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Microsoft makes Windows 10 IoT Core available to all device builders

Steve Rogerson
December 10, 2015
Microsoft is making the Windows 10 IoT Core available to all device builders and has introduced a Core Pro version.
“It’s exciting to see the how fast the builder and maker community is growing thanks to the rise of affordable do-it-yourself hardware,” said the company in a blog post. “Microsoft supports IoT with an ecosystem that extends from the device layer to the operating system and the platform – and do-it-yourself devices like the low-cost Raspberry Pi board and the software that powers it make IoT accessible to anyone with a business idea.”
In addition to the royalty free Windows 10 IoT Core SKU that brings automatic software updates to the devices, Microsoft is also introducing a Windows 10 IoT Core Pro original equipment manufacturer SKU that provides the ability to defer updates and control distribution of updates through Windows server update services.
Windows 10 IoT Core is suitable for original equipment manufacturers and original device manufacturers interested in using it with hardware, such as the low-cost Raspberry Pi board, to build commercial and industrial products. To help the builder community, Microsoft has created a simple commercialisation process so they can get free commercialisation rights to ship devices that run Windows IoT 10 Core.
“When we launched Windows 10 this summer, we created a converged platform that powers a range of devices from PCs, laptops to IoT devices,” said Billy Anders, partner director of programme management for Windows IoT. “Windows 10 IoT delivers a modern platform for IoT devices with enterprise-grade security from the device to the cloud, and native connectivity for machine-to-machine and machine-to-cloud scenarios with Azure IoT technology.”
In May, Microsoft announced that there would be versions of Windows 10 Enterprise and Windows 10 Mobile Enterprise for industry devices such as ATMs, retail point of sale, handheld terminals, as well as a new Windows edition Windows 10 IoT Core for small footprint, low cost devices.
“We are now excited to share that we are making feature improvements to Windows 10 IoT Core as well as making it available for our commercial builders in addition to our maker audience,” said Anders.
This release marks an important step in the evolution of Windows 10 IoT Core for OEM and ODM partners,” said Anders. As part of the Windows 10 IoT edition family, Windows 10 IoT Core provides an optimised platform for building smaller and low cost industry devices such as IoT gateways. It brings scale to partners’ investments across form factors leveraging the same business ready capabilities they expect in Windows.
“Today, Windows 10 IoT Core is available to all device builders and we are working with our ecosystem partners to provide you, as a developer, with the hardware and software options you need to be successful in this market,” said Anders. “In addition to the royalty free Windows 10 IoT Core SKU that brings automatic software updates to the devices, we are also introducing a new Windows 10 IoT Core Pro OEM SKU that provides the ability to defer updates and control distribution of updates through Windows server update services. With these servicing options, we are bringing flexibility for our partners and customers to help meet their servicing needs while helping ensuring their devices are secure and managed.”
He said there had also been increasing interest from commercial OEMs and ODMs to create products using maker hardware and, this year, commercial and industrial products would consume over one third of all Raspberry Pi’s sold. To improve the usability of the Raspberry Pi technology for these efforts, Raspberry Pi Trading and Element 14 announced a service to offer bespoke versions of the Raspberry Pi.
“We are very excited that Element 14 is offering Windows 10 IoT Core as part of their solution,” he said. “This will allow makers and OEMs to start their development with Raspberry Pi 2 and, when ready, produce optimised versions of the platform for a commercial solution.”
To make it easy commercially to license royalty free Windows 10 IoT Core for early adopter businesses, Microsoft has created a simpler commercialisation process to obtain free commercialisation rights to ship devices.
“We have built this release with servicing options that fit different customer needs, ability to manage IoT devices with the same tools as your PCs, performance improvements and expanded the ecosystem of supported peripherals,” Anders said. “We delivered a new direct memory access bus driver that gives you the ability to run native code for the significant performance improvements in GPIO. You can choose whether to use this driver in the devices tab of the web configuration tool. Once running, you can expect your GPIO operations to become over 100 times faster than on the default driver.”
This driver gives the ability to use pin muxing, which allows developers to choose which function to use on which pins based on the hardware support rather than the default configuration.
“Many of you asked us about support for serial/uart on the Raspberry Pi and we are pleased to say that you now have full support for the TX/RX pins on the Raspberry Pi2,” he said. “You can access the uart by simply calling GetDeviceSelector(“UART0”) method on the SerialDevice class. We have also included an in-box driver for the FTDI USB-to-serial chipset because many devices use that as the interface port for controlling them, for example, home automation systems. Just plugging these devices in will now have them register as an available serial port.”
Another common request, he said, was to support additional Wifi dongles.
“In this release, we not only support the official Raspberry Pi Wifi dongle, but also two Realtek Wifi chipsets RTL8188EU and RTL8192EU,” he said.
These chipsets are included in dongles such as the TP-Link TL_WN725N, along with several other dongles. This makes connecting Windows 10 IoT Core device to the net easier.
“We want to make it easy for you to use existing Arduino wiring sketches, libraries and hardware with Windows 10 IoT Core universal Windows apps (UWA),” he said. “Simply drag-and-drop your favourite and readily-available Arduino Wiring INO and library files into Visual Studio, connect your hardware to a Windows 10 IoT Core device, and run your code. Visual Studio and Windows will do all the heavy lifting to create a UWA and deploy it on your behalf, and you can leverage the power of Visual Studio with Windows to debug your Arduino Wiring code on your Windows 10 IoT core device. You will also be able to mix your Arduino code with other UWA technologies like C# and XAML to get the best of both worlds.”
Over the past 18 months, Microsoft has delivered Windows 10 IoT Core for the Raspberry Pi 2, DragonBoard 410C and MinnowBoard Max, Windows Remote Arduino, Windows Virtual Shields for Arduino, Arduino Wiring and UWP Lightning providers and now made it available for commercial partners to enable them to build devices as well.
“We are continuing to evolve our commercial platform ecosystem working closely with key partners and through continued engagement with our OEMs and makers,” said Anders. “The team is deep into its planning for our next release and your feedback will make a great difference. Download the new release available today, update your devices and tell us about your experience. We can’t wait to see what you build.”