Windows 10 IoT Enterprise: The New Professional Replacement for Industrial Computers

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Windows 10 IoT (Internet of Things) Enterprise represents a shift in Microsoft’s license policy, with an increased focus on hardware-based license options and a wider target audience range. This blog will cover how the latest generation of Enterprise is departing from Microsoft’s previous license structure, and explain exactly what this will mean for customers.

Windows 10 IoT Enterprise is Microsoft’s continuation of its embedded licensing range. It maintains the standards of its predecessors, offering everything found in a Professional license, in addition to business-centric features such as DirectAccess and AppLocker (these are covered later in this blog).

What is new to the latest OS is Microsoft’s decision to allocate separate licenses based on hardware specification. The standard license, once able to be installed in any system that met the minimum requirements, has now been broken down into three separate variants based on CPU selection: Entry, Value and High End.

  • Entry will support the lowest range of CPU, such as specific Intel Pentium, Celeron and Atom processors.
  • Value is designed around the mid-range CPUs, most notably Intel’s Core i3 and i5 range. Any Pentium, Celeron and Atom processor not listed under Entry will be supported by Value.
  • High End covers the leading performance processors: i7, Xeon and selected FX models.

An important distinction to make is that while licenses won’t support processors above their stated range, they will support processors in the brackets below. For example, Value will also support all Entry specified CPUs. This means that users do not have to worry about operating system compatibility if they need to change CPUs to an equivalent or downgraded version. These three variants also come with their own prices; Entry being the lowest cost and High End the highest. Both Entry and Value represent a cost saving against the Windows 10 Professional license. The High End license, however, is more expensive. The higher price will require users to evaluate whether the benefits of Enterprise IoT (such as DirectAccess and AppLocker) justify the cost increase. DirectAccess allows users to remotely access an intranet without the need for a VPN, while AppLocker allows administrators to limit the applications users can run. Both of these are ideal tools for ensuring a secure internal network.

This new structure fits in well with Captec’s newly released Industrial Computer Range, which has been engineered for flexible customisation offering 18 platform variants. The ability to select a different license depending on a customer’s requirements will potentially have a beneficial impact on price, as we can now use the less expensive Entry and Value variants wherever possible. An additional benefit of the Enterprise licenses is that although they are aimed at businesses, they can be procured in quantities as small as one.

In addition to separating licenses by hardware, another new feature that Windows 10 IoT Enterprise provides is three different service branches: Current Branch (CB), Current Branch for Business (CBB) and Long-Term Servicing Branch (LTSB). These servicing branches focus on allowing customers to decide what needs updating on their systems and how frequently.

CB is the most popular model, in which all feature updates are available for download as soon as Microsoft releases them. This version will be most beneficial to users and businesses that require access to new updates immediately. CB also applies all the latest security patches.

Computers that have the Current Build version of Windows 10 have the option of changing to, and from, Current Build for Business at any time; CBB is a configuration, not a separate license Stock Keeping Unit (SKU). CBB receives the same feature updates as CB; however updates are delayed for around four months before they are released. The reasoning behind this is businesses want to have confidence that their operating systems are stable and error free. To this end, delaying updates allows each build to be tested for functionality and stability using the CB version before release to CBB users. This version will be more suitable for most businesses, as stability is often prioritised over having the most up-to-date software. These licenses are more appropriate for Captec’s S-series IC-range products, which are ideal for environments where high functionality needs go hand-in-hand with stability.

Lastly is LTSB, designed to be used by mission-critical devices. Systems that fulfil a single role, such as medical equipment or ATMs, don’t require frequent updates. With LTSB, many features normally contained within Windows 10 are removed, such as Windows Store and Cortana. The justification is that if you are using LTSB for a specific business environment, features like these are unnecessary and a drain on vital system resources. It is clear that LTSB is not suitable for wide deployment throughout a business; instead installs of this version should be limited to aforementioned designated systems, where stability of software is the highest priority. This is especially applicable to certified systems where hardware and software need to be frozen to the certified level. We would be likely to recommend this version when specifying G-series IC Range platforms, as these solutions are ideal for industries such as oil and gas or defence, where systems perform mission-critical roles. Unlike CB and CBB, Long-Term Service Branch is a separate SKU and is not interchangeable with other variants.

Although this blog covers the basics, there is still room to discuss topics such as feature comparison between Enterprise and Pro. The motivation behind this blog was to illustrate how Windows 10 IoT Enterprise introduces an entirely new range of license options. At Captec, we will help you decide which version is right for your needs, based on hardware configuration and an in-depth understanding of the system application.

See the new industrial computer range in more detail here, or contact us to discuss your requirements.

Tagged in: Industrial Computers

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