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December 15, 2016

Mobile Operating Systems Crossroad?

Interesting situation with mobile operating systems in the industrial and enterprise space. For many years, Windows Mobile (later named Windows Embedded Handheld) was the OS of choice, but then Microsoft stranded it. The industry hung in there with the abandoned mini OS for a number of years, but then slowly began looking at Android as a replacement. But now, just as Android is gathering steam in industrial handheld markets, Microsoft finally introduced a Windows Mobile replacement in Windows 10 IoT Mobile Enterprise (what a name!). So major rugged and enterprise mobile hardware vendors are beginning to offer devices that support both of those operating systems (the latest is the Zebra TC70x.

Obviously this situation requires some detailed analysis. The rugged handheld devices market isn't huge, but according to VDC we're still talking several billion dollars, not exactly spare change. In many respects, Android has been its own worst enemy with version fragmentation and emphasis on consumer markets, but as of late the platform has made significant strides in becoming more acceptable to enterprise users. On the Redmond side, Microsoft's neglect of its erstwhile market-leading mobile platform and lack of serious follow-up on the final feasible version (6.5) may well have driven many customers to take a wait-and-see approach to any mobile version of Windows 10.

What does make Windows 10 IoT Mobile Enterprise interesting is the different approach Microsoft is taking with Windows 10. Instead of having different versions of Windows for different markets, this time Microsoft is using a "unified core" that's common to all versions of Windows. That doesn’t mean there’s just one Windows that runs on every type of device. That wouldn’t make sense given the great variety of devices and their variations of purpose, size and resources. But under Windows 10 there is a common core with each family of devices then adding suitable features to that core. In principle, that means that developers don't have to write different code for different Windows devices. If that turns out to be feasible, it is a major selling point for Windows 10 IoT Mobile Enterprise.

And it means that those in the mobile computing hardware business need to watch that situation very, very closely.

Posted by conradb212 at 04:08 PM | Comments (0)