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Microsoft announced it acquired Express Logic, an embedded software company, for an undisclosed sum. Express Logic’s real-time operating system (RTOS), ThreadX RTOS, is purpose-built for microcontrollers — chips programmed for a single purpose.
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Here’s what it means: Microsoft’s acquisition of Express Logic will allow it to expand its IoT footprint to more devices.
- ThreadX RTOS is a purpose-built operating system for devices that don’t have the processing power of computers, such as IoT devices. ThreadX RTOS is a specialized operating system designed to serve real-time applications on resource-constrained devices powered by microcontrollers.
- The operating system is already widely installed. ThreadX RTOS is currently deployed in over 6.2 billion devices, according to Synopsis. Offering support for a wide base of devices can increase the utility and functionality of Microsoft’s platform and open its use to additional clients.
- ThreadX RTOS will allow Microsoft to offer an easier way for electronics makers to develop Azure-compatible devices. Microsoft already has an RTOS called Windows 10 IoT Core, but the addition of Express Logic and its wide distribution could help the company expand the accessible market for its RTOS. Microsoft can enable manufacturers to automatically make their devices compatible with Azure out of the box, which will increase the number of devices that can seamlessly connect to the company’s IoT platform.
The bigger picture: The Express Logic acquisition positions Microsoft to offer IoT platform solutions for a range of devices — and to better challenge AWS for market dominance.
With the acquisition of Express Logic, Microsoft can now provide operating systems for devices ranging from servers and PCs to microcontrollers locally and on the cloud. With its broad range of operating systems options, Microsoft is aiming to assume a role as a more encompassing IoT provider than Amazon’s AWS.
Microsoft is chasing AWS for market leadership — in 2019 AWS had a 34% share of the IoT cloud market while Microsoft was second with a 23% market share, according to Eclipse. The inclusion of the ThreadX RTOS into Microsoft’s Azure IoT will give Microsoft billions of potential devices that it can seamlessly integrate into its platform, which it likely hopes will boost adoption of its services and boost its market share.
This move is part of Microsoft’s ongoing effort to bulk up its IoT platform services and products as it seeks to catch up to AWS in the IoT platform market. For example, in April 2018 the company announced it would invest $5 billion over the next four years in IoT and intelligent edge product innovation.
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