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Windows versus Android – the battle of the OS

Rugged computers generally come with one of two operating systems (OS) – Windows or Android. In the realm of rugged computers, the choice between the two is pivotal, shaping the efficiency of operations in warehouses and facilities. Unlike the conventional use of these OS on regular computers, in the rugged computing space, each system has its own strengths and applications. So, what do you use when? Let’s explore the nuances of Windows and Android in the domain of rugged computers.


Experience guides the way

You probably use a laptop for the bulk of your work and have a cell phone in your pocket. You use the two devices differently. The superior experience of a full web browser or email is better on your laptop but making a quick payment is so much easier using an app on your phone.


Much like the distinction between using a laptop and a smartphone, the choice between Windows and Android for rugged devices depends on the task at hand. Windows excels in certain applications, while Android proves more adept in others, providing a tailored experience based on the unique demands of the task.


Windows, the pioneer

Let’s start with Windows, the veteran of operating systems. The Microsoft OS has been around for a couple of decades, so it has a head start on Android, the new kid on the block.


With decades of experience, Windows stands as the seasoned veteran in the operating system arena. Compared to Android, Windows devices tend to boast higher computing power, ample memory, and more powerful CPU’s. Windows devices are well-suited for tasks requiring real-time visualizations and substantial data processing, and are useful if you are running heavy tasks that you want your users to be able to keep up with. They are ideal to be used as mounted or docked units with constant power supply, as all this extra power does mean that the battery drains faster and devices run warmer.


These devices connect seamlessly to peripherals, offering compatibility with a wide range of hardware. When you connect a scanner or printer to your device, Windows has the drivers to support it about 99% of the time. This saves you time and headaches when you get new equipment. Windows devices also tend to have several ports, so you don’t have to rely on Wi-Fi or Bluetooth to connect to external peripherals.


Mobile device management (MDM) is a hot topic in the mobile computing world. If you run a fleet of Windows computers, you don’t necessarily need a third-party piece of software to keep track and manage your devices, reducing the costs for fleet management. Instead, you’ll find most of the functionality embedded in Windows.


Android, the rising star

Moving on to Android. This relatively new contender has gained ground rapidly, shedding its initial perception as a consumer-centric OS. A few years ago, if you handed someone an Android device, they would perceive it more as a toy than a working device. Fast forward a few years, and these misconceptions have disappeared as Android devices have grown up and found their footing in the rugged market. Nowadays, Android is tailored for single-use app-based functionalities and provides a simplified experience, eliminating concerns about settings or complex menus. Your workforce clicks on the app and off they go.


What’s more, Android has grown rapidly in the consumer space, so many of your employees will be familiar with the OS and comfortable using it for their jobs. They can pick an Android device up and know instinctively how they work. This familiarity in the consumer space makes it an intuitive choice for employees. However, if you don’t lock down the devices with an MDM-tool, your workforce can probably get into settings and start changing things they shouldn’t. In this regard, Android devices lack built-in controls comparable to Windows.


It’s important to know that Android devices generally have a lower onboard storage, usually starting at 32GB. They also have a lower computing power than a Windows device, so they are less ideal to use with data heavy software. They do however compensate this by consuming less power, ensuring extended battery life for a full work shift.


Linking up peripherals can sometimes be a challenge as well. Android devices don’t have all the driver support of Windows, so you may find yourself going back to the supplier to make it work. Android devices also typically have less ports available, so you may find yourself often relying on Wi-Fi or Bluetooth for connections.


Pros and cons for both

These are just some of the pros and cons, but do know that choosing between Windows and Android isn’t a clear-cut decision, but rather a matter of matching the OS with specific tasks and scenarios.


Windows works particularly well as a vehicle-mounted computer or as a stationary terminal, so it has access to a continued power supply. For example – punching in and out or printing off assignments or mounted on a forklift and processing large amounts of data.


Android, on the other hand, proves to be ideal as a handheld device that your workforce can comfortably carry around all day, completing the repetitive tasks, such as quality checks or inventory checking.


Ultimately, the choice of operating systems for your rugged computers may be out of your hands. Your software application may only work on either Android or Windows devices, or perhaps it has a superior performance on one of them. At JLT, we understand the unique needs of businesses and work closely with our customers to provide the right OS solution for their rugged computing requirements. If you have questions about operating systems and what would work best for your operation, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.

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Jason Joiner

Jason Joiner

June 24, 2020

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