Following up on what it started last February, Microsoft is pushing through with the thrust to bring Windows 10 to even smaller and less powerful but more general purpose hardware. In short, it is targeting the development and hobby boards that hackers and makers have grown to love. As part of its attempt to remain relevant in the Internet of Things (IoT), it is starting an Insider Preview of what it calls Windows 10 IoT Core. Plus, it has just made sure that at least one edition of the OS is now labeled as “Arduino-certified”.
Microsoft announced that it would be supporting the Raspberry Pi 2, the most recent model of the highly popular development board. Today, it is making true its promise by releasing Windows 10 IoT Core Insider Preview completely free for maker boards. This includes the Intel Minnowboard Max. Microsoft hopes to get feedback from early adopters, like issues with drivers, to help them weed out bugs and focus on the maker community’s interests.
Although the RPi is popular now, the Arduino is likely the grandfather of all these boards. So it is fitting that Microsoft pay homage by striking up a partnership with Arduino and to get Windows 10 certified for the board. The goal is for Windows 10 to provide the software, particularly the UI bits, to Arduino projects. With Microsoft’s spiel of universal apps for whatever Windows 10 device, that idea might inspire some interest.
Aside from certification, the partnership with Arduino has also produced two new open source libraries coming from Microsoft. The first is the Windows Virtual Shield for Arduino which harnesses the hardware and sensors of any Windows 10 device and employs them for an Arduino project. The Windows Remote Arduino, on the other hand, adds Arduino instructions to Universal Windows Applications. In other words, the Windows 10 apps that can run on any device form factor.
Microsoft has been increasing its efforts to prove Windows’ relevance in a world that increasingly moving away from conventional desktop computers. This latest move tries to appeal to those who advocate the Internet of Things as well as the hackers and makers that come up with crazy but genius ideas. Microsoft is trying to prove that, despite the stereotype, Windows 10 can not just scale down to the smallest hardware, it can also embrace a whole lot more than just desktops, tablets, and smartphones.