Microsoft prepares to sunset its Azure Percept AI dev kit

December 13, 2022
Microsoft had high hopes for its Azure Percept IoT dev kit when it launched. But the AI-focused product is now being discontinued as of 2023.
A graphical representation of the Percept IoT dev kit

When Microsoft launched its Azure Percept IoT dev kit in March 2021, it had some lofty goals for it. Officials went so far as to say that they saw Percept as the cornerstone for building an IoT device ecosystem around Azure services the same way that Windows helped create the PC market.But these plans have fizzled to the point of Microsoft dropping Azure Percept in 2023 (members).

Azure Percept—which never exited preview—was/is heavily focused on AI. It includes a development kit with a camera called "Azure Percept Vision." It also has an Azure Percept Studio "getting started" experience meant to guide customers who don't have a lot of coding experience through the AI lifecycle of developing, training, and deploying proof-of-concept ideas.

Azure Percept Audio, which like Azure Percept Vision, ships separately from the dev kit, is meant to enable AI speech services on edge devices. Azure Percept devices can automatically connect to Azure IoT Hub to enable secure communications between IoT devices and the cloud. Microsoft announced the end of Azure Percept rather quietly in a note it posted in mid-October to its Microsoft Learn documentation page about the product.

The note says:

Retirement of Azure Percept DK:

The Azure Percept public preview will be evolving to support new edge device platforms and developer experiences. As part of this evolution the Azure Percept DK and Audio Accessory and associated supporting Azure services for the Percept DK will be retired March 30th, 2023. Effective March 30th, 2023, the Azure Percept DK and Audio Accessory will no longer be supported by any Azure services including Azure Percept Studio, OS updates, containers updates, view web stream, and Custom Vision integration. Microsoft will no longer provide customer success support and any associated supporting services. For more information, please visit the Retirement Notice Blog Post.

Users will need to close the resources and projects associated with the Azure Percept Studio and DK to avoid future billing, Microsoft said in a related Percept retirement blog post. In early November, Microsoft added an update to its retirement information, stating:

A firmware update that enables the Vision SoM and Audio SOM to retain their functionality with the DK beyond the retirement date, will be made available before the retirement date.

I'd assume lack of traction is at least one of the reasons for the fast phase-out of Azure Percept. Another could be a reprioritization and reorg which moved some of the previously independent IoT teams at Microsoft under Azure. I asked officials if they'd say more about the reasons for the discontinuation of Azure Percept beyond the brief retirement statement. A spokesperson declined to provide more information beyond this additional statement:

"As the needs of our customers evolve, we regularly update our product lineup to best support them. From time to time, this includes introducing technical innovations and retiring products. Microsoft provides ample resources to assist customers, ensuring any transition is as seamless as possible."