The clock is ticking! – Windows Embedded end of life support

Due to Microsoft’s announcement for end of support for Windows Embedded,  industries are having to look to an alternative OS for their enterprise Apps and the most suitable option today is Android.  As a result, businesses will need to have their apps rewritten for a new OS before the deadline. This can be critical since there are so many devices used in regulated environments.

Here are the scheduled dates for “End of Life”:

  • April 10, 2018 – Windows Embedded CE 6.0 will be End of Life
  • July 9, 2019 –  Windows Embedded 8.1 Handheld will be End of Life
  • January 14, 2020 – Windows Embedded Handheld 6.5 will be End of Life

“End of support” means that Microsoft will stop issuing security patches and software updates. Any company still running Windows software on its devices will be left with no easy solution to defend their system from viruses, fix software bugs, or add new apps.

The clock is ticking for Windows Embedded

If you are running Windows Embedded systems today, it’s time to start planning the move to other platforms as you begin to replace your older handhelds.

Depending on the number of devices in your organisation, you’ll want to get your upgrade strategy in place sooner rather than later to ensure there is a smooth roll-out, as the final deadline in 2020 isn’t that far off, and the closest is less than six months away.

When you switch away from Windows Embedded, your apps will need to be rewritten in order for them to work on Android. It is here that the clock is really ticking, your apps may have taken years to develop, design, and test, and technical teams will need enough time to reproduce them.

Should you switch to Android?

Android is likely to be a frontrunner when planning your upgrade strategy as most users are familiar with Android’s UI on mobile phones.  Most operators can intuitively use an Android enabled device with little additional instruction.

Leading hardware manufacturers are undertaking a major push towards enterprise grade Android rugged devices – many resemble a robust Android Smartphone.

Enterprise-grade Android for rugged devices

Rugged device manufacturers have historically used Windows based OS (Windows CE and Windows Embedded) to power their devices, but with the end of life approaching, it’s worth looking at what Android is offering to business and rugged systems users. Nearly all handheld devices run on the Windows operating system, Fortunately, a new OS, the right devices and modernizing your apps before the 2020 end of extended support date will offer many productivity and cost advantages.

Why Portech for your Windows to Android migration?

25 years of experience in mobile enterprise app and software development means that our clients are confident in our ability to deliver a wide range of projects, from logistics, warehousing, retail, merchandising to field service and much more.

Contact us to get help selecting the best hardware and software to meet your needs, budget and future requirements.

0121 624 2626

Optimizing Field Force Operations

Optimizing Field Force Operations – A Solution for Today, a Strategy for Tomorrow


Field service operations is the backbone of all facilities-based communications service providers (CSPs). The effort to streamline this function has been constant since the first networks, more than a century ago. Over time, service providers found efficiencies through wireless communications. First, through the early two-way radio dispatch systems in the late 1940s; then, the first data dispatch computers of the 1970s. Mobile data handsets in the 1990s were followed by today’s high-speed, high-definition tablets. Through the software in them, and processes behind them, both have improved how quickly technicians respond, and how well-prepared they are when they arrive on the job site. CSPs must keep with tradition and endeavor to take field service operations to the next level, for three important reasons.





Portech ties up stock take for 297 year old wire manufacturer Webster and Horsfall


Webster and Horsfall, a 297-year-old Birmingham company at the forefront of wire manufacturing, has transformed its stock taking with a new stock management system from mobile computer solutions provider Portech Systems.

Responsible for the first ever transatlantic cable and based in the city of Birmingham, Webster and Horsfall combines its wealth of experience with state of the art modern technology to manufacture and supply the highest quality wire products for a diverse range of applications such as shipping, mining, oil drilling, orthodontics and green energy.

While manufacturing will remain at the core of its business model, the company has started a new venture into the distribution of steel wire and wire rope. With over 5,000 items of stock and a new diversification strategy underway, Webster and Horsfall recognised that accuracy of stock was of increasing importance, and needed to transform its stock take to improve visibility of products for sales teams.

Portech’s dedicated mobile solutions team developed a bespoke and flexible software for data collection that supported Webster and Horsfall’s custom business practices and used specific terms relevant to its industry. To speed up the development process, Portech complemented the new software with some tried and trusted communications modules that its team had developed over the years.

