Windows 10 officially arrives on July 29, bringing with it hopes that it can revive a PC market in freefall.
Early reactions have been mostly positive, with industry watchers noting that the traditional desktop no longer takes a back seat to a touch-first interface and features like Continuum finally allow Windows two-in-one PCs to shine. Besides helping its OEM partners win back the Windows faithful—and taking a stab at increasing its ranks—the new operating system is a crucial pillar of Microsoft's Internet of things (IoT) strategy, according to Richard Edwards, principal research analyst at Ovum, an IT research firm.
"Microsoft is pinning its future hopes on Windows 10 too, but this isn't about recapturing the important mobile operating systems market [which it's pretty much conceded to Apple and Google]. It's about gaining a strong foothold in the next multibillion dollar market: the Internet of things," said Edwards in an email to eWEEK. "Windows 10 will underpin Microsoft's foray into the Internet of things by providing an operating system and ancillary services for 'things' that do not resemble traditional computing devices."
The Redmond, Wash., software giant is already pouring resources into its cloud IoT services, he noted. Its Azure Intelligent Systems Service (ISS) service helps organizations not only connect to their "things" but also capture and manage the data generated by sensors and smart devices.
Microsoft's cloud-based IoT technology is also stretching into its business software products, including its Dynamics line of CRM and ERP applications.
"Today, Azure IoT services are comprised of Azure Event Hubs, Azure DocumentDB, Azure Stream Analytics, Azure Notification Hubs, Azure Machine Learning, Azure HDInsight and Microsoft Power BI," Edwards said. "Microsoft clearly understands that many paths will open up along the IoT value chain, so it is building a range of components that partners can combine, enhance and extend as the market evolves."
In terms of software that powers those devices, Windows 10 is a chance to avoid a repeat of the company's costly stumbles in the smartphone market. "Microsoft was caught wrong-footed when Google harnessed the Linux kernel to produce the Android operating system that now dominates the smartphone market, but this time, with cloud-savvy Nadella at the helm, Microsoft is ready for action," Edwards said.
The price is also right. "Microsoft continues to remind partners and device builders that Windows 10 IoT is free for small devices, and is urging manufacturers to consider the Windows operating system as they build their new, intelligent, connected devices," Edwards said. "These might range from familiar micro kiosks and home automation units, to new industrial machines, robotic systems and innovative medical devices."
Finally, the new OS can help serve as an IoT pathway for both mainstream users and the company itself. "For Microsoft, Windows 10—a product that is new yet familiar—is the transit vehicle from the old-world of connected PCs to the new-world of connected things, so market acceptance is of huge importance to the company's current initiatives and its future prospects," Edwards said.