Microsoft Breaks Cover on Windows Mobile 7.0

21 08 2009

Well at much as you could expect anyway!…..

….Microsoft has lost a lot ground in the Mobile Operating System market but has finally broken its silence regarding the next steps of its beleaguered mobile strategy. They’re not saying all that much about the OS itself, commonly known as the “Pink Project” at this time but what they are saying is that there will be an offering of two different versions of its operating system next year.

Microsoft has decided that it aims to sell Windows Mobile 6.5 to a large variety of handset makers, whilst working more closely with a more selected set of manufacturers to sell phones built on the new version 7 of Windows Mobile that has been several years in the making.

Windows Mobile 6.5 is a fairly interim update to the mobile operating system that was a knee jerk reaction to the iPhone and RIM effect that has hit Microsoft hard in the past 2 years. It’s due to sell mostly as an upgrade to WM 6.1 devices at first and we’re not sure how it will plug into the rugged market as yet.  Meanwhile Microsoft has been working to make WM 7.0 more radical, overhauling the operating system massively with the aim of matching the kinds of user experiences seen on the iPhone and Android. They’re doing this by using more advanced voice and touch interfaces as well as ensuring higher-end hardware is available to maximise the user experience.

Microsoft demonstrated Windows Mobile 6.5 at the GSMA Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. and the interim update to Windows Mobile will start arriving on phones in the autumn, whilst the radical WM 7 incarnation is penned in for launch early 2010.

I’m not particularly sure about this myself, running 6.5 and 7.0 along side will definitely make things harder for the developer community and will surely confuse the market further in my view but it will be interesting to see how it pans out.

What is definitely clear is that Microsoft has this one shot at getting Windows Mobile right now if it hopes to live up to its mobile ambitions. For years, the company has made too modest updates to the Windows Mobile operating system, which still has its roots firmly placed in the pre-phone Pocket PC PDAs so what is clear is that change needs to happen and soon.

In the last 2 years we’ve seen Palm go back to the drawing board, reinventing itself with the Web OS-based Pre, as well as a few follow-up phones already ear-marked for launch in the US.  The iPhone and Google Android have entered the market with nothing short of a storm and add to this Research In Motion has arguably done more broadening its already dedicated and loyal business user base and successfully capturing the consumer market and overtaking Microsoft in the process.

OK, so lets not forget that Microsoft is more than capable of getting back in the game and so far they’re doing it the right way. Key people have been moved into the mobile division including ormer server executive Andy Lees who is “Very” responsible for all those little Intel and Microsoft badges you now see in your server rooms, but probably most importantly former Mac Business unit chief Roz Ho has been poached and is apparently running a top-secret “premium mobile user experience” team responsible for some of the “Pink” work.  Microsoft also purchased Danger, a company that understands the teen-centered mobile market and successfully created the T-Mobile Sidekick for it.  Lastly lets not forget that the “Tell Me” voice recognition unit has also been heavily involved with the Mobile team as Microsoft see voice recognition as a key element to the Mobile user experience.

<h2>Hardware Strategy</h2>
Microsoft has finally conceded that the user experience is key to success in this market and it seemingly has the right people and right thinking onboard. However they also need to commit to a launch and stick to it as well as at least delivering on any promises made and this means that hardware will also be a key element to their success. Most of their competitors have favoured a more locked in hardware strategy but Microsoft took a much more “Desktop Approach” to their hardware, preferring to outsource to key players whilst dictating a minimum requirement or specification for each version of Windows Mobile. Some of these hardware manufacturers have worked out and some haven’t but if we look at the success stories more closely (namely Samsung and HTC) we’ll see that they still all heavily customised the interface to the point many consumers don’t even know they have a Windows Device.

We’ve all heard rumours from more than a few people that Microsoft is looking to enter the handset business itself but at this stage the company denies this strategy completely, preferring to make sure it partners more closely with fewer companies in order to produce more competitive devices whilst at the same time aiming to have its software run on the widest range of devices. Andy Lees and Bach have called this their “lowest common denominator” experience.

<h2>What Next?</h2>
Bach has already acknowledged that Microsoft simply needs to pick up its pace and close the gap again (CNET News – July 09). Where he also stated that things are taking time to get right but will be well worth the wait in the end! Other than this though, he hasn’t so far said much more about where Microsoft is headed than this.

What do we think here at Rugged and Mobile? Well we think its time for the talk to stop and the walk to start! Microsoft has been away for way too long and WM 6.5 will barely hold things together until the end of the year in our opinion. Whilst the mobile phone market may well adopt the dual OS strategy we’re not sure what it will mean for the Rugged market where hefty investment is made in expensive barcode equipment. These customers will need to know more before they commit and software houses need to know what they can offer before they tell customers which way to go.

What certainly is true though is that whilst Microsoft have got to get it right this time, there are a lot of Microsoft fans still out there. Some perhaps have got to know the iPhone a little more than they thought they would, but essentially if anyone can get both developers, businesses and consumers back then Microsoft can.

We wait with bated breath!


The Rugged and Mobile blog.

Plug and play with Socket Mobile

18 08 2009

Welcome back!

