The Internet of Things (IoT) is no longer a technological marvel happening in the distant future. The technical obstacles that have held up progress in the interconnection of just about everything have been overcome, and an explosion of new services, devices, and applications is just around the corner. Make no mistake about it, the way we live our collective lives is about to change.
Microsoft plans to play a major role in the IoT universe, so when Windows 10 becomes available on July 29, 2015, it will support the open-source standard AllJoyn. Developed by the AllSeen Alliance, AllJoyn is a common language all IoT devices can use to communicate. This native support means that any Windows 10 device can control any AllJoyn-aware device in the network.
Microsoft and open source
The AllSeen Alliance includes over 150 companies from around the world that have joined together to create an open-source standard framework supporting communication between things. Being open source, AllJoyn will work on all the major platforms, including Linux, Windows, Android, and Apple iOS. However, it is notable that Microsoft is the only commercial operating system developer in the alliance. Both Apple and Google have developed their own frameworks for the IoT.
The goal of the AllSeen Alliance and the AllJoyn protocol is to make connecting things to the network a simple plug-and-play experience. Plug in your brand new LG 79" class 2160P Smart 3D Ultra HD 4K TV and it's immediately seen and connected to any AllJoyn device on the network. In particular, Microsoft wants that connection to be to any Windows 10 device. There are numerous devices already supporting the AllJoyn protocol, and more are sure to follow.
Why you should care
From a business perspective, IoT is where big data analytics will reveal its true power. All of these interconnected devices are going to be continually sending feedback data for seemingly mundane facts, like how long the lights have been on. This plethora of data will be systematically analyzed to reveal patterns that can be exploited to save costs, increase revenues, direct advertising, and establish customer relationships, among other things.
By tapping into all of the IoT- generated data, companies may end up knowing more about you than you do yourself. And the more interoperable the AllJoyn framework is, the more data there will be to work with. Where all of this data collection will lead and what it means for concepts like privacy is an open question, but rest assured that things are going to be different.
As the only operating system natively supporting AllJoyn, Windows 10 will be a major conduit for all this data flow. This gives Microsoft a decided edge over Google and Apple in the IoT universe. Consider this: On July 29, 2015, the number of AllJoyn-aware devices will jump from around 10 million to over a billion, assuming a majority "update" to Windows 10, of course.
From the consumer perspective, Windows 10 support of the AllJoyn framework means that creating a smart home, for example, is going to get much easier. All you need to do is buy AllJoyn-enabled devices, connect them to your local network, and control them from any Windows 10 device you own. No configuration settings, no manuals... just plug-and-play.
The way everything works is about to change because the IoT is about to become an everyday reality. By supporting the open-source standard that makes communication between things possible in Windows 10, Microsoft has positioned itself to be a prominent player.
Do you think the IoT is a terrific idea that should be embraced wholeheartedly, or does the whole idea make you a bit nervous?
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Mark W. Kaelin has been writing and editing stories about the IT industry, gadgets, finance, accounting, and tech-life for more than 25 years. Most recently, he has been a regular contributor to BreakingModern.com, aNewDomain.net, and TechRepublic.