Farewell Windows Embedded Handheld 6.5, CE, and Windows 10 Mobile

Jason St. Jean

Did you know that Windows 7 isn’t the only Windows operating system going end of life? That’s right! You may have thought you were covered by having a Windows 7 to Windows 10 migration plan, but do you have a clear Windows Mobile migration strategy? If not, working with Microsoft is not an option, as they are sunsetting their entire portfolio of mobile operating systems. 

In 2020, Microsoft is ending all support for Windows Embedded Handheld 6.5, CE, and Windows 10 Mobile. Microsoft already stopped supporting Windows Embedded CE 6.0. On January 14, 2020, they’ll stop supporting Windows Embedded Handheld 6.5 as well. Devices running these operating systems, such as Zebra’s MCXX and Honeywell’s CKXX line of rugged handheld devices, will not be protected against security threats. This gives businesses relying on devices running most Windows mobile operating systems precious little time to respond with an iOS/Android migration strategy. Retailers and healthcare providers may be the most vulnerable, as they may fall out of federally mandated PCI or HIPAA compliance by not having the most up-to-date security patches. 

Related: Set your Deployment to Autopilot with Windows 10

The Clock Is Ticking

Organizations across all verticals are sitting on a ticking clock—and may not even realize it. Retail, healthcare, finance, manufacturing, and transportation/logistics organizations rely heavily on handheld mobile devices in their everyday business applications. Many of them are currently running any number of Windows mobile operating systems that are now going end of life—with no Windows option available.

The Sounds of Silence 

Let’s address some of the questions that many companies are asking. “Why didn’t I know this was happening?” Simply put, it wasn’t on anyone’s radar. Handheld mobile device manufacturers, like Zebra, Honeywell, and Datalogic, don’t have the same reach or voice to get their end users’ attention—as say HP, Lenovo, or Dell—when it comes to an OS migration. These behemoth OEM partners were integral in the propagation of the urgency around the Windows 7 to Windows 10 migration. 

Upgrading Is Not an Option

Next question, “Will my current Windows mobile device be able to migrate to Android?” In a word, no. Unfortunately, most of these devices have a chipset that is specifically designed to work with a particular OS. In nearly all cases, a complete device refresh is required. Some good news, though. These legacy devices may still have some worth after all. Both Zebra and Honeywell have device trade-in programs that will give cash rebates to companies that trade in legacy hardware—sometimes, even if it’s a competitor’s device. Fortunately, the partners in this segment have hardware and migration assistance solutions to help companies through this quagmire.

Jason has more than 25 years of experience in point of sale hardware and software. In his free time, Jason enjoys spending time with his family and dog. He also loves to fish and work on perfecting his competition quality barbecue.