On Azure Sphere, the Retail Evaluation Azure Sphere OS (Retail Eval) feed gives you the opportunity to test your devices for compatibility against a soon-to-be-released update of the Azure Sphere OS. During the Retail Eval phase you have 2-3 weeks to ensure that there are no compatibility issues before the new version of the Azure Sphere OS is promoted to the Retail Azure Sphere OS (Retail) feed. Retail Eval is your last chance to find issues before the new OS is deployed broadly.
Call to action
Our ask is to have some subset of your devices running the Retail Eval OS, and have representative applications or tests running on these devices. You’ll need to put those devices in a default or custom device group that receives the Retail Eval feed, as described in the online documentation.
If you encounter any compatibility issues, contact your Microsoft Technical Account Manager (TAM) immediately so that we can assess and address the issue before we release the OS software to the Retail feed. Additionally, the devices can be moved back to Retail if need be.
The benefit to being on Retail Eval
Above and beyond simply doing additional device compatibility testing of your application, running on Retail Eval allows you to potentially find issues with the soon-to-be-released version of the Azure Sphere OS that could impact your device. While the Azure Sphere OS team does extensive testing to eliminate the chances of incompatibility, issues can happen. The Azure Sphere OS team does not want your device adversely impacted either. So, if there is an issue in the OS, we can investigate, and if necessary, delay promotion of Retail Eval to Retail. Our goal with Retail Eval is to ensure that any compatibility issues on your devices are found and fixed before the OS goes to Retail.
Why does Azure Sphere do automatic OS updates?
It’s useful to remember why Azure Sphere does automatic OS updates—and, as a corollary, why it’s important to verify that your devices continue to run correctly after the OS updates. Renewable security is one of the Seven Properties of Highly Secured Devices, which states that by continually improving the security of our operating system, your devices are provided with defense against even the most recently emerged classes of attacks. Automatic OS updates are how we deliver the improvements to ensure your devices have renewable security.
The Azure Sphere OS team spends considerable energy identifying potential threats and improving the protections in the OS. We make use of best-of-breed open source components and regularly update them. We invite security researchers and red teams to find vulnerabilities so that we can address them. We detail some of our fixes from these in our blogs, such as our recent security blog articles on 20.07, 20.08, and 20.09. These OS updates provide critical protection for the security of your devices, and we do our best to ensure that there is no adverse impact to device compatibility. But we give you the final say, with Retail Eval, to ensure that your devices still behave in a way consistent with your expectations before broad OS update deployment to Retail.