Traditionally, Microsoft treated Linux as its arch enemy. After all, the operating system could do everything that Windows could, but, unlike the corporation's proprietary OS, it was available absolutely free of charge. Being open source, Linux also allowed individuals and organisations to customise itself as needed for specialised purposes. Want to use the OS for cutting-edge gaming? No problem! The access to hardware resources can be made more efficient. Want to put your OS on a small and not very powerful device? That can be done too. Just strip out all unnecessary components from it. This flexibility resulted in Linux being adopted on the majority of the world's web servers, smartphones and wearable devices. Essentially, your Android is nothing but Linux with a nice UI.
Of course, Microsoft has then realised that Linux will not ever go away and it would not be wise to ignore the vast Linux ecosystem that is out there. You cannot compete with all of that just by constantly releasing new special-purpose versions of Windows. Therefore the corporation begun to be Linux-like by starting to make software that works on Linux and by making some of their proprietary technologies open source. .NET Core was a significant step in this direction, which allowed developers to build OS- and CPU-agnostic apps by using familiar tools and languages supplied by Microsoft, such as Visual Studio and C#.
This time, however, Microsoft went one step further and made its own version of Linux. The distributable is called Azure Sphere OS and it is the second Unix-based OS ever released by the company. The first one was Xenix, which was released in the 1980s. The specific purpose of the new Linux-based OS is the company's desire to secure Internet of Things (IoT), where the best security practices from the traditional IT often either aren't followed or are even impossible to implement due to how the IoT hardware is built.
The OS forms just one part of company's IoT infrastructure, known as Assure Sphere. Microsoft is also working on custom microcontrollers (MCUs) that implement everything that is necessary to ensure secure communication over the internet. These will be installable on a wide range of device types and will be available to manufacturers royalty-free.
The final part of Azure Sphere is the collection of tools and microservices available in the cloud to drive IoT logic on the ground. This includes automated detection of security issues and other malfunctions and the ability to update MCU firmware and device software remotely.
Azure Sphere is available in private preview with development kits planned to be released towards the middle of the year. The devices powered by Microsoft's MCUs are planned to be used on a large scale in production by the end of the year.
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Published by Mobile Tech Tracker
Posted on 24 Apr 2018