Microsoft is challenging Linux's domination in Raspberry Pi-type computers by bringing support for Windows 10 OS to more developer boards.
The newest computer to get a version of Windows 10 will be Intel's Joule, which has cutting-edge hardware compared to Raspberry Pi 3.
To be specific, Joule will get support for Windows 10 IoT Core -- a slimmed down version of Windows 10 -- by year-end, Microsoft said in a blog post last week. Joule currently supports only the Linux OS.
With Windows 10 IoT Core, Joule can be used to develop gadgets, robots, drones, wearables, medical devices, and smart industrial devices. The OS is supported by four other mini-computers -- Raspberry Pi 2 and 3, Qualcomm's DragonBoard 410c, and Intel's MinnowMax.
Microsoft is tapping into the community of enthusiasts developing new devices to push into the internet of things market. Expanding Windows 10 IoT Core support to more boards will give the company wider access to makers.
Raspberry Pi may be the most the popular board computer, but Intel's Joule is perhaps the most complete, with superior hardware and wide OS support. It has a 64-bit Atom processor, 4K graphics, DDR4 memory, and 802.11ac connectivity. But at US$369.99, it is much more expensive than the $35 Raspberry Pi 3.
Microsoft's Windows operating systems have worked well with Intel x86 processors, but most IoT devices are based on ARM processors, which power Raspberry Pi 3.
The Windows OS is available for free for developer boards. Windows 10 IoT Core will give Joule users access to Azure cloud, which helps tack on services to gadgets.
Microsoft recently delivered the Anniversary Update for Windows 10 IoT Core. It has a new feature called Windows IoT Remote Client so boards like Joule can be remotely accessed by smartphones and PCs.
The update also has better communication tools. An adapter called IoTivity AllJoyn Device System Bridge allows devices based on two separate standards -- the Intel-backed Open Interconnect Consortium (OIC) and Microsoft-backed AllSeen Alliance -- to communicate. The discovery and security specifications from both organizations will be merged into new protocols of the Open Connectivity Foundation, which will have native Windows 10 support next year.
The Joule board was introduced by Intel last month and will come in multiple versions. The Joule 570x has a 1.7GHz Atom T5700 processor, 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM, and 16GB of storage. Intel will later release Joule 550x, which will have a 1.5GHz Atom T5500 CPU, 3GB of LPDDR4 memory, and 8GB of storage.
The Joule 570x has expansion ports regularly found on developer boards and interfaces to attach Intel's 3D RealSense camera.