Microsoft To Invest $5bn For IoT Push

Microsoft has announced this week that it will invest $5 billion (£3.6bn) into developing its Internet of Things (IoT) services and products portfolio over the next four years.

The big investment comes as Redmond seeks to ensure it can deliver ‘connected solutions’ to businesses and customers in the years ahead.

Microsoft has been investing in IoT for a while now. This time last year for example it launched IoT Central – a SaaS service to provide businesses with a fully managed solution for setting up their IoT deployments.

R&D spend

“Today, we’re planning to dedicate even more resources to research and innovation in IoT and what is ultimately evolving to be the new intelligent edge,” blogged Julia White, VP at Microsoft Azure.

“With our IoT platform spanning cloud, OS and devices, we are uniquely positioned to simplify the IoT journey so any customer – regardless of size, technical expertise, budget, industry or other factors – can create trusted, connected solutions that improve business and customer experiences, as well as the daily lives of people all over the world,” she said.

“The investment we’re announcing today will ensure we continue to meet all our customers’ needs both now and in the future,” she added.

White said that Microsoft is “seeing the kind of increased adoption and exponential growth that analysts have been forecasting for years.”

Redmond believes the impact from IoT will be pervasive, from connected homes and cars to manufacturers to smart cities and utilities.

Microsoft’s $5bn investment will support its “continued innovation in our technology platform, as well as supporting programs.” This means the money will be used for continued research and development in key areas, “including securing IoT, creating development tools and intelligent services for IoT and the edge, and investments to grow our partner ecosystem.”

“Customers and partners can expect new products and services, offerings, resources and programs,” said White.

“We are committed to helping customers bring their vision to life across every industr,” said White. “Today’s announcement is big – for us and for the future of IoT and the intelligent edge. It positions us to support customers as they develop new and increasingly sophisticated IoT solutions, which few could have imagined just a few years ago.”

It is worth noting that while the $5bn IoT investment is significant, it is spread out over four years. For the record, last year Microsoft spent $13bn on R&D ($12bn in 2016, $12bn in 2015), so the four year investment should leave plenty of petty cash in the Redmond kitty for other projects.

IoT commitments

But there is little doubt that Microsoft has been betting heavily on the Internet of Things for while now.

In 2016 the firm announced that IoT was a “business revolution masquerading as a technology one.”

And it should be remembered that Microsoft already supplies its Azure cloud infrastructure as a platform for companies to build IoT services and networks upon.

In 2017 Redmond opened an Insider Lab dedicated to IoT and AI in Munich, after the launch of similar centres in Redmond, US and China.

These centres are designed to help businesses (both large and small) to tap into Microsoft’s expertise in order to develop IoT and AI technology.

Quiz: What do you know about the Internet of Things?

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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