 years.

The enterprise and industrial software cycles are much longer than consumer software ones and changing from industry standard windows mobile to something else would be very expensive at this point and will only happen when android or windows 8 for arm is being shipped in large quantities.

Take your first sentence... Wanna bet?

I am sure they won't be running on Motorola devices because of Google, but they do NOT make the only rugged devices.

WP8 is where the corporate products are once again addressed, and in the meantime, there is WinCE 7.0 that was released last year that is built and used and deployed on a TON of rugged and customized devices even Today.

So you act like, this market is no longer served by Microsoft, they offer: WP7, WinCE, Windows 7 Embedded as you are typing this, with an explosion of device support for the Windows Embedded market with Windows 8 supporting numerous devices and ARM technology.

So ya still want to bet? I can order you a WinCE 7.0 rugged PHONE today, that is a lot like WP7, but has no hardware interface or App isolation restrictions. One that has a camera, USB interfaces, and you can run over it with a car and it is waterproof to 20 meters .

Heck I can even order you an Windows 7 Embedded Phone in a rugged hardware profile.

Do you see how your first sentence is already NOT true today, and Windows 8/WP8 taking over the role of the WinCE and embedded products, it blankets the entire market this article is talking about.

You talk with some enterprise knowledge, but I don't see you 'understanding' it, nor do I see any experience or understanding of WinCE, NT Embedded, etc.

I bet you would are one of the IT people that knows a lot, but would be shocked to find WindowsCE is the OS of your Cable Modem.

Speaking with industry experience, a lot of the devices are still being manufactured with Windows Mobile 6 and 6.5

It's obviously not the latest OS out, but it serves all the current customer needs, as the customer does not use the OS directly, they use an application which is auto-loaded upon boot of the devices. This takes up the entire screen and also locks out the taskbar from being accessed, offers all the features the clients require, and until there is an actual "need" for these devices to have a newer OS, I doubt Symbol and all the other manufacturers will bother to update anything other than the hardware itself.

Hell, most of the label printers are still running off of Parallel and Serial, and all of the ones with USB are actually running on Parallel to USB converters, and the only fast port would be the network ports.


I imagine one day the OS will be upgraded, but as there is no actual "need" for it just yet, it simply won't be done. Regular consumers want the latest thing out, but warehouse staff don't really care so much as long as it works.

Also GPS units (dedicated non-smartphone or tablet) run windows CE and have thier application run fullscreen as well like JustinN said.

My mom's sanyo unit has windows CE and there is a miopocket unlocker that allows access to the full windows CE desktop. it works for other GPS units as well.

garmin and tom-tom run linux though. but magellan and some others like pioneer, sony, etc run windows ce.

I have been wondering what would happen to all those inventory, POS, and other hand held devices that ran Windows CE when WP7 was announced, they made it sound like there would still be a desktop like UI version of windows mobile based off the Windows Mobile kernel, but haven't heard much about it

but most of those things are custom devices with bar code scanners, finger print readers, mobile thermal printers, etc... apple will not take over that market that is for sure, they'd never let their product be used in a non hip product..... and android, well you'd have to rewrite all those custom drivers, and custom software almost every company had custom software written for windows ce..... so whats going to happen now

these devices aren't just "rugged" in the sense they are a PDA with some cover on them like the article seems to imply, these are hand held scanners, and other types of devices..... you aren't going to replace them by putting a cover on your iPhone or iPad and saying its the same...

neufuse said,
I have been wondering what would happen to all those inventory, POS, and other hand held devices that ran Windows CE when WP7 was announced, they made it sound like there would still be a desktop like UI version of windows mobile based off the Windows Mobile kernel, but haven't heard much about it

but most of those things are custom devices with bar code scanners, finger print readers, mobile thermal printers, etc... apple will not take over that market that is for sure, they'd never let their product be used in a non hip product..... and android, well you'd have to rewrite all those custom drivers, and custom software almost every company had custom software written for windows ce..... so whats going to happen now

It's called Windows Embedded Compact 7

Cyborg_X said,

It's called Windows Embedded Compact 7

indeed, Windows CE 7 is available since mid 2011, although I've never seen any device running it.

current users seems to be happy with windows mobile 6.x (CE5) and windows CE6.0 (like business users are happy with windows xp/ie6)

microsoft was supposed to release "windows embedded for handeld devices", a kind of windows mobile 7.0 (a windows CE 7 based OS with an UI similar to WinMo 6.5, with full unrestricted access to win32 apis and hardware). Apparently, this version has been canceled, since I didn't hear about it for a while.

but for rugged device, a vanilla windows CE 7 os is perfectly enough. No need for phone or PIM related apps since rugged device are used mainly for running a full screen business specific app on startup. That's probably why windows embedded for handeld device has not been released.

rugged devices have never been supposed to run windows mobile (a consumer version of windows CE5), they are supposed to run windows CE 6/7.

neufuse said,
I have been wondering what would happen to all those inventory, POS, and other hand held devices that ran Windows CE when WP7 was announced, they made it sound like there would still be a desktop like UI version of windows mobile based off the Windows Mobile kernel, but haven't heard much about it

but most of those things are custom devices with bar code scanners, finger print readers, mobile thermal printers, etc... apple will not take over that market that is for sure, they'd never let their product be used in a non hip product..... and android, well you'd have to rewrite all those custom drivers, and custom software almost every company had custom software written for windows ce..... so whats going to happen now

these devices aren't just "rugged" in the sense they are a PDA with some cover on them like the article seems to imply, these are hand held scanners, and other types of devices..... you aren't going to replace them by putting a cover on your iPhone or iPad and saying its the same...

I work for a retail data collection company and my scanner is a motorola branded one with windows CE 6. I hate it! the wireless connection manager sucks balls specially for hotel access points. the browser has no pinch to zoom controls or anything like that. the device is operated with a stylus and i think it has a resistive type display rather then capacitive. I wish it ran wp7 or android. oh and if your gut hits 3 buttons by accident (and its waayyy too easy to press the buttons) it initates a cold reset and you gotta setup the sound and wifi all over again!

my company is gradually transitioning to using company provided droid phones and they have some people that are testing it (software is wonky still needs bugs worked out) but hopefully they switch us all to it! I hate windows CE!!

remixedcat said,
; I hate windows CE!!

So...you hate WinCE because your device has a resistive screen, resets on button presses and has lame software on it?
WinCE is a kernel, dude. Even if you're talking about WinMo, it's just an OS.
If your keyboard doesn't work, do you blame your desktop OS too?

Aethec said,

So...you hate WinCE because your device has a resistive screen, resets on button presses and has lame software on it?
WinCE is a kernel, dude. Even if you're talking about WinMo, it's just an OS.
If your keyboard doesn't work, do you blame your desktop OS too?

no not becuase of the screen. it's because of it never keeps the sound settings between programs, it has completely arbitrary command consistancy , a horrible UI that's all over the place. the wifi manager is crap and never retains settings. I can go on....