Windows® 7 for the Next Generation of Rugged Handheld Devices

With the explosion of smartphones in the consumer market, Microsoft is emphasizing the new consumer-oriented Mobile® 7 operating system (OS). This means that Windows® Mobile – the standard OS for many commercial handhelds – will enter the end-of-life stage in late 2010.  IT managers will soon be forced to decide which OS to deploy on their fleets of new handheld devices. Mobile 7 is based on an entirely new architecture and user interface; therefore, there is no migration path from the Windows Mobile platform to Mobile 7.

Another option that is gaining traction in many government and commercial organizations is to run Windows® 7. The latest generation of handheld devices, like the newly launched Toughbook U1 Ultra, runs a complete version of Windows 7. This capability allows IT departments to future proof their technology investments and keep mobile applications in the field for at least four to six years – compared to the average mobile phone platform of 12 to 18 months.

The benefits of a fully-capable OS for mobile workers in field applications such as direct store delivery (DSD), e-Citation and Public Utility services are immense. The ability to access comprehensive line-of-business customer and product information including legacy CRM and centralized floor planning applications enhances field productivity and helps companies gain operational efficiencies. A full browser Internet experience also increases the amount of content workers can access in the field and eliminates the need for customization, decreasing deployment and management costs. The integration of features, like cameras and barcode scanners, reduces the number devices workers need to carry and enables greater levels of data capture in the field.

Migrating Windows Mobile applications to Windows 7 is somewhat of a process; however, there are solutions on the market that emulate the Windows Mobile OS to run in a Windows 7 environment. This allows legacy applications to be used “as is” on a device running a full OS and creates a short-term migration path while more robust systems are developed to run on the new Windows 7 handheld devices.

To view an in-depth Panasonic white paper on this topic, click here.