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What Windows 10 means for the IoT

Steve Rogerson
July 31, 2015
 
Despite the hype, Microsoft’s launch of Windows 10 is not about making inroads in the mobile space but more about getting a hook on the IoT, according to technology advisory firm Ovum.
 
While desktop, laptop and tablet makers hope that it will win back users from Apple, it is unlikely that it will be able to penetrate seriously a mobile market dominated by Android and iOS.
 
“Microsoft is pinning its future hopes on Windows 10, but this isn’t about recapturing the important mobile operating systems market – it’s pretty much conceded that to Apple and Google – it’s about gaining a strong foothold in the next multi-billion dollar market: the internet of things,” said Richard Edwards, Ovum’s enterprise ICT analyst.
 
Windows 10 will underpin Microsoft’s foray into the IoT by providing an operating system and ancillary services for things that do not resemble traditional computing devices.
 
“Microsoft was caught wrong-footed when Google harnessed the Linux kernel to produce the Android operating system that now dominates the smartphone market, but this time, with cloud-savvy Satya Nadella at the helm, Microsoft is ready for action,” said Edwards.
 
Microsoft envisages a range of devices and machines connecting to the IoT, so it has developed three distinct flavours of the Windows 10 operating system to target specific categories:

  • Windows 10 IoT for small devices with x86 or ARM processors, 256Mbyte RAM, 2Gbyte storage, no shell, and universal apps and drivers.
  • Windows 10 IoT for mobile devices with ARM processors, 512Mbyte RAM, 4Gbyte storage, modern shell, and universal apps and drivers.
  • Windows 10 IoT for industry devices with x86 processors, 1Gbyte RAM, 16Gbyte storage, desktop shell, Win32 apps, and universal apps and drivers.
 
Microsoft continues to remind partners and device builders that Windows 10 IoT is free for small devices, and is urging manufacturers to consider the Windows operating system as they build their new, intelligent, connected devices. These might range from familiar micro kiosks and home automation units, to new industrial machines, robotic systems and innovative medical devices.
 
“Microsoft did a good job of selling the idea of One Windows at its recent partner conference, and demonstrated how companies might leverage the enterprise-grade capabilities of Windows 10 IoT to protect, secure, manage and monitor IoT devices,” said Edwards. “However, the company is eager to inform the market that its IoT strategy extends beyond devices running Windows 10, pointing to Microsoft Azure IoT services.”
 
Today, Azure IoT services are comprised of Azure event hubs, document database, stream analytics, notification hubs, machine learning, HD Insight and Microsoft Power BI.
 
“Microsoft clearly understands that many paths will open up along the IoT value chain, so it is building a range of components that partners can combine, enhance and extend as the market evolves,” said Edwards. “To the casual observer, it might seem that the high-tech industry thrives on newness and innovation, and yet familiarity and evolution are so important when it comes to engaging with the mainstream market that creates winners and losers. For Microsoft, Windows 10 – a product that is new yet familiar – is the transit vehicle from the old-world of connected PCs to the new-world of connected things, so market acceptance is of huge importance to the company’s current initiatives and its future prospects.”
 
• One of the first companies out of the block is California-based Embarcadero Technologies, which has released IoT development tools for Windows 10 following its recent acquisition of Raize Components.
 
CodeSite is a developer logger for Delphi, C++Builder and Visual Studio that helps developers debug deployed Windows applications. Konopka Signature VCL Controls is a complete Windows UI component designed to help Delphi and C++Builder developers boost Windows application UI capability and ease-of-use.
 
“Even in beta, Windows 10 has been a hit with end users and developers,” said Michael Swindell, senior vice president at Embarcadero Technologies. “This resurgence in Windows interest is driving demand for both new applications and updates to millions of existing Windows-based solutions, creating new opportunities for Windows developers. The introduction of Konopka Signature VCL Controls puts the best Windows UI capabilities in the hands of Delphi and C++Builder developers at the opportune time to refresh their Windows applications. Raize software components have long been considered the highest quality Windows UI controls available to developers. The acquisition of Raize products and technology reinforces Embarcadero’s continued commitment to Delphi and C++Builder Windows developers and the popular VCL framework that powers millions of Windows applications today.”
 
• To optimise Intel processors for Windows 10, Intel has released graphics drivers for fourth and fifth generation Core processors with Intel HD graphics, Iris graphics and Iris Pro graphics, N series Pentium and Celeron processors with HD graphics (formerly codenamed Braswell). The drivers also support several new features, including Microsoft Direct X 12, Microsoft PlayReady and Miracast.