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Microsoft Accelerates IoT Efforts with Express Logic Acquisition

May 16, 2019 by Luke James

In a press release on April 18th, Microsoft announced its acquisition of California-based firm Express Logic, a provider of real-time operating systems for IoT and industrial embedded devices.

This acquisition is part of their wider $5 billion investment strategy into IoT technologies. Recently, Microsoft has been making significant strides with its IoT operations through significant investments.

Their recent acquisition of Express Logic follows on from the company's 2018 announcement that Microsoft would invest $5 billion in the IoT between 2019 and 2023 and is a clear indicator that Microsoft may be working on building their very own end-to-end, 100 per cent Microsoft-operated IoT platform.


Who Is Express Logic?

Express Logic, founded in 1996, is a California-based developer of real-time operating systems (RTOS) and other middleware products specifically for embedded IoT applications. Since its founding in 1996, Express Logic has been widely recognised as an industry leader thanks to their best-of-class industrial grade and enterprise-level products.

Express Logic ThreadX RTOS

Their flagship product, the Express Logic ThreadX RTOS, is built specifically for microcontrollers. This RTOS forms the foundation for Express Logic's X-Ware IoT platform which includes FileX (embedded file support), GUIX (embedded UI support), NetX/NetX Duo (embedded TCP/IP and cloud connectivity) and USBX.

According to market research, ThreadX RTOS has been deployed in well over 6 billion devices and it remains one of the most highly-appraised RTOS available on the market.

Simply put, ThreadX is an operating system designed for devices that don't have the same processing power as computers, e.g. most IoT devices.

Microsoft's RTOS: Windows 10 IoT Core

This isn't the first time Microsoft has dealt with an RTOS; they have their own one, but the addition of Express Logic's industry-leading RTOS will enable Microsoft to expand the market for their own RTOS.


What This Acquisition Means for Microsoft

By acquiring Express Logic, Microsoft is allowing itself to broaden its IoT horizons, produce more IoT devices, and perhaps develop its own end-to-end IoT ecosystem.

Since ThreadX RTOS is already deployed in a huge number of devices, Microsoft has the potential to open themselves up to additional devices and clients. Also, by using ThreadX RTOS, Microsoft will make it a lot easier for electronics developers and engineers to create Azure-compatible devices.

This should mean that manufacturers should be able to make their devices ready for use with Azure from the get-go. In turn, this will increase the number of devices that can connect to Microsoft's IoT platform and aid its growth and the development of further products.


Electronic chip. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.


"Our goal is to make Express Logic's ThreadX RTOS available as an option for real-time processing requirements on an Azure Sphere device and also enable ThreadX-powered devices to connect to Azure IoT Edge devices when the IoT solution calls for edge computing capabilities," said Microsoft's director of Azure IoT, Sam George, in a press release published this April.

In their own press release, Express Logic stated that "As part of Microsoft, we believe our customers will be even better positioned to unlock exciting new capabilities of the IoT".


Closing the Gap

Thanks to their acquisition of Express Logic, Microsoft can provide operating systems for a large range of devices, including microcontrollers, both locally and in the cloud. It has also given Microsoft access to millions of existing devices that are IoT ready and waiting to turn into smart devices.

The acquisition puts Microsoft in good stead for IoT market dominance where Amazon Web Services (AWS) currently leads the way. With its now broader range of OS options, Microsoft should be able to close the gap between themselves and AWS as they take on the role of a more prominent IoT solutions provider.

Express Logic's RTOS alongside Microsoft's secure and scalable Azure IoT platform will undoubtedly turn Microsoft into the IoT industry leader.

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