Microsoft readies previews of Azure Digital Twins, Azure Sphere secure-edge service

Microsoft is starting to test a new Azure digital-twinning service, while also making generally available its Azure Sphere and Microsoft IoT Central services.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft is playing up the "intelligent edge" piece of its "intelligent cloud/intelligent edge" strategy at its Ignite IT pro conference this week with a number of IoT announcements. Two of the biggest are public previews of a new Azure Digital Twins service, along with its Azure Sphere secure-edge offering.

Also: Windows 10 how-to: Ed Bott's free tech support guide

Azure Digital Twins enables customers and partners to create digital models of any physical environment, down to the people, places, things, relationships and processes that connect them. Via Azure Digital Twins, users can query data in the context of a space, not just separate sensors. This service will be part of the Azure IoT platform and launches in public preview on October 15.

Also: Microsoft Surface: Rumored specs, features, leaks, price, release date CNET

The concept of digital twins has been adopted widely in manufacturing, especially for building energy-efficient, predictively-maintained spaces. Beyond factories and warehouses, the technology can be used in offices, schools, hospitals, parking lots, electrical grids and more.

Credit: Microsoft

Once a user creates a digital model of a physical environment, Azure Digital Twins will use Azure IoT Hub to connect the IoT devices and sensors and to keep the model up-to-date with the physical world, according to Microsoft. The service makes use of a spatial intelligence graph for storing maps, documents, manuals, pictures and blob storage data. Azure Digital Twins also can connect instances and models to other Azure services like Analytics, AI, Storage, Maps, Dynamics 365 and Office 365.

Also: Microsoft: 5 tips for developers to reduce malware TechRepublic

Microsoft also announced at Ignite today, September 24, that its Azure Sphere secure-edge service is now available in public preview. Azure Sphere is an end-to-end offering for securing devices that include a custom Linux-based microcontroller from Microsoft. The Azure Sphere stack includes an Azure Sphere Security service connected to these devices.

MORE FROM IGNITE: Microsoft tries again to win developers with new Cortana Enterprise Skills Kit | What's next for Teams | Microsoft staggers rollout of Surface Hub 2 | Microsoft to unify search across Windows 10, Office 365 and Bing with Microsoft Search

In addition, as of today, September 24, Microsoft is making generally available its Microsoft IoT Central service. Microsoft IoT Central is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering for connecting physical devices to back-end services, such as field service, customer engagement, predictive maintenance, asset utilization, energy management, and productivity services. It allows users to gain insights into devices via analytics services and make proactive decisions about those IoT devices.

A brief history of Microsoft's Surface: Missteps and successes

Previous and related coverage:

Here's how you can still get a free Windows 10 upgrade

Microsoft's much-hyped free upgrade offer for Windows 10 ended in 2016, right? Not exactly. The GWX tool may be gone, but all the other upgrade tools still work. The end result is an apparently valid digital license, and there's no evidence that the free upgrades will end any time soon.

How to install, reinstall, upgrade and activate Windows 10

Here's everything you need to know before you repair, reinstall, or upgrade Windows 10, including details about activation and product keys.

After Windows 10 upgrade, do these seven things immediately

You've just upgraded to the most recent version of Windows 10. Before you get back to work, use this checklist to ensure that your privacy and security settings are correct and that you've cut annoyances to a bare minimum.

How to upgrade from Windows 10 Home to Pro for free

You've got a new PC running Windows 10 Home. You want to upgrade to Windows 10 Pro. Here's how to get that upgrade for free. All you need is a Pro/Ultimate product key from an older version of Windows.

Related stories:

Editorial standards