Skip to main content

Hands-on with Raspberry Pi 2, a future Windows 10 computer for $35

So, here it is. The $35 computer that will run a version of Windows 10 later this year. The Raspberry Pi 2 is an interesting little device in its own right, but with the announcement of a collaboration with Microsoft to bring the latest version of Windows to it, naturally it becomes even more interesting to us.

It's not going to be the full fat, pro version of Windows 10, instead a customized version delivered by Microsoft's developer program for the Internet of Things. But it'll be free to download to all Raspberry Pi 2 owners who register.

We've got one in preparation for what's to come, so here's a quick look at what it is – and isn't.

Raspberry Pi 2

To recap on the hardware first, then. If you're not familiar with the Raspberry Pi, it's so low cost because you get a circuit board and nothing else for the basic asking price. There are cases and add-ons galore, but for the basic $35 asking price you get the circuit board and only the circuit board.

Here's what's on it:

  • 900MHz quad-core ARM Cortex-A7 CPU
  • 1GB LPDDR2 SDRAM
  • 4 USB 2.0 ports
  • 40-pin GPIO
  • 10/100 Ethernet
  • HDMI out
  • Composite A/V output
  • Micro USB power (1.8A @ 5V)
  • CSI connector for camera
  • DSI connector for LCD display
  • MicroSD card slot
  • Circuitry

Originally designed to help get kids to learn to code, the Raspberry Pi became a favorite of nerds everywhere. The sequel gets a significant performance increase over both incarnations of the original, with twice the RAM and a promised 6x performance increase from the CPU. But aside from the bump in hardware, it should also be compatible with everything from the first Raspberry Pi, so makers already invested shouldn't have to completely start over.

It's actually pretty incredible that so much is possible from something so tiny. Realistically you're going to end up spending more than $35, partly because you're really going to want to put it in a case for protection if nothing else – a clear case will retain all the awesome beauty of the bare circuit board look. But the Raspberry Pi has an incredible community of really smart people making really incredible projects with it. You're probably not going to want to leave it alone.

Raspberry Pi 2

For now, if you want to buy and tinker you'll need to load it up with Linux. Microsoft is going to show us more about the Windows 10 Raspberry Pi project later on this year, and we're really looking forward to that. With all the buzz around Windows 10 this is something really fantastic that we'll be following closely.

If you want to know more about the Raspberry Pi, check out the links below, including some helpful posts from our buddies over at Connectedly. If you're picking one up for Windows 10, you'll need to register in the IoT developer program which you'll also find a link for below. And more pictures.

Raspberry Pi 2

Raspberry Pi 2

Raspberry Pi 2

Richard Devine is an Editor at Windows Central. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently you'll find him covering all manner of PC hardware and gaming, and you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

