Microsoft to combine Windows 10 IoT Core and IoT Enterprise in 2021

Microsoft is making a lot of feature and packaging changes to its Windows 10 IoT line-up over the next year. Here's what's planned between now and 2021.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor
Credit: Microsoft

Microsoft is making some substantial changes to its Windows for IoT platform in the next few months. The company is going to be converging Windows 10 IoT Core and Windows 10 IoT Enterprise in 2021 and reducing the size of that combined release substantially.

Microsoft is promising the Windows for IoT platform will get a bunch of new features and updates in the coming year. Among these: Silicon support expansion; reduction of up to 40 percent in the size of the OS itself; and over-the-air updates. Users also will get the ability to run Linux workloads via Linux Containers with Azure IoT Edge on Windows. Officials said these updates will be available in preview "soon" and widely available in 2021.

The next long-term supported release of Windows will converge Windows 10 IoT Core and Windows 10 IoT Enterprise. The combined version will be known as Windows 10 IoT Enterprise. Microsoft is committing to have a Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) release for this combined IoT Enterprise release in 2021

To date, Microsoft has emphasized that Windows 10 IoT Core and Windows 10 IoT Enterprise are for different workloads. IoT Core is "built for small, secured smart devices," runs UWP apps and supports ARM CPUs. IoT Enterprise provides "all the power of Windows, including enterprise manageability and security. Enterprise also provides both Semi-Annual Channel and Long Term Servicing Channel support.

Those currently using and building for Windows 10 IoT Core will be able to continue to use the Windows 10 IoT Core Services, which are supported until January 2029, officials said this week. Going forward, partners with Windows 10 IoT Core deployments on x64 and ARM64 silicon will be expected to move to Windows 10 IoT Enterprise.

Microsoft is bringing the new Chromium-based Edge browser to Windows 10 IoT Enterprise. This is available for testing now on the semi-annual channel (SAC) release of Windows 10 IoT Enterprise. It will be generally available on the SAC release of Windows 10 IoT Enterprise later this year. Browser support is needed for kiosks, digital signage and appliances, officials said, so a kiosk mode and assigned access is coming for Edge on these devices in future releases. This will be available in preview for Insider testing later this year and generally available in 2021.

The coming combined Windows 10 IoT Enterprise release also will be available on NXP's i.MX8 processors in addition to existing support for Intel, AMD, and Qualcomm processors, officials said.

Meanwhile, Microsoft is continuing to position its Azure RTOS (real-time operating system) as another IoT option -- one specific to devices powered by microcontrollers and with highly-constrained devices. Azure RTOS is based on the ThreadX technology which Microsoft obtained when it bought Express Logic in 2019.

At Build, Microsoft announced embedded development kits for Azure RTOS are available from ST, Renesas, NXP, Microchip and Qualcomm, which include a production license for all Azure RTOS components. Microsoft also has made full source code for all Azure RTOS components available on GitHub for testing purposes. Azure RTOS also is shipping with an Azure Security Center module for monitoring IOT device threats and vulnerabilities, officials said this week.

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