Microsoft IoT

Microsoft Buys Its Way Into IoT Operating Systems

It is no secret that Microsoft sees IoT as a major part of its growth strategy. Almost a year ago to the day we wrote about Microsoft’s shocking reorganization where their flagship product, Windows, would no longer have its own division but would be split into two groups, Experiences & Devices and Cloud + IoT. They also pledged to spend $5 billion on IoT research, products services and programs. Then, at their Ignite conference in Orlando last September they announced a new IoT hosting service called Azure Digital Twin. Azure, for those of you not familiar, is Microsoft’s cloud computing platform that includes hosting, analytics and even a marketplace. Even the most knowledgeable might be interested to know that the word azure is pronounced differently depending on the diction. In the UK it puts the emphasis on the second syllable (az-YOUR) while in the US it is on the first (AZH-uhr).

Now Microsoft is showing that some of their plans for the $5 billion dollar commitment to space include hardware acquisitions. Yesterday they announced that they are buying a developer of “real-time operating systems” called Express Logic. Their RTOS, called ThreadX, ensures predictability by giving every process a known, “bounded” amount of time. For this reason, it is a popular choice for small devices like Wi-Fi transmitters and even NASA’s Deep Impact rover.

Microsoft, maybe better than any company on earth, understands the power of keeping things within their system. The operating systems themselves might not be the end game, If they are able to get enough devices using their Azure cloud computing system then they might be able to create some significant lock-in. Oh, and if you are wondering why a company like Microsoft would by a 23-year-old tech company rather than just developing the product internally, you should know that the company has around 6.2 billion devices already running its system. That kind of market traction is especially valuable seeing as how some other big competitors, like Intel and Alibaba, are already pushing hard into the space. Lest you think that Microsoft’s $5 billion dollars is enough to secure itself as the most well-funded buyer of IoT related technology remember that Alibaba’s IPO was where SoftBank got its capital to invest in rivals like ARM, which were eventually sold to their $100 billion Vision Fund.

The race for market share in the growing IoT space is on. The stakes are high, the investments are big and the implications for how it will change our economy and our daily lives is yet to be fully understood.

Propmodo is a global multimedia effort to explore how emerging technologies affect our built environment.

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