Microsoft has brought .NET to the World of Robotics
Seeing parallels between the computer industry of 30 years ago and the robotics industry of today, Microsoft is determined to not be left out of the next big thing. For their initial play, Microsoft has released the Microsoft Robotics Studio.
The robots industry, much like the computer industry of yesteryear, is a fragmented mess. There are countless hardware platforms, processors, and operating systems. Moving from one robot to the next can involve extensive retraining on the language and API de jour.
Just like in the PC market, this situation cannot last forever. As the demand for robotics increase, market pressures to reduce costs will result in the need for de facto standards. Following the original DOS game plan, Microsoft wants to set those standards by providing the software platform that abstracts away the differences between the different hardware systems.
According to a Microsoft Press Pass interview,
The Japanese Robot Association predicts that by 2025, the personal robot industry will be worth more than $50 billion a year worldwide.
With potential like that, it is no wonder Microsoft wants in on the ground floor. And in order to gain the widest possible audience, Microsoft is bringing managed code to the world of robotics.
In the past, languages with very small memory footprints like C or even assembly were used to program robots. As memory sizes increase, the use of managed code such as C# or VB becomes far more feasible. Even dynamic languages such as IronPython can be used.
Microsoft Robotics Studio is free to download for hobbyists and students. Commercial developers will need to purchase a license, which currently runs for $399.