Technology August 11, 2017
technology | Warehouse Systems
As Microsoft prepares to end support for its Windows Mobile operating system, DCs look to the Android OS for a new generation of rugged handheld devices.
By Ben Ames
Mobile computing devices are a staple in the modern warehouse, allowing workers to perform picking, packing, and putaway tasks far faster than they could with clipboards and paper checklists. From bar-code scanners to touchscreen tablets and voice-directed picking headsets, mobile devices provide the speed and accuracy that DCs need to meet the demands of rising e-commerce orders and expectations for overnight shipping.
Change is in the works for all these devices, however, since nearly all of the computers in this sector run on the Windows operating system (OS), and Microsoft Corp. is planning to end its support for the versions of that software that are used on handheld devices. The Redmond, Wash.-based technology giant will stop issuing security patches and software updates for its Windows CE and Windows Mobile operating systems in a series of rolling deadlines occurring between 2018 and 2021, industry sources say.
After Microsoft “sunsets” its support for those popular products, any company still running that Windows software on its devices will be left to fend for itself in the constant battle to ward off viruses, fix software bugs, or add new apps. A few of the largest user companies may have sophisticated enough information technology (IT) departments to manage on their own for a while, but the change will leave most companies with a stark choice—continue to use mobile devices that will soon become obsolete or upgrade to a new OS.
For most DCs, the transition will require several steps. First, unless they’ve purchased new hardware recently, warehouses will need to buy new handheld devices that pack enough memory and computing power to run the next-generation OS. Then they can upgrade their applications and build new…