Navigating the Transition: A Migration Guide from Windows CE to Modern Platforms

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Windows CE’s best years are over. In October 2023, Microsoft ended the period of extended support for the pocket version of its popular OS. The best way out of this situation is to migrate to another operating system for embedded applications. It’s worth carrying it out before you encounter a problem you can’t handle without the assistance of any longer available technical support. How can you tackle the topic of migration and choose the best Windows embedded CE replacement for your solution? Check out our recommendations in the article.


Windows CE is an operating system that has existed in the IT industry since the 1990s. It was created for the first mobile computers, but over time, Win CE also found its use as an OS for embedded systems. Nowadays, in the era of rapid development of industrial automation and IoT, you will find many competitors of Win CE on the market, which, against their background, presents itself as outdated and unsuited to modern needs.

That’s why Microsoft has decided to announce the end of life of this legacy system and create dedicated solutions, such as Windows 10 IoT Core and Enterprise. Besides Windows, other giants such as Android and Linux have been developing their software for years, successfully adapting them to embedded, IoT, and industrial automation technologies.

Windows CE Migration: Technical Overview

Windows CE and Windows 10/11 IoT are not 1:1 solutions, so whether you decide to stay with Microsoft products or switch to another popular competitor, you will have to face the migration process to another system. For this to be successful, it’s crucial to find out which of the available platforms will be most compatible with your systems, devices, and applications.

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Considerations for OS Migration or Modernization

To make the transition from outdated Windows CE to Windows 10 IoT or any other popular system as unproblematic as possible for you, we have prepared a set of issues you need to consider before you make a final decision on your target system. First, check the compatibility of the OSes you have on the list with the hardware they will run on. Next, evaluate the potential of each new platform in terms of basic and advanced security. For example, Android, the most popular operating system among mobile users, is also the most attacked technology.

In addition to security issues, the customization possibility of the chosen OS is equally significant. The high flexibility of the software allows you to customize it according to users’ habits and make it as little different as possible from the previous solution by being able to install add-ons that, for example, allow it to be compatible with other devices. You can also be guided by the preferences of your solutions’ users based on a direct survey of their likes or suggested by publicly available statistics.

Comparative Analysis of Target Platforms

Your idea of transitioning from outdated Win CE is to move to Windows 10 IoT, and you’re wondering if it will be the best choice. The migration path from Win CE to Windows IoT won’t be the easiest, but a high level of security and add-ons built on artificial intelligence compensate for it. By choosing Windows 10 Enterprise, you also get regular updates, ten years of technical support, and ten years of license validity, counting from the release date.

It’s impossible to determine conclusively whether Windows 10 IoT beats other systems from major manufacturers, but it’s worth mentioning the versatility of Linux at this point. This operating system is just as effective and functional on both single-board computers and the most powerful supercomputers. Also, Linux adapts perfectly to any device, allowing you to create conditions tailored to your needs.

One clear difference between embedded Linux and Windows 10/11 IoT is the ability to use some Linux licenses for free and indefinitely. The support is also free, but it is only community support. Specialized paid assistance is offered by commercial Linux vendors. You also have to update the OS by yourself. Still, Linux is a safer OS than Windows because vigilant community members regularly deliver security patches.

How does Android compare to Windows 10 IoT Enterprise? The first advantage is its high popularity and ease of use, even for those who have not experienced the system before. Like Linux, Android benefits from the support of an open-source global community that collectively develops the software and protects it from backdoor attacks. Switching from Windows Embedded to Android is usually faster and more cost-effective than from Win CE to other platforms.

Warehouse employee using Windows CE handheld device.

Strategic Considerations for Businesses

The decision to transition from legacy Windows CE to a modern embedded operating system is essential not only from the standpoint of technical efficiency and device compatibility. Any significant change is a turning point for the business, which involves costs and rethinking the development direction. Migration is also fraught with risk: what if the chosen platform does not respond to all business expectations? Find out how to minimize the adverse effects of a necessary Win CE switch to more up-to-date systems.

Financial Pros and Cons of Migration

Migrating from Windows CE systems to another solution inseparably involves costs. As part of your migration strategy, you should include the financial implications, such as purchasing licenses, using specialist support, and employee training. You also need to put the cost of possible downtime into your migration scenario and value the losses (or lack of profits) created during that time.

Postponing migration due to allocating resources to more critical matters can leave your legacy Windows embedded platform defenseless against hackers. The apparent savings may lead to substantial costs due to failures or attacks if the system lacks active support and encounters unforeseen issues.

Long-term Strategic Windows CE Migration Benefits

Technology has changed dramatically since Windows CE was launched. At the beginning of its existence in the IT industry, this software was not designed with the Internet of Things and industrial automation technologies in mind. Despite adapting its capabilities, it had to give way to newer solutions.

The migration process can be a turning point for you and your company and a way out of your business comfort zone. As a company that innovates, you will become more attractive in the customers’ eyes. Your competitors will know you are not staying behind and are a worthy opponent in the modern world. Introducing a new solution will improve your devices’ performance, security, support, and even battery life without any additional modifications.

Changing legacy software to move with the times will allow you to design and deploy capabilities that working with Windows CE did not allow. By migrating, you can become one of the leading providers of solutions based on AI/ML, AR, VR, 5G, or System on Chip (SoC), and thus perfectly meet the needs of a rapidly changing world.

Choosing a Partner for the Migration Process

Now that you have some knowledge to start the migration process from Win CE to a modern solution with active support, it’s time to find a team of experienced professionals who will provide you with comprehensive support at every stage of transitioning from Windows CE to the platform that perfectly meets your needs. Check out what you should expect from OS migration experts.

How to Select a Trusted Technology Partner?

The IT market is bursting at the seams with companies providing support in software migration projects, but not all providers will guarantee you the services you need. First of all, pay attention to your potential partner’s portfolio. Completed projects confirm back-end knowledge of many Windows embedded operating systems versions and other solutions. Testimonials from satisfied companies reflect experience, a personalized approach, and multi-level support.

Embedded Platform Design Services from Scalo

Are you looking for a team that can transform your ideas into reality? Experts from Scalo will take you on a transformative journey to reshape your industry with an innovative approach to Embedded Systems Design Services. Seamless migration and integration with existing and new devices or applications will save you money, time, and stress. Contact Scalo today and schedule the opening of a new chapter in your company’s history!

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