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Microsoft Releases Windows 11 IoT Enterprise

Windows 11 IoT Enterprise is now  generally available, Microsoft announced this week.        

The new operating system will be "delivered as an upgrade to eligible devices running Windows 10 IoT Enterprise, beginning on October 5, 2021," Microsoft explained in a "What's New" document. Arrival of Windows 11 IoT Enterprise is controlled through tools such as "Windows Update for Business and Microsoft Endpoint Manager," but the OS will arrive via the Windows Update service for eligible unmanaged devices, the document indicated.

Nothing was mentioned in Microsoft's announcement about a Windows 11 IoT Core product. Microsoft had released its Windows Server IoT 2022 product last month.

The IoT (Internet of things) products previously were known as Microsoft's "Windows Embedded" operating systems. These OSes are typically used by software and original equipment manufacturing (OEM) partners to build specialized devices.

Microsoft also describes these specialized devices as "fixed purpose devices." Examples include "ATM machines, point-of-sale terminals, industrial automation systems, thin clients, medical devices, digital signage, kiosks" and more, per a "Licensing and Usage" document.

Windows IoT licenses are obtained from Microsoft's partners, as described in this document (PDF download).

Three Years of Support
Windows 11 IoT Enterprise is notable for not falling under Microsoft's long-term servicing channel (LTSC) release cycle, which typically provides 10 years of support. Instead, Windows 11 IoT Enterprise is just getting three years of support.

That change in the Windows 11 IoT Enterprise support period is notably different from the prior model available with Windows 10 IoT Enterprise. For instance, the Windows 10 IoT Enterprise LTSC product has 10 years of support. There's also a Windows 10 IoT Enterprise semiannual channel (SAC) product that's supported for "18 to 30 months," per the "Licensing and Usage" document.

Windows 11 IoT Enterprise isn't available currently as an LTSC release, and it may never get released as such.

"Today's Windows 11 IoT Enterprise release is not an LTSC release and instead will have a servicing timeline of 36 months from the month of the release as described in the product lifecycle documentation," the announcement indicated.

Microsoft might have described the Windows 11 IoT Enterprise release as a SAC release, but it perhaps can't use that term because Windows 11 IoT Enterprise just gets one feature update each year.

It's not clear if an LTSC option with Windows 11 IoT Enterprise will be coming. Here's how it was put in this "Getting Started with Windows IoT Enterprise" document:

Windows 10 IoT Enterprise offers both LTSC and SAC options, and OEMs can choose the one they need for their devices. At this time Windows 11 IoT Enterprise is only available as an
annual release. For more information on how to reach out to a Windows IoT Distributor or how to purchase a license, review Licensing & Usage.

Microsoft's announcement did indicate that it's planning to release Windows 10 IoT Enterprise 21H2 in the second half of this year, and that it will have 10 years of support. The timing of the release wasn't described, though.

New Features in Windows 11 IoT Enterprise
Microsoft explained in its "Getting Started" document that Windows IoT Enterprise "is a binary equivalent to Windows Enterprise, so you can use the same familiar development and management tools as client PCs and laptops."

The new features in Windows 11 IoT Enterprise likely are quite similar to its Windows 11 Enterprise desktop equivalent. It has the same new user interface design, for instance. Microsoft also emphasized a few other features. 

Windows 11 IoT Enterprise has support for graphical user interface (GUI) Linux applications using the Windows Subsystem for Linux GUI feature. Previously, just command-line interface based Linux apps were supported.

Windows 11 IoT Enterprise has support for Universal Serial Bus 4 and Wi-Fi 6E standards. It also has accessibility improvements to help people with disabilities.

Windows IoT Launch Summit on Oct. 19
Microsoft is planning to talk about the product's features and functionalities in an upcoming "Windows for IoT Launch Summit," starting on Tuesday, Oct. 19.

This free four-hour event is available in two time periods: at 7:00 a.m. Pacific Time and at 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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