A lot of software developers must be wondering if hell is freezing over. Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) has released its own version of Linux for the Internet of Things (IoT) as part of its Azure Sphere operating system.
“This OS incorporates a custom Linux kernel that has been optimized for an IoT environment and reworked with security innovations pioneered in Windows to create a highly-secured software environment,” a Microsoft press release states. Azure Sphere is a customized cloud-integrated operating system (OS) for chips that are connected to the IoT.
Azure Sphere is supposed to offer a far-higher level of security to protect IoT devices from malware and cyberattacks. The hope is to build a cloud that will serve as an operating system for the IoT.
Azure Sphere is a next-generation operating system for microcontrollers the tiny chips that control IoT-enabled devices. The market for it is potentially huge because microcontrollers run everything from refrigerators to elevators to industrial robots.
Microsoft is building Giant Botnets
One use of the Azure Sphere will be to create massive botnets networks of digital robots designed to operate large numbers of machines at once, Ars Technica reported.
Many such botnets already exist but they are highly vulnerable to cyber-attacks. The massive distributed denial of service (DDOS) attack that took down several major websites; including Twitter, CNN, Reddit, and The Guardian, in October 2016 struck through the IoT via the Mirai Botnet.
The Azure Sphere includes a new class of microcomputers or MCUs which will run both Windows and Linux. The MCUs will be provided to manufacturers on a royalty-free basis to encourage their use. In other words, Microsoft is planning to promote Azure Sphere with a freemium.
Microsoft Positioned for the Post-PC World
Microsoft’s hope is to secure the IoT by creating its own botnets which will encompass both Linux and Windows devices. A major goal is to block DDOS attacks which can create major headaches for Microsoft.
Another is to position Microsoft to cash in on the coming addition of digital robots and artificial intelligence to the IoT. Such applications are likely to be big business in the near future, particularly when companies like Aitheon start delivering them through the blockchain.
A major use of Azure Sphere will be delivering security solutions for IoT devices. Another will be a secure environment for the delivery of software, AI, and robots to run IoT Machines.
Azure’s services will include security patches for IoT infrastructure for up to 10 years after manufacture. One reason for that is to keep the bad guys from using IoT vulnerability to attack Windows and other Microsoft solutions which can be costly for the company.
Last year Microsoft had to go back and offer a fix for ransomware aimed at Windows XP; an operating system it abandoned over a decade ago, The Verge reported. The fear is that older IoT devices will create a gaping security hole in the cloud that bad guys can exploit.
It looks as if Microsoft is successfully positioning itself for a post-PC and post-Windows world. Smart gadgets might form the basis of the next moneymaking solution from Microsoft.