At Computex 2018 in Taipei, Microsoft announced new Internet of Things (IoT) services and enterprise hardware during a keynote address. The news follows Microsoft’s promise last month to invest $5 billion into IoT over the next four years.
“For Microsoft, it’s more than just screens and devices; it’s about creating services and experiences with technology that support ambitions and aspirations,” Nick Parker, corporate vice president at Microsoft, said in a statement. “Imagine the devices and experiences we can create with ubiquitous computing, infused with AI and connected to the cloud. This is such an incredible time for our industry.”
On the intelligent edge front, Microsoft announced a new category of Windows 10 devices, called Windows Collaboration Displays; Windows 10 IoT Core Services; and a new IoT partner community.
Windows Collaboration Displays are large-scale devices designed for boardrooms. They leverage the oowy of the Microsoft 365 family, including Office, Teams, and Whiteboard, and share a form factor with Microsoft’s Surface Hub. Models from Sharp and Avocor will go on sale later this year at undisclosed prices.
Put another way, Microsoft is asking its partners to compete with its Surface Hub, and soon the Surface Hub 2, which the company announced last month but isn’t shipping until next year. Much like with its Surface laptop-tablet lineup, Microsoft created a new device category in the hopes of paving the way for computer makers.
In a related announcement, Microsoft took the wraps off of Windows 10 IoT Core Services, a new offering that aims to ease the burden of bringing IoT devices to market. It includes Device Health Attestation (DHA), which helps OEMs ensure that client devices have secure BIOS and boot software configurations enabled, and a suite of tools for managing operating system updates, app updates, and settings.
IoT Core Services, which is a paid offering, is meant to complement Windows 10 IoT Core, a lightweight version of Windows 10 optimized for IoT devices. It was released in August 2015 and counts Misty Robotics, Johnson Controls, and Askey among its users.
Device Update Center (DUC), one of the pillars of Windows 10 IoT Core Services, will allow users to create, customize, and control operating system, driver, and OEM-specific file updates, and to distribute them via Microsoft’s Windows Update content distribution network. It will also support test flighting to devices prior to widespread rollouts.
On the security front, DHA, combined with a device management system like Microsoft’s Azure IoT Device Management, can re-image devices or deny them network access.
Windows 10 IoT Core Services is backed by 10 years of support via the Windows Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC), Microsoft says, and devices will receive “quality” updates every two to three years that won’t introduce new features, minimizing the potential for exploits, bugs, and instability.
Last but not least is the “intelligent edge partner” community, a new forum for like-minded IoT hardware and software makers that will “help … identify opportunities to collaborate on technology innovation” and “achieve shared business goals.” Members will be invited to participate in events and training sessions and to participate in early adopter programs.
New Windows 10 devices
Microsoft 365, Microsoft’s eponymous productivity platform, took center stage at Computex, and the Redmond company highlighted a new device from HP to showcase it: the HP ProBook X360. The latest-generation HP ProBook 360 features HP’s BIOSphere Gen4 technology, which protects the BIOS from intrusion, as well as a Windows Hello IR sensor for face authentication.
It follows hot on the heels of Asus’ Zenbook Pro 15 UX580, an all-aluminum unibody laptop with up to Intel 8th Generation Core i9 processors, and Samsung’s yet-to-be-announced Always Connected laptop powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 850 Mobile Compute Platform.
“Using Microsoft’s programs, platforms, and suite of services, our partners are bringing to life a breadth of devices at the Intelligent Edge that delight customers and empower them to do more,” Parker said.