On Wednesday, April 15th, Microsoft came crashing into the competitor’s ring for the still-emerging industry of the Internet of Things (IoT), sometimes called the Internet of Everything (but mostly by Cisco). The announcement came during an address from Satya Nadella, the new CEO of Microsoft, where he excitedly detailed their interest in what he calls the new “data culture” that will drive the market to an estimated $1.6 Trillion in the next four years.
The specific service that Microsoft is coming to bat with is the “Microsoft Azure Intelligent Systems Service” that is meant to operate as a hub for Internet of Things applications and the enormous amount of exchanged data that is at the center of IoT systems. While the service isn’t the first of it’s kind, Salesforce launched a Cloud/IoT hybrid service in late 2013 called Salesforce1, it certainly marks an intelligent and decisive move on Microsoft’s part. By staking a claim in the governance of embedded systems, Satya Nadella could really be shifting the face of Microsoft’s traditional sales model.
This announcement comes on the heels of the company offering a, for the first time ever, free version of Windows for devices with screens under 9 inches. Dubbed “Microsoft for IoT,” the move might give Windows 8.1 some leverage on Android’s hold of the free market for devices, and firmly place Windows at the center of emerging IoT devices. While it’s a bit early to say if consumers will adapt to a Windows 8.1 experience for IoT devices, it’s certainly an enticing option for manufacturers to this previously “pricey” option.
Satya Nadella had more things to say about the future of Microsoft, Internet of Things, and his proposed “data culture for everyone.” He wrote a rather broad essay for the Microsoft blog that explains his vision further. One of the key takeaways was about the potential for IoT to expand just what consumers can do with previously exclusive technology.
“We believe that with the right tools, insights can come from anyone, anywhere, at any time. When that happens, organizations develop what we describe as a 'data culture.'”
Whether Nadella’s proposed data culture is as empowering as he suggests is something that we’ll all have to keep an eye out for. The Internet of Things is in an active but potentially still-vulnerable field with the Heartbleed bug and other data breaches still freshly on everyone’s mind. Whether or not there are things to be concerned about, and there are, IoT is fast approaching with an estimated $14 Trillion in the next decade. That’s a lot of cash, so expect to see some other mega-vendors jumping onboard in the coming months.