Microsoft, Cisco, Intel and others form open IoT standards group

The Open Connectivity Foundation will seek to define interoperability standards for the billions of internet-connected devices expected to arrive in the next few years.

Microsoft is leading a band of tech titans in the formation of a new Internet of Things standards group.

The Open Connectivity Foundation (OCF) will seek to define interoperability standards for the billions of internet-connected devices expected to arrive in the next few years. Founding members include Microsoft, Cisco, Electrolux, General Electric, Intel, Qualcomm, Samsung, ARRIS, and CableLabs.

"We have helped lead the formation of the OCF because we believe deeply in its vision and the potential an open standard can deliver," wrote Terry Myerson, EVP of Windows and Devices Group, in a blog post. "Despite the opportunity and promise of IoT to connect devices in the home or in businesses, competition between various open standards and closed company protocols have slowed adoption and innovation."

Obviously, the OCF is not the first attempt by technology companies to form an IoT standards group. Remember the Open Interconnect Consortium (OIC)? The group was formed in 2014 in an effort led by Samsung, Intel and Broadcom.

The new OCF is now basically a rebrand of the OIC. A click to the OIC website automatically redirects to openconnectivity.org.

Up until now the OIC was in competition with the Allsee Alliance, another IoT standards group formed in 2013, with members such as Microsoft, Electrolux, and Qualcomm -- all of whom are now part of the OCF. There's also the two-year-old Industrial Internet Association formed by Intel, IBM, ATT, Cisco, and GE.

It's not immediately clear whether membership in one group negates the other, or if the OCF is aiming to merge all of the groups together.

Nevertheless, Microsoft is making a major push for the IoT with Windows 10 and Azure, so supporting a group of like-minded tech players is a logical and necessary step.

As it currently stands, the IoT is made of a hodgepodge of open standards and proprietary technologies that connect all of the "things", creating a fragmented ecosystem that, as Microsoft said, is slowing the whole industry down.

It's also worth noting that Microsoft's longtime frenemy Apple has remained absent from any IoT standards group thus far.

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