6 Considerations when Replacing Legacy Windows OS Fleets with Ruggedized Android Devices

6 Considerations when Replacing Legacy Windows OS Fleets with Ruggedized Android Devices

There are a number of organizations who are still making decisions on when and how to migrate from their ruggedized devices that on legacy Windows OS to Android™ OS. Moving from legacy Windows devices is an opportunity to drive operational efficiencies by refining workflows, by leveraging the capabilities of modern mobile devices and providing employees a richer and more intuitive mobile experience.

In this article, we will consider several of the factors to consider when asking the transition from legacy Windows OS device fleets to Android ruggedized devices.

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Consideration 1: Seven Business Critical Steps for Defining A Smooth Transition

You can help ensure your organizations’ business continuity and minimize the cost of transitioning to a new OS following these steps:

  1. Know your in-house technical capabilities. Weight your migration objectives against IT staffing and the knowledge base that will be required to reach those objectives.For example, if you are planning to migrate the Windows code base to another OS, IT knows that it will be a formidable task to code or recode applications, debug the code, and get it up and running on the new operating system. Many IT teams will choose to supplement their resources with competent external IT resources who have the expertise to migrate legacy Windows OS to Android OS.
  2. Choose your OS. Microsoft recommends that on legacy mobile Window OS transition Android and iOS.
  3. Plan the application development/migration. Are you depending on applications that have been developed for Windows OS? App migration can be complex and expensive. It is mission-critical that you carefully scope and manage the app migration. Start by establishing the requirements that ensure full app capability with both the new operating system and devices. You will need to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of native versus web-based apps or a combination thereof. Carefully consider how improved productivity with the new OS/apps can make a difference in ROI. For example, cutting just 30 seconds off a scan-and-load operation can gain 250 hours each day in a warehouse that performs 30,000 daily scans.Again, this is where hiring external IT resources can make a big difference.
  4. Take inventory of your device fleet. Take a complete inventory of your current fleet of mobile devices and which OS they are running. Action needs to be planned for all devices running legacy Windows OS (e.g., Windows CE 6.0, Windows Embedded Handheld 6.5).
  5. Set budget and timeframe. Work closely with your mobile device solution supplier to define a realistic budget and timeframe for implementation roadmap. Be careful of short-term savings that result in negative long-term implications for business operations or data security.
  6. Review replacement devices. Review with your solution provider OS device options to replace your end of life devices. The solution you choose will have far-reaching effects on your business for years into the future. For example, Honeywell ruggedized devices on the Android Mobility Edge platform offers the longest lifecycle in the industry with support through seven Android releases, Android N to Android 13/T *, plus security updates for up to five years after Google’s last patch which is 2030.
  7. Choose and plan transition. Choose your devices and plan for a smooth transition and quick adoption by the workforce.

Consideration 2: Think Android Platform First, Ruggedized Device Second

All ruggedized devices running on Android are not the same.

Honeywell has been working with Android since 2011. We have made massive investments in Android engineering competency. Honeywell helps companies confidently select, deploy, and manage Android operating system devices and services. As part of the Google-led Android Enterprise Recommended Managed Service Provider program, Honeywell provides customers more confidence in deploying Android solutions and making sure their enterprise mobility deployment is consistent and current.

Honeywell provides customers with a comprehensive set of enterprise services that address every phase of the mobility lifecycle to help streamline operations and reduce IT-related costs. Honeywell globally manages more than two million devices such as smartphones, tablets, and ruggedized mobile computers.

Honeywell is one of the only companies that delivers both Android Enterprise Recommended mobile devices and managed services. Honeywell's validated devices are built on the company's Mobility EdgeTM  platform, a common hardware architecture and set of software tools that provide IT departments with an agile approach for deploying, managing, and updating devices.

Mobile devices built on the scalable Mobility Edge platform provide the latest security into the future, and extend product lifecycles by supporting current and future versions of the Android operating system. We have collaborated closely with Google on their Android mobile OS, and with Qualcomm® on our unique System on Module (SOM) design, to provide compatibility and support for Mobility Edge all the way through Android 13/T*. This is the longest mobile device lifecycle in the industry.  Learn more by reading the article: 4 Reasons to Use Honeywell Mobility Edge for Your Mobile Workforce.

What is Honeywell’s Android Platform? Honeywell has made it easy for our enterprise customers to migrate applications from one Android version to another. Honeywell has built the mobile device platform Mobility Edge. 

Mobility Edge™ is based upon extensive research gathered from Honeywell’s global community of customers from a range of technologies. Honeywell recognized that businesses wanted a unified hardware and software platform for all form factors – one that allowed for rapid deployments, robust performance, and adaptability to changing needs.

