Most field computer customers purchase a handheld with a single use planned and implemented, and usually customers determine the application long before they purchase the device. However, once the device is deployed and the field workforce is carrying it every day, it makes sense to utilize more of the handheld’s multi-use capability and increase its value to the business. Customers often consider adding additional applications like basic mapping, time and work management, or messaging to their field workflow.
Windows® Embedded Handheld (previously Windows Mobile, Pocket PC, etc.) and other Windows CE-based operating systems have a long history of use in field computing. Over the years, these Windows operating systems have been used in business and consumer devices, from gas pumps to mobile phones. Alongside these devices, a marketplace in which developers could sell their platform-specific applications emerged. Eventually, Microsoft’s use of these operating systems for smart phones was discontinued and it transitioned to the Windows Phone operating system in 2011.
As the consumer mobile device industry exploded in size, powerhouses Google, Apple, and Amazon began selling apps directly from devices. Many online application stores began to focus only on the consumer operating systems and Microsoft finally shuttered the Windows Mobile online store in 2012 in favor of a store based on the new Windows Phone operating system.
For industry, however, Windows Embedded Handheld and Windows Mobile devices continue to sell at a growing pace and the operating system continues to be developed and improved. New devices—everything from point-of-sale systems to rugged field computers—are surfacing as well. So where does a business get an app for these devices?
There are still app stores that sell Windows Mobile applications. I would recommend to use your own discretion when using these sites and to check device/version compatibility. There are also several other sources for these apps, including the following:
- Handmark – On this site, I found a useful application that will use a device’s camera to make a PDF of a document.
In some instances you will have to choose a consumer device that closely matches the operating system. By far though, the most important source for industrial and business applications has been, and remains, the software vendor. The ISV (Independent Software Vendor) community for Windows Embedded applications is very active.
Here are several application development platforms:
- Mobile Frame
- Mobile Epiphany
- Iambic – a time tracking software for Windows Mobile
Smart phones and consumer tablets may have branched off into their own world of applications and marketplaces and created massive industries of their own, yet the industrial and field computing markets continue to produce solutions tailored for the field worker.
While you may not be able to find Pandora or Angry Birds for your Mesa® Rugged Notepad, there are many companies that produce solutions for your workforce, should you decide to add additional functionality to your rugged handheld. To learn more about Juniper Systems rugged handhelds, send us an email or give us a call at 435.753.1881.
What other sources have you found for Windows Embedded Handheld applications? Share with us in the comments below.