Microsoft Windows 10 IoT Enterprise licensing guide for IoT, dedicated-purpose devices

Johannesburg, 23 Jun 2021
Read time 3min 30sec

Dedicated-purpose (or fixed-function) devices are built to perform a pre-defined set of tasks. They are preloaded and delivered with the operating system and the application. Such devices are used in retail, factory automation, healthcare, signage, security/surveillance and transportation applications.

They typically have special requirements like longer lifecycles, controlled Windows updates, global deployment capabilities, etc. To support these requirements, Microsoft created the “IoT” family of products and offers several products to support OEM requirements.

Figure 1: Dedicated-Purpose vs. General Purpose Devices.
Figure 1: Dedicated-Purpose vs. General Purpose Devices.

The Windows 10 “IoT” editions are available in several versions to fit specific types of embedded and IoT devices. The Enterprise editions are based on Windows 10 Enterprise but provide many additional features focused on OEMs building IoT devices. The differences between the versions are centred on usage and licensing terms. The table below compares the licensing channels and can guide OEMs on the correct channel to use when building dedicated appliances vs general-purpose devices.

Table 1: Comparison of the licensing channels available for Windows 10 IoT Enterprise.
Table 1: Comparison of the licensing channels available for Windows 10 IoT Enterprise.

Qualifications for using the Windows 10 IoT Enterprise LTSC licence option

Windows 10 IoT Enterprise LTSC is an OEM Embedded offering, meaning this channel is appropriate for OEMs building dedicated systems that require a longer lifecycle and functional stability over many years. To qualify for the OEM IoT Embedded licensing model, these requirements must be met:

  • The application is for a specific purpose only and cannot be used with general-purpose PCs.
  • The applications cannot be used with other commercial applications such as accounting, e-mail, word processing and CRM.
  • The embedded application must be pre-installed with the operating system on the device and shipped with the hardware.
Figure 2: Dedicated-Purpose Device.
Figure 2: Dedicated-Purpose Device.

Windows 10 IoT Enterprise LTSC

Based on the full version of Windows 10 Enterprise, the IoT LTSC edition changes the licence terms to focus on OEMs that build dedicated appliances, and the Long Term Service Channel provides for 10 years of support while locking into a single build version of Windows 10. OEMs no longer need to worry about new features or new builds of Windows 10 being pushed to the device which could in some cases cause a problem with their appliance. This gives OEMs full control over Windows updates and simplifies the support for systems. Further, the cost can be lowered based on the processor model, allowing lower-performing devices to have a lower cost. 

Windows 10 IoT editions

The Windows 10 IoT editions provide different options for OEMs to align with their solutions:

  • Windows 10 IoT Core is ideal for smaller devices that only run a single application. It only supports Windows 10 Universal Applications and doesn’t have a regular Windows shell.
  • Windows 10 IoT Enterprise Semi-Annual Channel (SAC) is based on full Windows 10 Enterprise supports Win32 and Win10 Universal Applications. The SAC edition allows devices to stay current on the latest build but offers less control of Windows updates and has a much shorter support timeframe with only 18 to 30 months maximum of support.
  • Windows 10 IoT Enterprise Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) is the most popular edition as it is based on the full Windows 10 Enterprise. However, many of the consumer features such as Xbox, weather, news and other retail-based applications have been removed. It also locks devices into a single build of Windows 10 and allows full control of Windows updates.

Also, 10 years of support and a great pricing model are compelling advantages for most OEMs.

Win 10 IoT Enterprise vs. Win 10 Professional

Many OEMs building systems for customers make the mistake of using the preloaded direct OEM licence for Windows 10 Professional or purchase the OEM System Builder version of Windows 10 Professional. For OEMs building a dedicated appliance, Microsoft created the OEM IoT Embedded channel-specific for dedicated appliances. Windows 10 IoT Enterprise LTSC comes with many features and advantages over the traditional Windows 10 Professional.

Table 2: Comparison of Win 10 IoT Enterprise vs. Win 10 Professional.
Table 2: Comparison of Win 10 IoT Enterprise vs. Win 10 Professional.

For more information please contact Victor Gonsalves

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