Microsoft said that Azure Sphere is a "first of its kind solution" to protect connected devices at the edge -- those that depend on thumbnail-sized chips called microcontroller unit (MCU) devices. The new Azure Sphere offering will serve as a platform for developing highly secured MCU-powered devices. Azure Sphere will include a new class of more-powerful MCUs -- Microsoft plans to license the IP for the MCUs royalty-free to silicon manufacturers -- and a customized operating system that has been built with IoT security in mind. The offering will also provide a new cloud security service for protecting Azure Sphere devices, with features including security updates and upgrades for 10 years. "Azure Sphere will work alongside any cloud -- private or proprietary -- so that customers can continue to use their existing data infrastructure while adopting Azure Sphere’s groundbreaking security for their devices," Microsoft said in its blog post.