We completely innovated our approach to meeting the challenges of supporting a mobile workforce, and Mobility Edge was the answer. This unified, dynamic platform for mobile computing is designed to:

  • Accelerate Deployments. Validate once. Deploy everywhere. Faster, easier, and at lower cost. Enabling versatile out-of-the-box capabilities and a rapid provisioning suite, Mobility Edge expedites development, certification, setup, and training involving multiple form factors at once.
  • Optimize Business Performance. Boost productivity and drive efficiency. Powerful, embedded tools across the platform drive faster data capture and secure, enhanced worker communications. The unified, intuitive experience facilitates user adoption and helps employee’s complete vital tasks.
  • Extend Lifecycle. Forward compatible. Future-proof. Mobility Edge reduces TCO and minimizes headaches with an enterprise-wide approach to maintenance releases, and hardware designed to support ongoing upgrades to the operating system through Android 13/T*and extended support 5 years beyond that – much longer and across more devices than our competitors’ products.

Strengthen Security. Mobility Edge is designed to unleash you from the burdens of fragmented mobile computing. How? By providing a unified, dynamic hardware-and-software platform that offers an agile approach to enabling enterprise IT to deliver better mobile solutions across your business.  Mobility Edge has built in security at the hardware and software levels in the SOM.  Mobility Edge SOM is the foundation making critical security updates available into the future, committed through Android 13/T*.  Google Android only makes new security available via OS upgrades. 

Consideration 3: Five Questions to Consider when Choosing Ruggedized vs Consumer Grade Devices

There are five questions that you can use to help you level set whether to go with consumer or ruggedized devices.

  1. Do your employees work in a challenging environment? If you employ warehouse staff, truck drivers, store clerks – the answer is probably “Yes.” Rugged devices are specifically engineered to work even if dropped from a forklift or exposed to truck vibration.
  2. Is your staff exposed to a variety of environmental conditions? If your employees are regularly exposed to water, dust, fluctuating temperatures, and other outdoor and indoor environmental conditions, you should consider ruggedization. Rugged devices are designed specifically to handle extreme conditions.
  3. Do your workers need devices configured for your specific business needs? Rugged devices typically allow more OS and hardware personalization than consumer devices. Personalization allows devices to be configured to the optimal settings for your company’s unique needs.
  4. Are your device repair fees adding up? A business with 1,000 mobile devices spends approximately $170,000 more per year to support consumer-grade devices over enterprise-grade devices. That’s because consumer devices have a shorter lifecycle than rugged devices, which also translates into a higher cost of ownership.
  5. Do your employees keep sensitive data on their mobile devices? Consumer mobile devices are more susceptible to viruses and unauthorized access (your kids, for example) and are easily lost or stolen. An enterprise-grade, rugged device is more easily managed through your Mobile Device Management (MDM) tools. Honeywell does California Consumer Protection Act and General Data Protection Regulation assessments on our devices to ensure that our devices store data in accordance to these regulations. A consumer-grade device usually does not have such protections in place. Furthermore, Honeywell is diligent about its supply chain, both in software and hardware. With a consumer-grade device your sensitive company data does not enjoy such protection as oftentimes we do not know the source of software and hardware in devices available to the general public.

Consideration 4: Building a Business Case for Ruggedized Devices

At Honeywell, we are little biased toward the ruggedized spectrum. We have millions of ruggedized devices the world over in every conceivable environment and workflow within the supply chain.

Gartner says, “Ruggedized equipment tends to be significantly more expensive than commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) devices – typically 2.5 to three times more expensive, when comparing list prices. When doing a full total cost of ownership (TCO) calculation, ruggedized equipment often comes out as having a lower or equal TCO, due to its longer life and the use of a single device across multiple (shift) workers. Customers often focus solely on the ability of the device to withstand drops, and, as such, believe that regular devices enclosed in a case, at a lower cost, could suffice. This may be true in some situations, but many other factors need to be considered regarding truly ruggedized devices.”1

As the sensitivity and criticality of your corporate data becomes more valuable to serve you with a competitive advantage, so does the device that stores such data. Would you trust your most sensitive company data to an off-the-shelf, consumer-grade device?

Evaluate ruggedized devices based on actual requirements. Ruggedized equipment usually lasts twice as long as consumer-grade devices. Because the devices are built for longer life and durability, you can expect:

  • Connector stability. When you introduce new connecters, you also are faced with 1) recabling, 2) testing new drivers, and 3) the use of converters – all of which affect uptime and potential stability.
  • Software stability. The OS and firmware are stable, which leads to less retesting and certification work.
  • Component-level stability. You get predicable performance with interchangeable parts for faster, in-field repairs.
  • Entire solution availability. Accessories such as readers and printers remain available as a complete bundle for an extended period of time.
  • Additional purchases are feasible. You will be able to buy the same equipment bundle at a later stage to meet new requirements.

