$35 Bare-Bones PC Will Run Windows 10

John Lister's picture

A credit-card sized PC costing just $35 will be able to run a dedicated version of Windows 10. It's by no means a practical choice for most users, but is a sign that Microsoft is continuing to make its flagship operating system sleeker and more efficient.

The computer in question is the Raspberry Pi 2. It's the latest in a series of devices originally designed to make computers cheap enough that schools can buy them in bulk in order to teach children coding and programming skills.

In terms of hardware specifications, there's nothing glamorous about the Raspberry Pi. It doesn't come with an external case and instead is a bare, all-in-one circuit board containing all the key components of a computer. Users wanting an external case need to pay extra (most do).

The device includes USB connections for a power lead, keyboard and mouse. There's also an HDMI port for connecting to a monitor or TV, an Ethernet port for connecting to a modem or router, and a microSD card slot for storing both data and an operating system.

Special Edition Of Windows 10 Free Of Charge

To date, Raspberry Pi devices have only been suitable for installing Linux-based operating systems. However, the organization behind the device has now revealed that Microsoft will be producing a special edition of Windows 10 that will run on the Raspberry Pi 2. There will be no charge to download and install the system. (Source: raspberrypi.org)

Ever since Windows 7, Microsoft has made a big effort to make each new edition streamlined and without "bloat". That's partly due to the worldwide economic slowdown that came shortly after Vista's release. In short, many would-be computer users seeking to upgrade were unable or unwilling to buy new computers just to keep up with the latest edition of Windows.

First Step To Windows For 'Internet Of Things'

To put things into context, the Raspberry Pi 2 has a 900 mHz quad-core processor and 1GB of RAM. That's about what one might expect to see in a new smartphone at the budget end of the market. Compared to the previous model, the Raspberry Pi 2 CPU is roughly 6 times as powerful and comes with twice as much RAM.

It remains to be seen how well this special edition of Windows 10 will run on such low specs, and whether it will come across as a compromise compared to Windows versions designed for tablets and full-blown PCs.

Either way, it does suggest that Microsoft is making concessions in order to have some form of Windows available for every kind of computing device, rather than be restricted to the traditional desktop computer. Indeed, the company specifically says the Raspberry Pi 2 release is part of a project to bring Windows to the "Internet of Things" -- a classification that covers any device connected to the Internet, even if it's not what most people would consider a computer. (Source: windows.com)

What's Your Opinion?

Is a Windows 10 computer for $35 (even with the need to buy peripherals such as a keyboard) too good to be true? Do you think Microsoft can make a genuinely useful version of Windows for such a low-spec device? Should Microsoft bother with such a market, or should it concentrate on higher end, "normal" computers?

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Dennis Faas's picture

I think it's worth it for Microsoft to invest the time to make a low spec version of Windows. Anything that can be done to improve upon optimization and to get Windows onto low spec devices will surely result in more users using Windows. As more low spec devices hit the market, we'll also see more competition from manufacturers, resulting in lower prices and enhanced features. So I think this is definitely a win-win all across the board.

Some IT Guy's picture

It sounds like a long term investment on Microsoft's part to gain more market share in the educational sector, and area long occupied mostly by Apple. It will help the developers of Raspberry Pi to up their game on their product, and will also help with getting more programming training in the hands of developers for the Windows platform.

As you mentioned, the device currently has the power of a free cell phone, so it might make the product more relevant being paired with Microsoft. Together, they could probably make something marketable.

blueboxer2's picture

So MS is considering making a low-spec version of Windows 10 for the Raspberry Pi and competitive versions of minimum computers. And, they're pulling it off too. This could put many cats among many flocks of pigeons.

For instance, might it turn out to be runnable (maybe with the odd tweak?) on some of the more robust computers currently running XP? And might some supporters of the dedicated legacy programs that keep XP active develop an API that lets them pick up the benefits of Windows 10? Since the low-spec Win10 is supposed to be free, could this fulfill Redmond's wish to finally usher XP to its grave?

It will take a lot of overtime in the IT department but I agree it looks like the best bet yet for a successful attack on Apple"s near-monopoly of the educational market.

I expect a number of surprises and tectonic-class shakeups in the computer industry as this plays out. I predict it will be fascinating to watch.

Hellgha's picture

Incredibly, the R Pi 2 it is now possible to run x 86 applications with ExaGear Desktop.