When Microsoft vaguely revealed last year that Windows 10 would run on Internet of Things (IoT) devices, my mind turned to Intel’s Galileo boards and Arduino. But with today’s announcement about the Raspberry Pi 2 supporting a free version of Windows 10, Microsoft has snagged a part of what is arguably the most successful IoT development board.
If you’re familiar with these products, Raspberry Pi is a very small form factor single-board computer that was originally designed to help facilitate inexpensive basic computer science education. It’s basically a system-on-a-chip (SoC) design with a small logic board providing video-out, RAM, storage, networking, and USB peripheral expansion. And while such products—and related products like Galileo and Arduino—were aimed at education originally, where they’ve really taken off is in the makers/enthusiast community.
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Raspberry Pi 2 is the latest version of this board, and it costs just $35. Raspberry Pi founder and CEO Eben Upton says that the version sports a 900 MHz quad-core ARM Cortex-A7 CPU, which is about 6 times faster than the processor in the previous version, and is part of a new Broadcom BCM2836 SoC. It also features 1 GB of LPDDR2 SDRAM, and offers “complete compatibility with Raspberry Pi 1.” That latter bit means that the board is identical to the previous Pi—all of the connectors are in the same place and have the same functionality, and it uses the same power supply—and that it will run ARM GNU/Linux distributions, like Snappy Ubuntu Core, as before. But it will also run Windows 10.
That is news.
As is this: The Raspberry Pi 2-compatible version of Windows 10 will be available for free for the Maker community through the Windows Developer Program for IoT.
“We are excited about our partnership with the Raspberry Pi Foundation and delivering a version of Windows 10 that supports Raspberry Pi 2, and we will be sharing more details about our Windows 10 plans for IoT in the coming months,” a Microsoft posting notes.
What’s not clear is “what” version of Windows 10 Rhaspberry Pi will get. Mary Jo Foley speculates—correctly, I think—that it will be a custom version for this platform, and I actually do think that’s how Microsoft will support many popular IoT platforms. That is, this won’t be a “stock” Windows 10 version like Windows 10 “mobile” (phones and small tablets) or the x86 Windows 10 versions that head out to bigger tablets and PCs.
But Build 2015 is two months away. Clearly, we’ll find out a lot more at this developer-focused show, if not before. In the meantime, head on over to Microsoft’s Windows Developer Program for IoT to join up and find out more.
And don’t forget you can buy Raspberry Pi 2 today for $35. If you’re in the US, head over to element14 to get yours as soon as possible. Or elsewhere, you can try RS Components.