Mark Wilson writes When people talk about the Internet of Things, there are often semi-joking references to fridges that know when you've run out of milk and ovens that know how to cook whatever you put in them. Forget the jokes; this is now a reality. We've already seen a generation of smart appliances, and Microsoft wants to be part of what happens next. At Hannover Messe today, Miele — of oven, vacuum cleaner and washing machine fame — announces it is working on a new breed of appliances based on Microsoft Azure Internet of Things (IoT) services What does this mean? Ultimately it means you'll be able to find a recipe online, have the ingredient list and preparation instructions sent to your mobile device, and your smart oven will be automatically configured with the correct settings.