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Microsoft improves speed and security on Windows 10 IoT

Steve Rogerson
November 9, 2017

Microsoft’s autumn creators’ update to Windows 10 IoT is said to improve speed, security and intelligence.
“Whether you’re exploring a new product idea for a cloud-connected device or looking to transform an existing product line to enable intelligence at the edge, Windows 10 IoT is a trusted, secure platform which gives you the power to bring a new solution to market,” said Rushmi Malaviarachchi, Microsoft’s partner group programme manager. “With each release, we continue to bring new functionality and innovation to Windows 10 IoT.”
One of the most challenging aspects of any IoT project is bringing together all the pieces and technologies needed to make a full product or service. Windows 10 IoT simplifies this process by providing a more complete platform to start from. Added features in the Fall Creators’ Update should enable developers to increase their productivity and bring IoT services to market faster.
The set of managed types that can be used to build Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps using C# or Visual Basic has been augmented with thousands of additional APIs to make it compliant with .Net Standard 2.0. These additional APIs and tooling make it easier to port existing .Net code and libraries to UWP.
The UWP is suitable for building apps with natural user interfaces. Improved ink support on Windows 10 IoT Core allows the use of DirectInk APIs for highlighter, pencil and vector-based ink. The company has also added XAML ink controls for UWP, including InkCanvas and InkToolbar, which enable stencils such as rulers and protractors. Multi-modal interactions such as simultaneous pen and touch are also now supported on compatible hardware.
Assigned Access is a feature in Windows 10 IoT Enterprise that enables single-purpose devices such as kiosks to provide users with a specific experience by restricting a user account to using a single Universal Windows app. With the Fall Creators Update, expanded Assigned Access support allows the running of multiple UWP and Win32 apps in a locked-down experience that can be configured from the cloud.
Updated language capabilities on Windows 10 IoT Core support Chinese (simplified, China), English (UK), English (USA), French (France), French (Canada), Spanish (Spain, international sort) and Spanish (Mexico).
Rather than having to build custom out-of-band management to handle device-specific troubleshooting, emergency management services on Windows 10 IoT Core provide an alternate communications channel to a device for performing low level hardware checks and basic troubleshooting tasks without relying on the operating system.
Many IoT devices interact with other hardware devices or the physical world via standard buses such as GPIO, I2C, SPI and uart. Microsoft has enabled user mode bus access on Windows 10 IoT Enterprise through the Windows.Devices APIs, just like on Windows 10 IoT Core.
On certain types of IoT devices such as point-of-sale products, low-power line displays are important for communicating essential information to customers. Support has been extended for controlling customer facing 2x20 line displays by enabling customisation of the cursor style, brightness, blink rate and character sets. Support has also been added for custom glyphs, transaction descriptors and marquee mode for scrolling text.
To monitor and manage Windows 10 IoT devices, the device management (DM) client connects to the Azure IoT Hub to provide cloud-based device management. The DM client leverages the configuration service provider (CSP) infrastructure in Windows used by other device management products, so now users can manage that same set of policies from the cloud.
The update also provides a preview of new Windows 10 IoT functionality that users can evaluate in development.
“We will continue to invest in building robust security directly into the platform, as well as augmenting those built-in security features with intelligent security services in the cloud,” said Malaviarachchi.
Support has been enabled for hosting nano server containers at the edge on 64bit editions of Windows 10 IoT Core and Enterprise. Using containers, applications and their data can be isolated from each other and quickly moved from development to production, or from the cloud to the edge. This can improve application security and reliability as well as accelerate deployment by integrating with popular devops toolchains.
Windows 10 IoT Core now offers support for Windows device health attestation. This feature allows management systems to leverage a trusted service to verify the device’s health state for reporting or even for protecting access to remote resources.
“Continuing with the direction we announced at Build earlier this year to make Windows 10 IoT the best platform for connecting to Azure IoT, we’re simplifying the integration between Windows 10 IoT and Azure IoT,” said Malaviarachchi.
Azure IoT Edge on Windows 10 IoT allows IoT services to orchestrate intelligence between the cloud and edge devices to ensure applications and services can act on IoT data wherever it makes the most sense. This programme is currently in preview.
Using the Azure IoT Hub device provisioning service, Windows 10 IoT devices can be manufactured with a common image and configured to connect automatically at first boot to Azure IoT Hub to retrieve device-specific provisioning information. The device provisioning service is designed to support millions of devices, enabling the provisioning of large scale deployments in a secure and consistent manner and automating what historically has been a complex and time-consuming process.