Ruggedized equipment is purpose-built for mission-critical situations and includes features such as:

  • A display optimized for viewing in bright sunshine
  • Screen response optimized for use while wearing gloves
  • A design that works well in a broad range of temperatures
  • A design that works in dusty, as well as damp, environments
  • A superior scanning functionality for barcodes, compared with camera-based options, which produces faster per-scan times and fewer rescans
  • Long battery life that usually supports an entire shift, exchangeable batteries, and multidevice charging solutions
  • Improved device survivability, which is important when employees depend completely on the device, and the cost of downtime due to a device failure is high

Consideration 5: What to Expect from Honeywell Ruggedized Devices

Honeywell’s rugged handheld computers provide multipurpose utility in an ergonomic form factor, driving improved productivity for your mobile workers and a lower total cost of ownership for your business.

Our handheld computers combine the advantages of consumer devices and high-end industrial mobile computers into a single rugged package. Like consumer devices, Honeywell devices are designed with the user in mind, and they provide targeted functionality, a tactical keypad, and enhanced connectivity. Because the devices are touch-based, they are more familiar to the user, which improves speed to productivity.

All of our Android devices are built on Honeywell’s Mobility Edge, a unified hardware and software platform for all form factors. It allows for rapid deployments, enhanced performance, and adaptability to changing needs. With Mobility Edge, a one-time investment in setup, deployment, and provisioning is reusable across all devices.

Honeywell is deeply committed to the longevity and quality of the Mobility Edge platform. The following products are built on the Mobility Edge platform: Honeywell™ CT40, CT60, CN80, CK65, and Thor™ VM1A, and VM3A.

You can expect to see the Mobility Edge family of devices continue to grow year after year. A brief overview of the current Mobility Edge family:

  • Honeywell CN80 mobile computer, an ultra-rugged device for warehouse, manufacturing, and transportation and logistics environments. The most durable handheld Honeywell has ever made, it features both keypad and large touchscreen interface for quick, efficient data entry.
  • Honeywell CT60 mobile computer, a rugged versatile business tool for highly mobile frontline workers in scan-intensive workflows in pickup and delivery, DSD, and parcel post. It offers a long-lasting battery, high-performance scanning, and exceptional durability and reliability.
  • Honeywell CT40 mobile computer, a full-touch, five-inch display device designed for retail, hospitality, and light field mobility environments. It’s an intuitive, compact productivity tool optimized for hours of comfortable use.
  • Honeywell CK65 mobile computer, a rugged, flexible solution for warehouse and manufacturing environments, with both touchscreen and keypad data input options for quick data entry and enhanced scanning read ranges of up to 15.2 m (50 ft).
  • Thor VM1A, the world’s top-selling vehicle-mounted computer, upgraded to Mobility Edge. Hits the sweet spot of overall size, display size, and keypad. The Smart Dock enables use on multiple vehicles and reduces support and maintenance costs. A field-replaceable front panel minimizes downtime.
  • Thor VM3A, designed for the toughest distribution center environments, manufacturing facilities and freight operations. In fact, it’s the industry’s most capable full-size vehicle-mounted mobile computer. The VM3 computer combines a 30.73 cm (12.1 in) display with breakthrough innovations that deliver rapid value for your workflows.

Honeywell’s Mobility Edge is a hardware and software platform that drives agile business outcomes – faster, better, with less cost, and less risk.

Consideration 6: Honeywell Marketplace Provides Software and Solutions for Android Ecosystem

The Honeywell Marketplace is an online platform that enables both Honeywell and our ISV (Independent Software Vendor) partner ecosystem to meet and collaborate to deliver solutions to customers in the industries we serve. This online marketplace enables customers to find, learn about, purchase, and deploy solutions that meet their strategic needs.

In the Marketplace, you will find solutions to address both simple and complex needs. Whether you are looking for solutions dedicated to DC/warehouse, retail, direct store delivery, or healthcare environments, we have solutions for you. You will find a full range of solutions in areas like security, VoIP, asset tracking, warehouse management, and much more.

Companies can search for solutions by industry, by solution type (developer tools, ERP, etc.), or by technology (mobile computer, wearables, etc.) and find a diverse set of applications to help ease their mobile transitions.

Contact a Honeywell Solutions Expert today! Call 1-800-934-3163.

1Source: Gartner, Revisit Your Ruggedized Strategy Before You're Hit by the End of OS Support, Leif-Olof Wallin, Stephen Kleynhans, et al., Published 27 March 2017.

*Honeywell has partnered with Qualcomm in the design of SOM, guaranteeing compatibility through Android 11/R, and potentially through 13/T. What does potentially/committed mean?  Pending any unforeseen design changes with Android 12 and 13, Honeywell with input from Google and Qualcomm, anticipate that with reasonable commercial efforts, SOM1 will be compatible.


Barry J. Ewell

Barry J. Ewell is a Senior Content Marketing Communications Specialist for Honeywell Safety and Productivity Solutions. He has been researching and writing on supply chain topics since 1991.