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Microsoft Bolsters Edge Devices in Windows 10 IoT Update

The latest update to the Windows 10 IoT ("Internet of Things") operating system, intended for small devices as well as large industrial machines, aims to make edge devices "more powerful," according to Microsoft.

Released this week, the Windows 10 IoT Core edition April 2018 Update can be downloaded at this page. The Windows 10 IoT Enterprise edition April 2018 Update can be downloaded as a test version (or "evaluation" version) for 90 days here. The Enterprise edition also is supposed to be available from the My Visual Studio download page. However, just the Core editions were shown there at press time.

Microsoft offers Windows 10 IoT in two editions: the slimmed-down Core edition, which is missing a lot of features that are typically seen in the standard Windows 10 client, and the Enterprise edition, which is typically described as "a full version of Windows 10," although the OS features can be omitted by developers depending on their use cases. Microsoft quietly dropped its Windows 10 Mobile IoT edition.

In an announcement earlier this week, Microsoft described a number of developer and original equipment manufacturer (OEM) features that are getting lit up with the April 2018 Update for Windows 10 IoT. Developers can now execute unit testing remotely for Windows 10 IoT Core devices using Visual Studio 2017. They don't have to deploy their tests on devices and then run them manually, according to the announcement.

Microsoft also noted that developers can now use its AI Platform to "infuse AI into their applications and devices." They can also write Universal Windows Platform (UWP) console applications that run in the command console or PowerShell for Windows 10 IoT devices, which might be done in order to run "jobs and background processes."

Microsoft also produced "time-related APIs" that can be used to automatically set system clocks to a local time zone. There are also new APIs for setting "language, region, default speech language and default voice."

OEMs now can use the Cortana Devices SDK for voice-enabled devices. OEMs also have access to the Azure IoT Management SDK and runtime across multiple devices, which will let them carry out tasks such as "desired configuration, firmware update and factory reset remotely from the cloud."

Windows 10 for Kiosks
Windows 10 IoT is typically described by Microsoft as an OS that's suitable for kiosk devices. A kiosk device might be a publicly used device or a shared industrial device. However, such kiosk talk can be a bit confusing. For instance, Microsoft recently described its regular Windows 10 client product, in combination with the April 2018 Update, as also being suitable for kiosks, particularly when using "Assigned Access."

Assigned Access is a Windows 10 feature that can be used to lock down the end user environment to a single application. An Assigned Access device might be used by a clerk in a retail store, or it could be used in a warehouse for inventory operations, for instance.

However, with the Windows 10 April 2018 Update, it's now possible for Assigned Access to permit the running of multiple applications, including Win32 and UWP apps, Microsoft announced last week. Moreover, Assigned Access now works with "Windows 10 Pro and higher, including in S Mode." S Mode is a more locked-down version of the operating system that will be coming to all Windows 10 editions. It only runs Windows Store apps, Bing search and the Internet Explorer or Microsoft Edge browsers.

The standard Windows 10 client with the April 2018 Update also now has a Windows Configuration Designer wizard available for provisioning a single-app kiosk device. It's also now possible to use the Microsoft Intune mobile management service to deploy kiosk devices. Microsoft also added the ability to generate error reports when Assigned Access apps have problems.

Lastly, Microsoft added a "Kiosk Browser app," based on Edge, which lets organizations refine the user experience. The Kiosk Browser app can be set to use a default URL, for instance, or it can "automatically clear user data between sessions."

Future Windows 10 updates will permit kiosk devices to get automatically set up when unboxed using Microsoft's Windows AutoPilot provisioning service, Microsoft promised. It'll also be possible to remotely reset a kiosk for Windows AutoPilot-provisioned machines.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.