Windows Embedded Business: Aligning Handheld Terminals and Ruggedized Devices

Sooner or later, we’re all asked: “What do you do for a living?” And it isn’t always easy to answer.

My official title is senior product manager at Microsoft’s Windows Embedded Business. Seems pretty generic, right? Maybe not. The fact is, my team and I oversee software platforms that you see or use probably every day of your life.

When you’re out shopping, chances are you’ve seen store employees using devices to price merchandise or assist you in checking you out. Received a package recently? The delivery person probably scanned it with a similar device. The people responsible for tracking inventory in a warehouse are also using a device to help manage their business. In any case, these devices are known in my world as ‘handheld terminals’ or ‘ruggedized devices’ because they’re built to be used in adverse environments and industrial settings. Millions of these devices are used all over the world in the situations I’ve mentioned before and many, many others.

Motorola MC55 EDA
Motorola MC55 EDA

At Microsoft, we create the software solutions that power many of these handheld terminals and ruggedized devices. Currently, Microsoft partners such as Motorola, Intermec and Honeywell, are making devices for their customers using either Windows Embedded CE or Windows Mobile. Both are great operating systems that power a range of devices with industry-specific applications.

Up until now these two operating systems resided in different business groups at Microsoft. The Windows Embedded Business (WEB) has overseen Windows Embedded CE, while the Mobile Communications Business (MCB) managed Windows Mobile.

That’s changing. To help us better meet current and future customer needs, today we’re announcing that handheld terminals and ruggedized devices will be part of the Windows Embedded Business. For our customers, this move provides them with closer connection between the Windows Embedded CE and Windows Mobile product line enabling Microsoft to respond to their business needs in a more unified way. WEB is adding this effort to its overall strategy and vision as we’re committed to help specialized device manufacturers deliver rich user experiences and seamless connections to the world of Windows.

When it comes to mobility at Microsoft, there are two distinct product groups: one focused on the handheld terminal and ruggedized devices industry (WEB), and one committed to the mobile phone needs of customers for all types of end users (MCB). The Windows Embedded CE and Windows Mobile platforms play a critical role to enable handheld terminal deployment in several sectors including government, retail, logistics and healthcare, and we’re committed to addressing current and future needs of these industries.

We decided to make this move for a variety of reasons. First, Windows Embedded’s strength and experience in building software for specialized devices make WEB the ideal group to lead the handheld terminal and ruggedized device space. Second, with the transition of support to WEB, Microsoft gives the handheld terminal and ruggedized device products a holistic roadmap across both platforms and into the future. MCB will continue to focus on the mobile phone needs of customers with Windows Phones.

Our partners are excited as we are about this move and committed to delivering rich experiences on these software platforms:

  • “As Microsoft transitions its Windows Mobile 6.5 for ruggedized devices and handheld terminals to their Windows Embedded Business unit, we are partnering with Microsoft to help us better serve our enterprise customers and partners. We anticipate Motorola working very closely with Microsoft to define future offerings tailored to enterprise customers.” – Jerry McNerney, vice president, mobile computing product management, Motorola enterprise mobility solutions, Motorola
  • “Microsoft has been a long-time strategic partner of Intermec in helping deliver its rugged mobile business solutions, which seamlessly integrate with Microsoft operating systems and development tools. With this sharpened focus on mobile enterprise capability we expect our relationship to continue to grow.” – Dan Albaum, senior director – strategic marketing, Intermec
  • “Common management of Windows Embedded CE and Windows Mobile is a logical and welcome move for Honeywell Scanning & Mobility’s business. Our customer base requires support of both platforms, thus a single point-of-contact and cohesive combined story reduces overhead on our side for serving our customers.” – Mark Schmidt, director, strategic marketing, Honeywell scanning & mobility

The future is bright for the handheld terminal and ruggedized devices
space. Our goals here are simple: build upon the already strong
partnerships we have, and work with our partners to grow the market
overall. Combining these two teams achieves that.

The best part of this announcement? It makes it a little easier for me
to explain what I do for a living.

Posted by David Wurster
senior product manager, Microsoft’s Windows Embedded Business