Microsoft launches Windows 11 IoT Enterprise: Exploring the Facts with CKS

In October, Microsoft announced their plans to release a new version of their Windows for IoT product family, reaffirming their commitment to deliver cutting edge innovation to the IoT market.

It has been six years since the last mainline version of Windows was launched and this marks a new era for Microsoft in the IoT space. With that in mind let’s take a look at the facts with Richard Bickers, IT Manager at Distec partner CKS Global Solutions.


What are the new features of the Windows 11 update?

Windows 11 IoT Enterprise will deliver new features and functionality that will enable the Windows for IoT ecosystem to build innovative and modern devices.

The first new feature is the Windows Subsystem for Linux GUI, which means customers will be able use the new Windows Subsystem for Linux GUI (WSLg) to bring Linux GUI applications to the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL).

Windows are also bringing support to the Universal Serial Bus 4 (USB4) for significantly faster transfer speeds, better port usage, and the ability to provide tunnelling to external devices. Windows are also looking to the future of connectivity with their new Wi-Fi 6E support for IoT devices, which gives you better wireless coverage and performance with added security.

The update is also going to be more accessible for disabled customers. With improvements that are built for and by people with disabilities, the design, and deployment of IoT devices will be easier for customers who have previously experienced difficulties using their devices.


What does this mean for licensing?

There is currently no official licensing white paper for Windows 11 however there are rumours that Microsoft will follow the exact same licensing module as Windows 10. This means that select Windows 10 editions will be able to be upgraded to the relevant Windows 11 edition FoC from 2022.

The date of the release will have a knock-on effect on the support offered by Microsoft. As the software was released October 5th, 2021, it technically falls under the “SAC” (Semi-Annual Channel) version and as a result, will only have 36 months of support. This means that Windows 11 Pro will not be available as a stand-alone product until sometime in 2022 and the LTSC (Long Term Service Channel) will not be released until after 2023.


What are the hardware requirements?

With the improvements to the software, Windows 11 have also increased their minimum hardware requirements. The system firmware for example, must be UEFI, Secure Boot capable and the Trusted Platform Module (TPM) must be version 2.0. The RAM requirements have increased to 4GB vs 2GB for Windows 10 and the storage requirements are now 64GB. Officially supported CPUs now need to be 8th Gen Intel and above or newer, though there are a few specific 7th Gen i7 CPUs have been listed as being supported for use with Windows 11. The display size is required to be at least 9 inches / 1366 x 768 minimum resolution with the graphics card compatible with DirectX 12 or later with WDDM 2.0 driver. Windows 11 itself also requires internet connectivity and a Microsoft account. It is worth noting at this point, however, that these requirements are subject to change, and it is always worth checking on sourcing hardware before moving over to Windows 11.


TPM for Windows

Microsoft has also announced that it will require TPM for Windows 11 installation. A TPM stands for Trusted Platform Module, and is either a physical chip soldered onto the motherboard or a module that is plugged into a motherboard with an exposed header, both make a unique digital footprint for your computer which is then required to access the information stored on it. This protects your data as hackers are far less likely to have physical access to your machine which is required when a TPM is installed.

Additionally, it’s worth noting that the TPM modules that can be fitted to onboard headers are being widely discussed, however firmware TPM can also be used (fTPM) such as Intel’s Platform Truth Technology, or PTT,  which is found in certain Intel chipsets.


What does all this mean for Windows 10?

Windows 10 IoT Enterprise LTSC still has a 10-year lifecycle, this means that a lot of the support currently associated with Windows 10 releases will come to an end. The current Windows 10 IoT Enterprise LTSC 2019 End of Life date is 11/30/2028 and the end of support for this edition will end just under a year afterwards on the 1st of September 2029. Windows 10 IoT Enterprise LTSC 2021 will be released soon and will be supported until approximately a decade after release while Windows 10 Pro end of support is October 2025.

While we don’t expect this announcement to effect customers in the short-term, new additions of Windows for IoT marks an exciting time for businesses who can use the ecosystem to build a culture of innovation. New features and increased processing powers will create opportunities to improve efficiency and give you a competitive edge in the market.


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