Microsoft prepares Windows 10 for the Internet of Things

Microsoft Windows 10 will underpin Microsoft's foray into the Internet of Things (IoT) by providing an operating system and ancillary services for “things” that do not resemble traditional computing devices.

By Richard Edwards, Principal Research Analyst, Ovum July 29, 2015

Microsoft Windows 10 will be available for consumers on July 29 while enterprises will receive their variant in the October/November timeframe. Makers of desktop, laptop, and tablet computers are hoping that Windows 10 will win-back users lost through the Microsoft Windows 8 debacle and reinvigorate the market with sales of new Windows-powered computing devices.

Microsoft is pinning its future hopes on Windows 10 too, but this isn’t about recapturing the mobile operating systems market (it’s pretty much conceded that to Apple and Google). For Microsoft, it’s about gaining a strong foothold in the next multi-billion dollar market: the Internet of Things (IoT).

Microsoft Windows 10 will underpin the company’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. This time—with cloud-savvy CEO Satya Nadella at the helm—Microsoft is ready for action.

Microsoft envisages a range of devices and machines connecting to the Internet of Things, so it has developed three distinct flavors of the Microsoft Windows 10 operating system to target specific categories:

  • Windows 10 IoT for small devices with X86 or ARM processors, 256MB RAM, 2GB storage, no Shell, and universal apps and drivers.
  • Windows 10 IoT for mobile devices with ARM processors, 512MB RAM, 4GB storage, Modern Shell, and universal apps and drivers.
  • Windows 10 IoT for industry devices with X86 processors, 1GB RAM, 16GB 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. However, the company is eager to inform the market that its IoT strategy extends beyond devices running Windows 10, pointing to Microsoft Azure Internet of Things services.

Azure IoT services are comprised of Azure Event Hubs, Azure DocumentDB, Azure Stream Analytics, Azure Notification Hubs, Azure Machine Learning, Azure HDInsight, and Microsoft Power BI. Microsoft 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.

To the casual observer, it might seem that the high-tech industry thrives on newness and innovation. However, familiarity and evolution are so important when it comes to engaging the mainstream market that creates winners and losers. For Microsoft, Windows 10 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.

– Richard Edwards, principal research analyst, Ovum. Edited by Chris Vavra, production editor, CFE Media, Control Engineering,

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– See additional information about Microsoft Windows 10 below.