Microsoft has joined what began as a Linux Foundation effort to create an open platform for the Internet of Things. It's a move that may be telling about Microsoft's plans for home automation, and even for the Xbox.
The Linux Foundation, a nonprofit consortium that promotes Linux adoption, late last year announced the creation of the AllSeen Alliance. The alliance is charged with promoting an open source code framework that enables devices to discover one another, connect and interact.
The biggest vendors are building competing platforms, and these separate approaches to device-to-device communications may hinder development of the Internet of Things.
The AllSeen Alliance is an effort to standardize device communications. The code, called AllJoyn, was initially developed by Qualcomm, and was then made open source. Big vendors were recruited to support it, and the list now includes LG, Panasonic, Sharp and Haier, among others.
There are now 51 organizations in this alliance, with Microsoft the latest.
"The addition of Microsoft to the Alliance is certainly a boost to the growing array of companies joining the AllSeen effort," said Andy Castonguay, an analyst at Machina Research, a M2M and IoT research firm in the UK.
Microsoft's leadership in computing "and its significant Xbox business make it a potentially important contributor to the AllSeen ecosystem," said Castonguay.
Microsoft is interested in home automation, and recently announced an agreement to work with an insurance company on home automation technology. It gaming platform Xbox is also see a potential hub or control center for home devices.
With Apple, Samsung and others "still developing their own independent strategies, the industry is yet again poised to create a Tower of Babel situation in terms of inter-device communications," said Castonguay.
AllSeen "is a well-founded effort to create an open lingua franca among device manufacturers and developers, that will benefit from the growing diversity of device brands in the global market," said Castonguay.
Patrick Thibodeau covers cloud computing and enterprise applications, outsourcing, government IT policies, data centers and IT workforce issues for Computerworld. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @DCgov or subscribe to Patrick's RSS feed. His e-mail address is [email protected].
Read more about open source in Computerworld's Open Source Topic Center.