By Chris Wright, VP of InfoMobility, DRS Technologies, www.drsarmor.com
With Android giving Windows a run for the money, it’s important to consider which OS is the right fit for you.
As an increasing number of businesses deploy mobile applications, there is more discussion of which OS to choose for rugged tablets. This is happening for a variety of reasons, including the need to integrate tablets and other mobile computing devices along with increasingly sophisticated applications across the enterprise. Many businesses today are examining, if not actively considering, Google’s Android platform as well as Microsoft offerings.
Microsoft’s Windows OS has the largest market share of established workforce, especially in the rugged computing space. Although Google’s Android platform is still nascent in the enterprise, the growing demand for Android is driven by innovation and new application development. Yet enterprises may be reluctant to adopt and implement these newer platforms because of security, support, and other challenges. Many businesses find themselves asking: Which one should we choose?
The Case For Windows
Tablets that operate in the standard Microsoft environment
enable corporate IT departments to utilize wellestablished
management protocols. The task of troubleshooting
efficiently and protecting against viruses is often
done remotely — an important consideration with a
dispersed, mobile workforce. Since IT departments have
greater familiarity with the Microsoft environment and
appropriate remote diagnostics, they are able to more
easily walk mobile employees through what needs to be
done should a problem arise in the field. This translates
to a more productive workforce, keeping costs down. As
well, a bigger pool of third-party developers continues
to create a large number of Windows-based applications
and tend to do so more than with a newer OS.
Additionally, there is a trend to move from singlepurpose
devices to multiuse computers that extend the
desktop into the field. If you are attempting to push
standard email along with viewable, editable, and usable
documents, then the interface with Microsoft Office programs
should be considered.
The Android Option
The Android platform is growing, and businesses will
see a slightly lower device cost. Another advantage is the
ability to deploy applications directly from the "application
store." Android affords more flexibility and customization
options to developers; however, at this time
a smaller Android developer community is generating
fewer high-level business applications. Developers also
are challenged with attaining support for older Android
OS versions, even though there have been numerous
upgrades and releases.
Making The Switch: Key Considerations
Businesses that are considering a transition from a
Windows-based OS to an Android-based solution need to
weigh issues like security, cost, and IT standards. Security
may be a particular concern, given Microsoft's long experience.
Businesses may be reluctant to change because
they are uncertain whether Android devices and applications
— which have bred from the consumer community
— provide the level of security they need.
On the IT front, the correct
version of Android must be
chosen, hardware drivers created,
and software rewritten.
IT departments also need to
determine whether the company's
software provider supports
Android and what is involved in
the migration. It's possible that
an alternative software solution
is needed, which increases the
cost and complexity of making
the transition. The cost to support
IT asset management tools
within the enterprise also significantly increases if the
tablets do not integrate with existing tools.
Android may very well become the go-to alternative for
some businesses, especially those that are sophisticated
enough to do both application development and OS
integration. Still, Windows is the OS of choice for most
enterprise applications. The highly anticipated release
of Windows 8 will likely be a game-changer that will
significantly impact rugged tablets. This OS will feature
a revamped interface with all of the security and legacy
compatibility that enterprise customers depend on. Users
of rugged tablet platforms, in particular, will be able to
take advantage of a new user interface that will marry the
convenience of the consumer tablets with the security of
an enterprise-worthy operating system.