Microsoft Unveils Windows Server IoT 2019

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Microsoft announced on Tuesday that it has a Windows Server IoT 2019 product, among other details, at this week’s Embedded World conference in Nuremberg, Germany.

Windows Server IoT 2019 appears to be a new edition, adding to the current Windows 10 IoT product line with its Core and Enterprise editions. The IoT name, standing for “Internet of Things,” is a rebrand of Microsoft’s venerable “Windows Embedded” product line, which is typically used by software and original equipment manufacturing (OEM) partners to build specialized devices.

Under the old Windows Embedded brand, there had always been a Server edition. Now, almost four years after the IoT rebrand, it’s back in the form of Windows Server IoT 2019. Microsoft apparently skipped a “Windows Server IoT 2016” edition.

Microsoft’s announcement had little to say about Windows Server IoT 2019. It’s apparently just being introduced. There was no discussion if it’s actually available, for instance.

An “Overview” document indicated that “Windows Server IoT 2019 is only licensed through the OEM channel under special dedicated use rights.” Microsoft offers server upgrades for this product under its “long-term servicing channel” model, meaning that new OS releases come out every two or three years, and the product gets the traditional five years of “mainstream support” and five years of “extended support.”

Microsoft is positioning Windows Server IoT 2019 as being useful when there’s a need to address large data storage and compute requirements. Examples included analyzing video camera feeds or data from “tens of thousands of sensors or devices.” The server product also lets organizations scale their workloads “between cloud and the edge.”

Windows 10 IoT Additions
The announcement also recapped some recent Windows 10 IoT capabilities. For instance, Microsoft Azure IoT Device Agent version 2 preview for Windows 10 IoT was released last month. The Device Agent provides organizations with a means for remotely configuring, monitoring and managing devices via the Azure dashboard.

Microsoft also touted the use of the Robot Operating System in the Windows 10 IoT Enterprise edition, which was unveiled back in October. Back then, Microsoft had just described releasing experimental versions of this operating system. In the Tuesday announcement, though, Microsoft stated that “now developers can build and deploy commercial-grade Robot Operating System (ROS) solutions on Windows, making robots easier to develop, more aware of their surroundings, and safer to be around.” These robots can use Azure Cognitive Services along with various other “Azure IoT cloud services,” Microsoft indicated.

Also apparently new for Windows 10 IoT developers is Azure IoT Edge for Windows. Azure IoT Edge has a runtime that gets deployed on devices, turning them into IoT Edge devices, this Microsoft document explained. Linux and ARM32 runtimes also are available, but the Windows x64 capability was described as being “currently in preview.” Organizations might want to use Azure IoT Edge to get access to Azure analytics capabilities. It puts Docker containers on devices to process the data, gives access to various Azure services including Azure Functions and Azure Machine Learning, and permits the remote monitoring of devices, according to this Azure IoT Edge document.

Windows 10 IoT Partnerships
Microsoft also described partnerships with chip vendors, including NXP and Qualcomm.

NXP is using Windows 10 IoT Core on its “i.MX 8M and i.MX 8M Mini applications processors,” which are at the preview stage, Microsoft indicated. These processors “will enable secure, power-optimized devices for the intelligent edge that give developers a choice of Linux or Windows IoT,” Microsoft indicated.

Qualcomm is bringing its Snapdragon processors to Windows 10 IoT Enterprise edition. It’ll help deliver IoT solutions for “companies of all sizes and industries,” Microsoft indicated.

Microsoft also cited a couple of practical examples of Windows 10 IoT use by its solution partners. Action Point, an IT services company based in Ireland, created IoT-Predict, a predictive maintenance solution for manufacturing companies to use, which uses Windows 10 IoT Enterprise. IDEX Fire and Safety built a Captium platform to add predictive maintenance for emergency vehicles using Windows 10 IoT Core.

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