Microsoft is giving companies using its Internet of Things version of Windows the ability to pay for a decade of security patches and other updates, easing the chore of managing and manually patching hundreds, thousands or even millions of devices installed in everything from traffic lights in cities to industrial sensors embedded in an oil processing plant.
Microsoft’s new service lowers the bar for keeping Internet of Things devices with increasingly long lifetimes protected from malware and other digital threats. As long as customers use Microsoft’s Windows IoT Core operating system, and are willing to pay a little more, the company guarantees it will send security and other critical updates every two or three years for a decade.
“With these features, you can commercialize a device built on Windows 10 IoT Core and know that you have the enterprise-grade support and security that is synonymous with Windows,” said Rushmi Malaviarachchi, a partner group program manager for Microsoft, which said that the new service would be generally available before the end of the year.
First released in 2015, the Windows IoT Core operating system is currently employed by companies like Johnson Controls and Misty Robotics. Microsoft’s service also evaluates the trustworthiness of embedded devices at boot and lets companies create, customize and control updates sent to embedded devices using IoT Core. And the updates can be distributed to test devices before deployment.
Microsoft intends to invest $5 billion in the Internet of Things over the next four years to position its operating system and cloud, called Azure, against services from rival cloud computing firms like Amazon and Google, which recently made available new software for connecting and managing millions of Internet of Things devices, such as tracking systems installed in city buses or sensors buried in parking spaces.
Microsoft has also developed chipsets with new levels of embedded. In April, the company introduced a line of custom microcontrollers designed to run its security-focused Azure Sphere operating system. The company also announced an Azure Sphere service that can broker trust for device-to-device and device-to-cloud communication by using authentication and the ability for constant wireless updates.