Rugged and Mobile are back with the first blog of the week just to let you people about our newest product range (yes, another one). This time it is the turn of American manufacturers Socket Mobile who are offering the highest level of mobile adaptability for data collection.

Socket has a varied range of products that include mobile computers, Bluetooth barcode scanners and Plug-in data capture scanners. The SoMo 650 range of mobile computers have the Windows 6.1 OS and offer affordable business mobility. An impressive antimicrobial version (650Rx) is also available for healthcare applications.

Socket also gives the option to add barcode, magnetic/smart card or RFID reading capability to all of their handheld computers, which can save you money! Connecting these accessories to your current PDA is done via the SD card slot and it makes scanning 1D and 2D Barcodes possible. We’ve tried the SD Scan Card here at the Rugged and Mobile HQ on a Symbol MC35 and it works brilliantly.

The Socket products will be on our site very soon offering you some cost cutting alternatives to mobile data capture in the enterprise end of the market.

Check back soon

The Rugged and Mobile blog.

The Biggest Range of Products!

12 08 2009

Hello everyone,

Sorry for the delay in our blogging lately, we’ve been quite busy with launching the site and adding one of the biggest ranges of products to be seen in our market. So far we have managed to successfully go live with our Zebra barcode and RFID printers and are ploughing through the Psion range which will arrive in the not so distant future. This is all good news and it doesn’t stop there, we can’t claim that Rugged and Mobile has one of the biggest product ranges without continually expanding it, so we can now announce that we’ve received our partnership status with Socket Mobile and will be offering their range in the near future. Watch this space for a blog about Socket Mobile’s products!

Recently at Rugged and Mobile we’ve been noticing a trend in customers being slightly confused and ill-informed about what products best suit their needs. Often customers contact us unaware of what type of barcode scanner they require, such as 1D, 2D, imager etc.

This is where we can help! Our commitment to tailored service ensures that after contacting us, each customer understands what products will benefit their business. Combined with our range of after sales services and bespoke software, we believe that Rugged and Mobile takes the pain out of buying in this often misty market.

Please feel free to browse our range of informative PDF’s that can help you understand the technology better and aid your decision-making.

Check back soon


The Rugged and Mobile blog.

Complete Motorola, Zebra and Honeywell Ranges Added to eShop

4 08 2009

Hi Everyone

Just a quick announcement to say that we now have proper product listings for Zebra, Motorola and Honeywell. We’re already partners with all 3 manufacturers and can offer in-depth knowledge about all of their products.

We’re working on the accessories right now, which will be added very soon.

Zebra gives us a real “rugged and mobile” (Pardon the pun!) printing option and we’ve also got some really nice printing software coming out soon that will allow for quick easy printing from any Windows Mobile device. True to our service lead roots, we’ll be adding the whole range of support options soon.

Motorola are the market leaders in the Rugged market and we wouldn’t be Rugged without them! We’ll try to get the prices adjusted soon so that we can offer a seamless hardware and support/service based experience to our Moto customers.

We also love Honeywell here at Rugged and Mobile and are really proud to add these into our offering too. Honeywell really excel at the top end of the market with the Dolphin Rugged PDA’s and the scanning engines are really great. Don’t forget that we also stock the “HC” Disinfectant ready housing options too.

Watch this space as we add more. Remember that if you can’t what you need on our website, then just ask and we’ll find it for you.

Keep scanning!



The Rugged and Mobile blog.

Honeywell Scrubs up!

4 08 2009

Ever since we first heard about catching viruses in hospitals, we’ve become more aware of our surroundings, ensuring cleanliness is kept high up the priority list. As more and more mobile devices are used in hospitals, they bring a new challenge to keeping the ward or laboratory clean. A barcode scanner for instance can be moved room to room as it is used and a mobile computer could easily carry germs, harbouring them in all of its little cracks and crevices! This means ensuring all equipment used on the wards are cleaned regularly, which in turn creates its own problems of wear and tear.

Honeywell has addressed this concern by producing a disinfectant ready housing for three of its main products. The 4600g, the 4820 and the Dolphin 9900 all now come with this option, termed under the “HC” series.

The casing of these products is a little different to the standard rugged cases. Marked out by its light cream colour the HC case is designed to withstand harsh cleaning products used regularly on everyday devices used on the wards. Standard casings are unable to withstand certain chemical cleaning products for long and are susceptible to cracking after repeated exposure that can bring along more issues such corrosion of electronic circuitry and potential electrical fires resulting from this cracking of casings. HC cases on the other hand are made from a different material that helps to prevent bacteria from hiding in the first place and one which is extremely resilient to the daily cleaning they will encounter in a hospital.

Before this casing was developed, healthcare professionals tended to put data collection devices in plastic bags in order to keep them clean and reduce the risk of spreading infection. This not only affected the scanning performance of the device but also brought obvious workflow difficulties with it reducing the working efficiency of staff working on the wards.

This is a great step forward for Honeywell, with healthcare being a large and continued heavy adopter of data capture and the HC casing technology provides a “healthcare ruggedness” to already great devices.

The Rugged and Mobile blog.

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