Blog

Goodbye Windows Mobile

An article from the field of software development, projects
Jan Hosemann
04.12.2018
Jan Hosemann

Windows Mobile failed officially.

Not only, that Microsoft wasn´t able to establish one of its mobile operation systems as a serious alternative to Google’s Android or to Apple´s iOS, Android even replaced Windows as the most used OS in the world in 2017 (statcounter.com). By the end of 2019 Microsoft will shut down the mainstream Support for Windows Mobile 10 and Microsoft will get more connected to Android, in order to avoid to disappear from the mobile market.

The situation looks critical in the industrial sector. In many companies, industries and in logistics, robust mobile devices – partly with an integrated, physical scanner – that are based on a mobile OS by Microsoft like “Windows Embedded Handheld” or “Windows Embedded Compact” (former Windows CE) established years ago. For those OS´s the extended support by Microsoft will also be discontinued during the next few years. So what does an expiring support of an OS for companies mean, who actually run their business app on such an affected device? Is the redevelopment for another OS necessary? Or can the app still be used?

First of all the dying support means, that many mobile devices based on Windows, as well as proper accessories and spare parts, will no longer be available. Another point is, that new features will no longer be developed for the OS – it will only receive the necessary security patches until the official end of its product lifecycle has come. Continuing to use an OS after the end of its official support is possible, but cannot be recommended. Software that won´t be maintained ages fastly – just like the corresponding device. So it´s only a matter of time until problems will arise due to compliance and security risks.

mStrand on the Handheld-Computer MC75A by MotorolamStrand on the Handheld-Computer MC75A by Motorola

Nowadays, new software solutions for such devices should be based on Android instead. That’s why many manufacturers of such devices like Honeywell or Zebra already reacted and started to create devices that are based on Android. In order to avoid the named risks, existing software solutions based on Windows Mobile should be investigated soon and possibly be migrated to Android as well. Plus, from a technical point of view, the development for Android compared to Windows is “easier” what makes it cheaper.

That´s why we´re currently working on the redevelopment of the “mStrand”-App, which was originally built for mobile devices like the MC75A by Motorola based on Windows Embedded Handheld 6.5, for Android. What a welcoming occasion to combine the redevelopment of the app with a redesign! The migration of an app to another OS should rather be considered as a fine chance to refactor the eventual outdated UX/UI of the app, in order to optimize productivity and finally to increase profit. As explained on the example of the mStrand-App, which is now called “Strandservice”, we will show what potential such a migration might offers.

Redesign in the course of migration

Menu of the Windows-App and of the new Android-AppMenu of the Windows-App and of the new Android-App

First of all, the interaction itself with the application has to be considered. While it is usual to interact with such devices via pencil or a physical keyboard, we´re now switching to a usual touch display known from the consumer area.

Taking a look at the app for Windows, it can be identified easily, that the user interface looks rather outdated and overloaded compared to known modern apps. The main menu of the Windows app is one single view displaying all available navigation points, while the dashboard of the application for Android has been optimized so that the most important features like the booking process of “Strandkörbe” and the buying of articles can be accessed quicker than other features. The main menu of the Android app has been realized as a typical sidebar (“Navigation Drawer”) known from Android. This way, navigation targets can be reached quicker and unnecessary steps will be omitted.

Booking process of the Windows-App and of the Android-AppBooking process of the Windows-App and of the Android-App

In general, the Android version of the app looks neat and clean compared to the Windows version, since there are less redundant interactions possible on one single view. Due to the improved navigation and the optimized structure of the menu, the general UX/UI has been improved, what likely will result in the saving of time and costs in the long term. The refactored view of the booking process or the shopping cart are further examples of simplified interactions.

Shopping cart of the Windows-App and of the Android-AppShopping cart of the Windows-App and of the Android-App

Comparing both the selection views of the “Strandkörbe”, it can be recognized that next to the general modern look & feel of the Android app, the user interface has further been improved (e.g. a more explicit multi-select). Another general advantage of Android as an OS is it’s widely spread user dimension. Because so many people are used to Android from their everyday lives, the training period of the new app can also be shortened.

"Strandkorb"-Selection of the Windows-App and of the Android-App

Result

Companies should care about the migration from Windows Mobile to Android preferably before the official support by Microsoft will be discontinued. This way a supply bottleneck, as well as an unnecessary security risk, can be avoided. In order to stay competitive in the long term, there is no way around the migration to another OS anyway.

In the course of the migration, a redesign of the app should be considered. So the switch to another OS is actually a valuable chance for companies to improve their business app in order to save some time and money!

We would be happy to assist you too in your own migration process from Windows to Android!

Interested in our work? Contact us!

You'd like to start a software project with us or talk about your idea for a start? Drop us a note; we're happy to answer all your questions.

Non-binding project request

Which services do you need?