So with an announcement of Windows Mobile 7.0 finally giving us an insite into how the new Mobile OS will look, what does it mean for Rugged PDA users?
Firstly let’s get the naming straight here. Windows Mobile 7.0 is going to be known as Windows Phone, partly in an effort to accept that there probably shouldn’t be too much difference in desktop, netbook and mobile OS’s in the future (Just see how Apple are doing it!!). Secondly it’s because they are now going to call Windows Mobile 6.x, Windows Mobile Classic. Not to be confused with WM 6.x Classic edition, this is a clear statement that WM6.x will be around for a while yet.
What this means for Rugged PDA’s
I already get asked frequently about WM7.0 upgrades, whether WM6.5 is worth getting and the response is that there are pretty much only 3 or 4 Rugged PDA’s with WM6.5. It pretty much has no major differences under the hood than WM6.x and even the changes it brought are pretty basic in my view. I think it will become the lost OS in the consumer market but in the Rugged PDA market it could hang around like a bad smell for a while.
I spoke to quite a few manufacturers over the past few weeks about their strategy for WM in 2010, especially accounting for WM7.0 and the answer was the same from all of them. Nothing was scheduled for WM7.0, anything new would have WM6.1 or 6,5, depending on the licensing they could get and they are mostly trying to drop C.E. like a hot rock.
On one hand, on a Kiosked device the OS almost doesn’t matter as long as you have good performance in a rugged, capable device that won;t let your business down. However on the other hand, No-one wants an old OS, and as WM7.0 becomes prevalent in the consumer market people will demand it in the Rugged Market. However how this will be addressed by the manufacturers who have genuine 5-8 year roadmaps for their devices will remain to be seen.
The trends we’re still seeing are a dramatic increase in iPhone development in the Enterprise market, and we feel the iPad will be akin to throwing fuel onto this and we continue to hear rumours of Android based rugged PDA’s. The old argument of both these OS’s not having enough development community to attack the business/rugged end of the mobile market is starting to wear thin and we just hope there’s something left when WM 7.0 finally launches.
The Rugged and Mobile blog.
Dave is a Microsoft .NET consultant, specialising in mobile and data capture.