Microsoft's custom Windows OS now on Galileo Gen2 board

Microsoft’s stripped-down version of Windows 8 is coming to the Intel Galileo Gen2 developer board.

The board, which started shipping in August, is used in smart devices, robots and Internet-connected appliances that run on Windows.

Do-it-yourself enthusiasts, also called “makers,” are big fans of developer boards, often using them to make experimental devices. But Microsoft hopes the maker community will come up with ideas that will put Windows into more products. Thus, Thursday’s announcement that Windows for Galileo Gen2 is available for download from Microsoft’s Github site.

The stripped-down OS was used with the original Galileo board, which developers put in a smart fan, a piano that connects to Microsoft’s Azure cloud service, and a robot that will deliver drinks to a specific room. The under-the-radar effort is part of Microsoft’s plan to expand in the Internet of Things market, which could represent a huge opportunity with the number of such connected devices expected to reach up to 50 billion by 2020.

The IoT developer program is growing fast, which bodes well for Microsoft’s plans to put Windows in smaller devices, said Steve Teixeira, the director of program management for IoT at Microsoft.

“While we’ve been running as fast as we can to get all of this done, the hardware has also moved forward,” Teixeira said in a blog post.

Microsoft has said it will put the OS on Intel’s faster MinnowBoard Max and indicated it may release developer boards for Windows RT and Phone.

The Galileo Gen2 is an incremental upgrade over the original Galileo board. Robots can move more accurately and 3D printers will have finer control with the improved PWM (pulse-width modulation) control line, which delivers more bits of resolution for better movement control. The general-purpose input/output port is more responsive and there is more support for expansion boards to create more electronics.

The developer board runs on a 32-bit Quark X1000 chip and has a clock speed of up to 400MHz. Other features include slots for USB, mini-PCI Express and Micro-SD cards, and support for Power over ethernet. It supports the Arduino scripting framework—which is used to define device behavior—within the Windows environment.

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