Although it’s lagged behind rivals IBM, SAP and Intel in making significant commercial moves into the Internet of Things, Microsoft has stepped up their game with a couple of big announcements this week.
Making the not-inconsiderable leap of logic that the colossal rivers of data that will soon be spewing forth from the IoT will at some point intersect with the Cloud, on Monday, Microsoft unveiled IoT Suite for Azure – joining the Microsoft Band wearable on its roster of IoT offerings. This was followed up the news today that there will also be a new version of Windows with an IoT-appropriate small footprint launching with Windows 10 this summer.
Microsoft general manager of operating systems, IoT Kevin Dallas writes that, “Additionally, through partnerships with the Raspberry Pi Foundation, Intel, and Qualcomm,” Microsoft will provide “a range of developer boards makers and device builders can use to bring Windows 10 devices to life.”
Speaking in a keynote speech at Convergence 2015 in Atalanta, Microsoft chief exec Satya Nadella outlined the new capabilities within the Azure IoT suite, and explained how the company believe it will help customers align their business strategy to the explosion of IoT and the Cloud.
Nadella said that, “The most interesting thing starts to happen once you have all that data; it is the transformation in the business model around these links…You’re going to provide SaaS [software-as-a-service] services that go along with your services and devices.”
He added that he anticipates businesses which operate in areas like sensor-reliant sectors such as healthcare and manufacturing will ultimately evolve into software businesses providing services and apps which capitalise on data gleaned from the IoT. It’s this shift that Nadella says will “change the economics of your business.” To this end, Azure IoT Suite will incorporate Azure Steam Analytics, which will provide real-time data from multiple connected devices. This will be offered both as part of the Suite, and as a standalone service.
By providing a central platform to build SaaS applications, Microsoft hopes to gain a central role in this brave new IoT-centric world. But as the sun rises on a new direction for the company that revolutionised home computing, it’s also time to say goodbye to an old friend, with Internet Explorer (that bit of software that came with all new Windows releases for you to download a decent browser on) finally being put out to pasture. Touted as an alternative to the WebKit “monoculture” we’ve become used to on Chrome and Safari, along with an IoT friendly Windows, we’re intrigued to see what ‘Project Spartan’ might bring to the table.