Microsoft has confirmed it is making “big investments” into the Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem, with several flavours of Windows 10 designed to power devices, but it has not disclosed the relationship between these and its current embedded platforms.
At the Windows Hardware Engineering Community (WinHEC) event in China this week, Microsoft disclosed a few more morsels regarding the features coming in Windows 10.
The firm reiterated that a new version of Windows for small footprint IoT devices will be available for free when Windows 10 launches, and that there will be versions for a diverse set of IoT devices, ranging from powerful devices like ATMs to resource-constrained devices like gateways.
Writing on the Windows blog, Microsoft’s general manager for the Windows IoT Group Kevin Dallas said that the firm will be “delivering a new version of Windows 10 for small devices that will be free for makers and commercial device builders and device services to unlock new scenarios”.
According to the published chart (see below), this version of Windows 10 will target both x86 and ARM processors, but will have no shell (user interface) and will require a minimum 256MB memory and 2GB storage.
A step up from this is Windows 10 IoT for mobile devices, which will feature the Modern shell (otherwise known as Metro-style), support Microsoft’ s universal apps, and will run only on ARM devices with at last 512MB memory and 4GB storage.
At the top is Windows 10 IoT for industry devices, which will run only on x86 processors, feature the desktop shell and require 1GB memory and 16GB of storage.
How these relate to the versions of Windows 10 for PCs and phones that testers are already trying out is not entirely clear, and Microsoft is also keeping quiet on whether the Windows 10 IoT builds replace its current Windows Embedded platforms or are the next versions of these.
It seems fair to assume that Windows 10 IoT for industry devices will be comparable to the existing Windows Embedded 8.1 Industry, which is effectively just the standard Windows platform but licensed for embedding in devices.
Windows 10 IoT for mobile devices is an ARM-only platform, and seems likely to be the version that Microsoft intends to make available for the Raspberry Pi and other “maker” single-board computers. This could also turn out to be the version of Windows 10 that targets smartphones, which may make it the successor to Windows Embedded 8.1 Handheld, which is based on Windows Phone.
However, the details remain decidedly unclear, and Microsoft had not responded to requests from V3 for clarification at the time of writing.
“We are excited about the next chapter of Windows for IoT devices and will provide more details on our plans soon,” Dallas wrote on the Windows blog.