The software was loaded onto durable, ruggedised mobile computers with handheld barcode scanners from Unitech. Portech specified and recommended the devices, which allowed both touch screen and keypad operation. Portech also provided durable labels and tags attached to the wires.

For power saving, Portech implemented an SDK from the hardware manufacturer to turn the barcode scanner on and off when not in use.

The new system was piloted before being rolled out. As expected there was some initial resistance, however Portech trained employees to demonstrate ease-of-use. Once the staff realised that data collection would no longer be an arduous task, and information was fed into the back-office system immediately, they embraced the system.


Robert Horsfall,   Director at Webster and Horsfall commented: “We selected Portech as it is an agile family run business, just like ours. The team is friendly and personable, and very knowledgeable. The offer of a bespoke and flexible solution was something that we had not believed was possible, but with Portech’s specialist help we have transformed our stocking processes, which are now accurate, quick and smooth.”

The new system is saving Webster and Horsfall both time and money. Whereas previously, the whole site shut down for five days during stock take, now the work has been reduced to two working days, and the success of the new system has enabled Webster and Horsfall to conduct quarterly counts, and a new system is also being put in place for perpetual counts.

Sales teams at the manufacturer also have increased visibility and can track products easily to respond to urgent calls. Webster and Horsfall is therefore able to offer its customers a better service as can turn around orders on a faster basis. For example, if a crane goes down on port or construction site, the manufacturer can now locate and ship products quicker than before, helping to keep customers happy and improve its reputation as a trusted supplier.

The system has been so successful that Webster and Horsfall is now working with Portech to conduct perpetual stock takes, with a new version of the software being developed for the hand scanners that automatically checks physical and system stock.

Rather that quarterly stocktaking, sample checks will be made every week, and this new system should be in place by the end of 2017, with employees currently relabelling all bins with bar codes.

Vimto Out of Home Speeds Distribution, Billing and Stock Management with Portech’s Field Service Executive System

Vimto Out of Home (OoH), the 40-year veteran drinks industry supplier has consolidated its distribution, scheduling, billing and stock management with Portech Systems Field Service Executive (FSE) workflow management system.Following Vimto OoH’s acquisition of frozen drinks supplier The Noisy Drinks Co. in 2015 the company had been operating a combination of paper-based job management and a previous version of FSE developed for the frozen drinks market. Now, Portech’s new FSE serves all of Vimto OoHs mobile field staff and provides a unified view of stock, work and assets across all parts of the business.The new FSE system provides a centrally managed data collection point that communicates with Vimto OoHs range of mobile computing devices and eliminates the need for drivers to make multiple return visits to a depot each day. The system also integrates with Vimto OoHs Sage invoicing system and legacy IT systems, reducing the time taken to generate invoices and improving data quality.Additional benefits for Vimto OoH include:

  • Ability to handle between 850-900 jobs per week
  • Accurate records of stock, assets and maintenance history
  • Diarising scheduled maintenance calls and ensuring that they are made
  • Improved visibility over mobile workforce
  • Maximised active time for field engineers
  • Better information available to field based team

Graeme Hodges, Internal Operations Manager commented: “Portech is a great team. The support is perfect for our needs, very flexible and responsive. With remote access to servers and data, the Portech team can dial in very quickly and securely to help us service our customers.

“They really understand our business model and requirements. This knowledge has been built up over several years, and we trust them to deliver new features and functionality to improve our business processes with the bespoke system they have developed for us.”

The system has been rolled out onto Vimto OoH’s existing mobile and rugged handhelds. Portech advised Vimto OoH on hardware selection for temporary drivers and the FSE system also runs on the ruggedised ToughTab tablets procured for those drivers.

Shaz Naeem, Managing Director, Portech Systems, added: “We had been working with The Noisy Drinks Co. for over ten years and when the Vimto OoH team saw the effectiveness of FSE they recognised that it was the right workflow and stock management solution to help them grow the business further.

“Vimto OoH is just one of the companies that is benefitting from Portech’s expertise in transforming paper-based stock and work management systems with mobile technology that streamlines job management and eliminates the need to shut down operations for stock-taking.”




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