The Internet of Things is starting to pick up steam. It's the idea that it is possible to embed small computers in everyday objects, hooking them up to the Web and enabling all kinds of connectivity and control. Mainstream developers are starting to pay more attention to the IoT. For example, Microsoft has a form of Windows 10 that is especially designed for small computers without screens, like the Raspberry Pi. The Pi is an ideal choice for the Internet of Things because it is small, but feature-rich.
Microsoft's offering for the IoT is called, appropriately, Windows 10 IoT Core. It's designed for use with Intel or ARM chips. In addition to the Core version, Microsoft is planning to introduce a business-oriented OS version called Windows 10 IoT Industry. As of now, only Core is available to the general public, and it's still in the early stages; Microsoft releases Insider Previews on occasion, but does not consider the OS finished and ready for use.
This is a sign, though, that developers are taking the IoT seriously and treating it as a potential new growth sector. That is why Microsoft is spending valuable time and resources making an IoT OS. It's exciting to see this, because there is a lot of potential for the IoT to transform business and IT.
For example, one of the trickier problems in IT has been the way network performance can vary with distance to routers and other factors. The IoT allows for a distributed group of small network performance tools that can monitor local conditions in their immediate area. This allows IT managers to construct a reading of where the network performs well and where it does not.
The IoT also offers the possibility of developing products that have deeper integration with themselves. When each major part of a product has its own connection, the product performs better, can carry out better diagnostics, and can report more information about its own performance. All of these are valuable for business and IT uses. Imagine how much time could be saved with the application of Internet of Things connections to many day to day business operations. The amount of data they produce would be difficult to manage, but it would offer truly unprecedented insight into workflow, production, and the company's use of its various resources.
Microsoft's attention might herald the start of a new era of development- that of the micro-app, which works on tiny chips and carries out useful IoT functions, rather than depending on a screen and traditional computer interface. It is certainly true that the IoT is currently underexploited, so a savvy business has an opportunity to differentiate itself by getting involved in IoT on the ground floor. The real power of the IoT is not in what it can do now, but in its potential, and the more people there are actively working on developing solutions for the various devices in the IoT, the greater that potential will be.
It does all depend on development, though, to make enough functionality for the IoT to matter. With Microsoft leading the charge, it may not be long until more people start making note of how the IoT can add value and what it might be able to accomplish. For now, MS is working diligently on new releases of its IoT OS, which you can see if you are getting the Insider Previews of the various Windows 10 builds. Take a look and see what the team is working on- it might surprise you to see just how far along they are to functional, useful applications.