Beyond Windows CE 2013: Transition Strategies for End-of-Life

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In 2023, Microsoft ended support for the pocket version of its system, Windows CE 2013. It is not a sign that all devices running on Windows Embedded Compact 2013 will suddenly stop working. Still, the lack of support will seriously hamper confidence in security and compatibility with modern devices. What steps should you take if you are one of those using the Windows CE operating system? Check out our article to find out.

What Is Windows CE and How Is It Used?

In the early 1990s, when people’s need to carry a computer with them gradually increased, and the then-current laptops were not very handheld, the idea of devices that are distant ancestors of today’s smartphones was born. Personal Digital Assistants, or PDAs, were compact and allowed for convenient taking of notes. With the devices’ appearance, there was a need to equip them with an OS, but the Windows desktop version was too power-hungry for such a small device, making it useless.

That’s why Microsoft created a simple OS for pocket-size PCs that would work on low-power CPUs. Hence, Pegasus was born, a 32-bit, project-based version that ran smoothly on multiple CPU architectures and was compatible with a QWERTY keyboard. On the 16th of November 1996, the first devices with Windows CE 1.0 appeared on the market, namely the NEC MobilePro 2000, Compaq PC Companion, and LG Electronic HPC. Since then, other versions of Windows CE were released, which were part of Pocket PC, Windows Mobile, Windows Automotive, ATMs, and even the Sega Dreamcast console. What may come as a surprise is that Win CE is expected to be continuously sold until 2028.

End of Support Dates of Windows CE 2013 Lifecycle

According to the top-down Fixed Lifecycle Policy, many products, including Win CE 2013, have a fixed support schedule. Mainstream support is in place for at least five years after the product’s launch. Some products can also count on a limited period of extended support.

For Windows CE 2013 Lifecycle, the schedule looks as follows:

  • Support start date: August 11, 2013.
  • End date of essential support: October 9, 2023.
  • End date of extended support: October 10, 2023.

As you can see, support for Windows CE 2013 reached an end of support many months ago. What should you do in this situation? The best way is to migrate to another OS before your product encounters a severe security or compatibility problem.

Handheld device with Windows CE held by a person scanning packages in a warehouse.

Options for Migration from Windows CE

What’s next? What should you choose after using Microsoft Windows CE for years? If you haven’t been following the market for operating systems for pocket devices and embedded systems for the past few years, take advantage of our mini-guide, in which we’ll introduce you to the functionalities of each competing system.

Windows 10 IoT

If you don’t want to part with Microsoft products, you can switch to the latest version called Windows 10 IoT. The new edition of the OS for embedded products beats its predecessor with a higher level of security and add-ons built on artificial intelligence. Windows IoT comes in two versions:

  • Windows 10 IoT Enterprise – supports multiple devices, making it the perfect solution for leveraging the Internet of Things at scale.
  • Windows 10 IoT Core – suitable for ARM processors and simple boards, such as Raspberry Pi, which will execute programs that do not require user interaction.

Switching from Windows embedded CE to another Microsoft product seems the most straightforward and logical solution. Still, you must be aware that migration will not be smooth sailing. Microsoft has announced features that will integrate outdated CE solutions with Windows IoT. But at this point, you have to expect numerous modifications of the legacy source code, as only 15% of the code from Win CE is compatible with Windows IoT.


A slightly easier option may be to migrate from outdated Win CE to Android. Your solutions will probably need modifications due to the adjustment to new devices with higher computing power and better performance. However, Android ensures that migration will be faster and more cost-efficient than other options. The users may be surprised, as many already use Android on different devices, so changing to a well-known and popular system will not be shocking.

Embedded Linux

If you want software with a dedicated community behind it, consider migrating from Win CE to Embedded Linux. Among the numerous advantages of this software are access to source code, a strong and helpful community, compatibility between Linux and Windows drivers, and easy access to qualified Linux engineers. The only drawback is the multitude of licensing agreements, which are specific to any open-source solution.

Migration Assistants

Have you gone through all of the above options, and the thing that scares you the most is the need to adapt legacy code to modern approaches? Fortunately, some solutions allow you to avoid completely redeveloping your system. The .NET-based framework Xamarin will help you adapt your product to the Android environment. Mono will ease the transition from Win CE to Linux, and the Qt framework for embedded apps is compatible with Win CE, Linux, and Android. With their help, you will go through the migration from CE to other OSes almost effortlessly, but using them as intermediate layers will negatively affect performance.

Upgrade of the Legacy System – Why is It Important?

They say it’s not worth touching if it works. But do you want to frantically seek help when your outdated system reaches the end of its life? Learn the top reasons why you should consider switching from obsolete software to a modern and actively supported solution:

  • Lack of technical support – in case of a malfunction, you have no way to direct a request to technical support or obtain patches for faulty functionality. You are left alone with the knowledge you have gained from using Win CE, which, at some point, will become insufficient.
  • Security gaps – a lack of new security updates will make your product more vulnerable to hacking attacks. If you use a system that lacks security patches, users will move away to better-secured competitors.
  • Compatibility issues – a system no longer supported by its manufacturer loses its chance of being in a high place in the modernity battle. Windows CE-based hardware will no longer be an attractive choice for users, and software without the ability to integrate with new solutions on the market will not make life as easy as a regularly developed product.

We hope that the thought of staying with Windows CE after it reaches EOL gradually fades, and you feel a surge of energy to act on the idea of developing your products on universal and timeless alternatives.

Migrate from Windows CE with the Help of Seasoned Scalo Engineers

Although Win CE is no longer supported, we won’t leave you facing the challenge alone. If you want substantive and technical assistance in changing an outdated system to an actively supported solution, contact Scalo. We will thoroughly review your resources and verify the available options. During the consultation, we will gladly learn about your needs and product development plans.

We will do our best to make the change from the well-known Windows CE to the newer operating system fast, inexpensive, and as little problematic as possible. Convince yourself of this now by scheduling a call with Scalo!

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