On Monday, March 16, Microsoft used its annual Convergence conference in Atlanta to make a big move into IoT, announcing that Windows 10 is designed from the code on up to be M2M friendly and revealing its new Azure IoT Suite of business access to tools like asset management, remote monitoring and predictive maintenance.
Most of the initial announcements came out of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s keynote speech. “Devices will come and go. But the most interesting thing is the data being collected,” Nadella said. “How do we make sure that the ability to have access to that data, the ability to act on the insight – those small patterns that, we as humans, recognize in data? The real power comes from our ability to act on those insights.”
The Microsoft Azure IoT Suite is designed to take advantage of all the relevant Azure capabilities to help businesses connect, manage and analyze their entire M2M-enabled infrastructure. It will be available in preview later this year, and Microsoft is hoping that businesses with finished applications targeting common IoT uses like remote monitoring, asset management and predictive maintenance will use it to simplify deployment and scale solutions into the millions of deployments. Azure Stream Analytics, the data processing and parsing mechanism, will be generally available next month as part of Azure IoT or as a standalone service.
Windows 10 for IoT will be a discreet version of the operating system for a diverse set of M2M devices, allowing one Windows platform to integrate with universal applications and driver models across a wide range of devices. Critically important, Windows 10 IoT will also bring enterprise-grade security from the device to the cloud and native connectivity for machine-to-machine and machine-to-cloud scenarios.
Other key announcements and releases included: Power BI, a service that provides live market operational dashboards, data visualization, sharing tools; Microsoft Dynamics CRM, expected by the end of the second quarter of 2015, will deliver significant performance enhancements and deepen interoperability with Office 365; Office Delve, which uses sophisticated machine learning techniques to help people discover relevant documents, conversations and connections from across Office 365; the IT Professional and Developer Preview of Office 2016, expected to be generally available in the second half of this year; and the Skype for Business (previously Microsoft Lync) technical preview that starts Monday, and the new Skype for Business client, server and service within Office 365, available starting in April.
“Businesses are hungry to seize new opportunities using technologies like machine learning and predictive analytics,” said Nadella. “Only when businesses create a culture that empowers everyone to have access to data and insight that drive action will they be positioned to truly transform.”
With the power of Microsoft muscling its way into this space, offering a massively inter-device platform like windows, security at an enterprise level and data crunching chops, it’s going to be very interesting to see how the rest of the IoT wild west responds. It certainly looks like Microsoft wants to be the new sheriff in town.
For more information and news from Convergence 2015, as well as keynote presentation and announcements related to customer and partner activity, click here.