Microsoft’s quest to bring Windows to modestly powered devices doesn’t end with the reduced system requirements promised for devices running this spring’s Windows 8.1 update. The company announced “Windows on the Internet of Things” at the Build 2014 conference on Wednesday, showing off the software using a Big-style floor keyboard on display at the show.
“You have to ask yourself: What kind of devices are possible when a PC runs on something the size of an eraser?” Microsoft operating system head Terry Myerson asked, holdingIntel’s maker-focused Galileo computer. The Galileo is a Raspberry Pi-esque DIY development board powered by Intel’s low-powered, Internet of Things-focused Quark chip and compatible with the Arduino’s popular open-source microcontroller boards.
Continuing the maker theme, Myerson went on to announce that when Windows on the Internet of Things becomes available, it will be absolutely free. That may be because these interactive devices are likely to tie heavily into Microsoft’s other services by their very Internet-based nature; Myerson’s demonstration leaned on Microsoft Azure’s cloud backbone, for example.
The Windows on the Internet of Things announcement comes just weeks after Google announced Android Wear, a variant of Android designed for use with smartwatches like LG’s G Watch and Motorola’s circular Moto 360. Myerson didn’t mention whether Windows on the Internet of Things will function with wearables, but the image at the top of this article clearly shows a smartwatch.
While details were light at Build itself, a “Windows on Devices” website that leaked this morning (and was quickly yanked) said that Microsoft expects to release the first Windows for the Internet of Things software development kit by the end of spring 2014, with additional releases landing throughout the year. The company also plans to head to Maker Faire to show off the fresh new software, according to the site.
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