Windows 10 IoT Core, a lightweight version of the Windows operating system for Internet of things devices, runs on a variety of computing boards, including MinnowBoard Max, Raspberry Pi 2 and DragonBoard410c. The software enables developers, hardware hackers and technology enthusiasts to build Windows-powered connected devices.
Now, Microsoft is setting its sights on original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and original device manufacturers (ODMs).
In a Dec. 3 announcement posted to Microsoft's Windows Experience Blog, Billy Anders, partner director of program management for Microsoft Windows IoT, unveiled Windows 10 IoT Core Pro, an OEM version of the software "that provides the ability to defer updates and control distribution of updates through Windows Server Update Services. With these servicing options, we are bringing flexibility for our partners and customers to help meet their servicing needs while helping ensuring their devices are secure and managed."
For OEMs and ODMs seeking solutions based on Raspberry Pi boards, Anders said Raspberry Pi Trading and Element 14, a design engineering community site, launched a service for custom versions of the hardware. This year, a third of Raspberry Pi devices sold will pull commercial or industrial duty, Anders noted.
"We are very excited that Element 14 is offering Windows 10 IoT Core as part of their solution. This will allow makers and OEMs to start their development with Raspberry Pi 2 and, when ready, produce optimized versions of the platform for a commercial solution," Anders said.
In addition to the new OEM build, Microsoft released an updated version of Windows 10 IoT Core with snappier performance.
"We delivered a new 'direct memory access bus' driver that gives you the ability to run native code for the significant performance improvements in GPIO [General-purpose input/output]. You can choose whether to use this driver in the devices tab of the Web configuration tool," Anders said.
Users can expect GPIO operations that are over 100 times faster than the default driver. "Additionally, this driver gives you the ability to use 'Pin Muxing,' which allows you to choose which function to use on which pins based on the hardware support rather than the default configuration," he added.
Included in the update is full support for the Raspberry Pi 2's TX/RX pins. "We have also included an in-box driver for the FTDI USB-to-serial chipset because many devices use that as the interface port for controlling them (for example, Home Automation Systems). Just plugging these devices in will now have them register as an available serial port," Anders said.
On the Arduino side of the fence, Microsoft has added a streamlined, drag-and-drop process to Visual Studio intended to speed up projects. "Visual Studio and Windows will do all the heavy lifting to create a UWA [Universal Windows App] and deploy it on your behalf, and you can leverage the power of Visual Studio with Windows to debug your Arduino Wiring code on your Windows 10 IoT core device," Anders said.
Windows 10 IoT Core now supports more WiFi USB dongles for expanded connectivity options. In addition to the official Raspberry Pi dongle, it now supports dongles based on the RTL8188EU and RTL8192EU chipsets from Realtek, like the popular TL_WN725N adapter from TP-LINK.