It’s Time For Windows 10 IoT
This is a guest blog post by Ken Marlin
Windows 10 is coming! Quickly in fact. It’ll be here July 29th, 2015 and that leaves very little time to get ready. You may have seen an article or two on the 6 versions of Windows 10 but I’m going to cover all 10 editions. In the past 8 months, I’ve attended a ton trainings on Windows 10 and visited the Redmond Campus 6 times. Microsoft has been upfront about Windows 10 and they have provided information on a monthly basis, but the time has come – it’s here and it “IS” the O/S you will want moving forward!
10 VERSIONS OF WINDOWS 10
The news recently covered 6 or 7 versions of Windows 10 but most articles were leaving out the embedded (now called IoT) family of products. If you include the OEM Embedded versions, you jump to the wonderful count of 10 different flavors of Windows 10. See the Full list below.
Windows 10 Home – Non Domain for Home Users focused on Consumers
Windows 10 Pro – Domain connected for Business and Expert users.
Windows 10 Enterprise – A Volume upgraded edition that adds Corporate Security and other Features
Windows 10 Education – A Volume edition via Academic licensing for Schools/Faculty/Students
Windows 10 Mobile – Avail Direct Only for Smartphones and Small Tablets (Win Phone Replacement)
Windows 10 Mobile Enterprise – Volume Upgrade adds Enterprise Security/Features to Mobile Devices
Note Microsoft has renamed “Embedded” to “IoT” for Internet Of Things. Here are the new Embedded flavors of Windows now named using the “IoT” tag.
Windows 10 IoT Enterprise – Embedded Industry Edition with Embedded Lockdown Features
Windows 10 IoT Mobile – Embedded Direct Only option for Smartphones/Small Tablets
Windows 10 IoT Core – Free of Charge for small x86 and ARM devices – no Shell provided.
.Net Micro Framework – Free and Open Source with support for very low-end ARM devices.
Free! Well not for every version and for a limited time but let me explain: Consumer and OEM System Builder versions will be a free “Upgrade” from Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 editions where you have a legal license.
What about the Embedded (IoT) family of Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 products – do they qualify for the upgrade? It depends. The FES family known as the For Embedded Systems products because they are 100% bit for bit identical to the full Windows products, will be eligible for the free upgrade. As long as those FES devices are connected to the internet and have Windows Updates enabled, they will get the free upgrade notification allowing them to be upgraded for free to Windows 10 Pro. However the WES and POS/Industry family would not qualify for this limited time free upgrade.
What about the Enterprise Volume license space for Win7 and Win 8.1? At this time the answer is no. Many customers who use the Enterprise Volume license typically have Software Assurance and if you have activate SA then you would in fact be getting the rights to Windows 10 Enterprise but only if your SA is active.
ELEVATOR PITCH – What’s it get me if I upgrade?
Most importantly it gets you a familiar user experience that your users will already be comfortable in using. Secondly it gets you the ability to run not only all your Win32/Win7/Win8 applications but it also adds a new Universal Application platform that allows the Apps written to work on all Windows 10 devices across device sizes including Xbox One, Windows Phone, Tablets, Desktops and even the new Surface Hub – 80” Display. It has improved security with the new “Hello” biometrics and face recognition capability as well as new DirectX12 graphic performance enhancements. They’ve also added a new Modern Browser called “Edge” that will compete with top Browsers on the market while keeping the IE11 version for backwards compatibility. Lastly, for a period of one year the product is free for consumer home use so I suggest you download it today or reserve you free copy via Windows Update.
EMBEDDED IoT OEM’s – What’s in it for me?
To start with a very simplified roadmap and a product family that has a unified toolset which gets you the ability to write applications once then run them across the entire Windows 10 family of devices. If you are building a small x86 or Arm device with low specifications you can use the Windows 10 IoT for Core devices which is now a free license. If you are building a device that requires more horsepower and would already have the Windows shell then you have the simplified choice of Windows 10 IoT for Enterprise/Industry devices. One part number and family to work with and one toolkit to work with.
HOW TO GET IT TODAY
Signup for the Tech Preview and look within your MSDN Subscription as the latest build is available via the MSDN download site. Lastly, watch for the Windows 10 reserve your copy balloon notification if you have a Windows 7 Pro/Ult or Windows 8.1 Pro system with the latest updates. It arrives July 29th. Get the Preview today from here: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/preview-iso
THE EMBEDDED IOT CONCERN
If you built your OEM appliance using the For Embedded System versions of Windows 7 Pro/Ult or Windows 8.1 Pro and the device is connected to the internet with updates enabled you need to beware that the Windows 10 Free upgrade notifications have officially started. It means your device could very well be displaying a notification to users to reserve the Windows 10 upgrade which will go live July 29th. Most OEMs probably do not want this notification to be displayed on their appliance nor would they want the end-user to upgrade the device to Windows 10 because the application would not have been tested on Windows 10 and could break the appliance.
The latest information provided to our Embedded OEMs help set a registry key that will block any O/S upgrades. You can use group policy (which sets a registry key) or you can use the key directly. The group policy already exists on any PC which installed these KBs: Windows 7 SP1 – KB3050265 or Windows 8.1 Update – KB3050267.
Customers or OEMs should look for the Group Policy at this path:
Computer Configuration / Administrative Templates / Windows Components / Windows Update
It is called “Turn off the upgrade” to the latest version of Windows through Windows Update. If the group policy is set, then an OS Upgrade will never be detected, downloaded, or installed on that PC. The OS Upgrade applicability will look at the Policy registry key that’s set when you enable that policy:
DWORD: DisableOSUpgrade == 1 when that policy is set
These two KB articles will be updated with the following note:
This update also installs a new group policy that allows you to block upgrades to the latest version of Windows through Windows Update. Computers with this policy applied will never detect, download or install an upgrade to the latest version of Windows.
Policy Path: Computer Configuration / Administrative Templates / Windows Components / Windows Update
Policy setting: Turn off the upgrade to the latest version of Windows through Windows Update (enabled, disabled)
Embedded OEMs love WES7 because it had by-pass activation built into the product. If you have a device that you did not want to connect to the internet then WES7 was a great choice. Flash forward to Windows 10 and now with the Windows 10 IoT Enterprise edition you will receive a single PID/Key and your device will run without any activation notifications as long as it is not connected to the internet. If you do connect it to the internet then it will attempt to activate and will do so in the background without Windows 10 IoTany notifications. It’s a quiet type method of activation.
SINGLE TOOLKIT FOR ALL EDITIONS – WICD
Windows Image Configuration Designer – pronounced “Wicked” is the new tool that has been heavily simplified and covers all editions. Download it today and start practicing with the new tool.
I’ll close by suggesting again that you go download the latest Tech Preview and start testing. I’ve been running the Tech Preview since last November and it is proving to be the edition where Microsoft listened to the users and developers. It’s the edition to move your projects toward.
The Ninja Cat meme has been embraced by Windows Insiders everywhere as well as Microsoft. To learn more and download a copy of a Ninja Cat image for your device check out this article.
About the Author
Based in Phoenix, Ariz., Ken Marlin is a Microsoft MVP and Microsoft Champion at Avnet Embedded. He has over 25 years of Microsoft experience supporting all Microsoft products and programs with specialties in Microsoft OEM Embedded appliances as well as OEM System Builder and Volume programs. Ken is very passionate about technology in general and is also a Game Master for the annual Avnet Tech Games Competition. He is a first time contributor to the GuruCE blog. More about Ken here.