98 Comments
  • Good to gift but not to use :P I guess it will be able run light version of Windows 10.
  • Yes, the Internet of things version. It's intended to run headless and do automation tasks etc., not to replace a desktop PC.
  • Basically like hyperv only way to maintain it is thru remote desktop
  • No, it won't have a GUI at all.
  • Source?
  • Go check your facts. I have Raspberry running elementary OS on it, not much of a use though.
  • I'm talking about this special version of Windows, not about Raspi in general. I know that there are distros with GUI.
  • Is that a motherboard or a computer?
  • More or less the entire computer. It uses a micro USB port for power, so it needs that adapter, but other than that it is complete, though it will look better if you put it in a case.
  •      "The Compact/Athens SKUs, which also run on both Intel- and ARM-based devices, is for resource-constrained devices that need to run Universal Apps."     "Does this mean the latest version of the Rasberry Pi board, the Raspberry Pi 2 Model B -- which has at its heart a quad-core ARM v7 processor, will run the next version of the .Net Micro Framework, Athens or some custom version of Windows 10, like the HoloLens augmented-reality goggles and the Surface Hub conferencing system will? It's not entirely clear, but I'm thinking custom is the likely answer. Update: One of my sources who knows quite a bit about Windows 10 says Athens is the more likely answer."
    http://www.zdnet.com/article/microsofts-windows-10-for-iot-what-to-expect/ Looking like it'll be able to run universal apps. This is hardly a confirmation though.
  • Windows RT 10
  • This looks really cool, I'm very much interested.
  • If you haven't heard of RPi or Arduino until reading this article I suggest you save your money for an Intel NUC.
  • If microsoft have an ARM version ofwindows 10, how come they won't update the Surface and Surface RT to W10?
  • Windows 10 for IoT, not the full version
  • Probably because there will be several times more Pi2 users than Surface users and the "New Microsoft" is more concerned with going to where the customers are than supporting the current ones.
  • I didn't even know microsoft wouldn't update rt... Uff its everything so absurd. Still asking myself why my 5 yo single core pc runs win10 and my high end wp7 doesnt...
  • I hope you are joking. :-/
  • MS will update the RT tablets, he is lying.
  • MS themselves had said that 'Surface RT will get some of the features of Windows 10' - that sounds an awful lot like what happened with Windows Phone 7.8
  • No, what is sounds like is that Not all features of win10 proper will come through becasue they are still working on properly mergin WP and RT. More than likely RT will still be supported and end up looking more like a WP device.
  • They will be upgrading them to Windows 10. You just won't get the desktop, which there will be no reason to have once the touch version of Office comes out.
  • I don't get all that desktop hate... They should have implemented it since wp7.8, its so easy to use on a small display. For example, for me its easier to use ie with mouse, than the normal one... You always have to zoom in to click on very small hyperlinks
  • They were actually careful to not call the update to RT "Windows 10." Seems likely it will be more of what Windows Phone 7 got at the end.
  • I'm tempted that's for sure. I could see myself building my own little tablet device with a few extra features along with a custom case made at work in the sign factory. A nicely done CNC case with some vinyl/digitally printed graphics and a small touch screen.... I could make my own Star Trek PADD.... But less nerdy.
  • That is sexy :)
  • Case! Pah. Mine is just attached to the back of my tv. You don't even see it.
  • Is this product made less relevant by that "Intel on a stick" PC they showed off a few weeks ago that was also uber-cheap but seemingly more powerful?
  • Techincally you right. However the "intel on a stick" price is around $150 which is three times more. This product would probably just give us more options. 
  • For some people, sure. But for most people looking at one of these want it because they can create their own projects with it. You can plug in motors, LED, sensors, etc... With the PC on a stick, you can't do that.
  • Only if you see it as a desktop PC replacement. But the Raspi can do much more things than just be a desktop replacement.
  • That stick was $150, so its not that cheap at all. Also this PC is really for hobbyist and School. They themself dont try and sell it as pocket PC.
  • They're two completely different markets...
  • Windows Central obviously paid to advertise RPi 2.
    95% of readers are envisioning some sort of HT/PC replacement....
  • Comical. I bought this. With my credit card. Readers who don't read the important parts are missing out.
  • Get pipo x7 for $100. 2gb ram + 32 GB emmc. With 1 year office 365.
  • Have you actually seen one for $100?
  • Imagine if this thing was built 20-30 years ago what today's computers would look like :)
  • Imagine if computers weren't built at all?
  • Then there wouldn't be WP you and I enjoy
  • I guess people are going to try to run Win10 Pro on this and then sue Microsoft when it doesn't work. This will be the "Runs VISTA" issue all over again.
  • That's unlikely because you have to register as a developer on the IoT page.
  • This looks like the future of plex servers.
  • or carputers :)   if I could figure out how to get my honda navi touchscreen to work over USB, that would be awesome
  • Great idea... +1
  • Yeah I thought of DSMlink carputer immediately :) a little easier to power vs the netbook
  • Nope
  • There is already a very nice XBMC build for it.
  • Another trend I just don't get. I feel like I belong on a new planet where there are no tablets, smart watches, Fitbits, or Raspberry Pis -- and phones have keyboards!
  • And yet you reply on a tech site so you must follow this stuff.
  • This site used to be about WP only. Hopefully someday they will provide a filter so I can go back to only reading about WP.
  • Windows Phone won't exist for much longer. Windows 10 is the future. Everywhere.
  • Call it what you want, but it will still be Windows on a Phone and there is likely to still be some unique functionality when compared to PCs. And if you really esnt to get ibto symantics I coukd argue that WP was never really Wibdows as you cannot have muktipkewindows ipen onbthebscreen simultaneously. They should have called it Microsoft Tilr Phinr.
  • You may want to see a doctor, you seem to have suffered a stroke between the first and second paragraphs.
  • Hahaha, I've decided in protest not to xirrect any typos unrik this app suppoets labdscaoe nide!
  • I laughed so hard I can't tell you. Hahahahahahaha.....
  • what
  • Windows Insider app points to wpflights. Windows Phone will continue to exist despite having an alias
  • You may want to look into blackberry.
  • Thanks, but it's the landscape sliders I liked, which BB doesn't do. Android is my only choice currently and that is not an option!
  • No internal storage?
  • No. Because this way, you can flash the system SD card with your PC/laptop.
  • Its more powerful than my first two PCs.
  • Shit thats slow
  • Not really, if you are looking at raw computing power.
  • Won't make a big deal Specs are shit
    Will run windows 10 dang slow unless there is a lite version
  • It's going to be running a specific version of Windows for just these sorts of devices. It's why they used the term IoT (the Internet of Things). Currently people are using Android systems for smart everything, from TVs to refrigerators. MS wants a slice of that home automated pie.
  • Who uses RPi + Android???
    Linux master race
  • I'm not speaking specifically about the Pi. :-)
  • Heretic!  How dare thee post such blasphemy on a Windows fansite!?! ;)
  • Clearly didn't read the post.
  • Runs certainly faster on Windows 10 IoT than on Android.
  • Imagine a device this small can run a full windows and has the specs of a gaming laptop.
  • Come back in 2020
  • I imagining ...............
  • What about internal memory?
  • None. That's why there's a MicroSD slot.
  • None, as every development ARM board.
  • finally the pictures from the article is viewable in windows 8 app
  • Isn't it DDR3 RAM, instead of DDR2? Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • No, LPDDR2 SDRAM according to raspberrypi.org.
  • Seems Respberrier 
  • IoT is all about backend. What will the developer story be?
  • You will be able to use Visual Studio Express to create programs that will collect data that you will then send to the Azure cloud service to aggregate and create web UIs to make sense of all the data. For example, create your own weather station.  Create a yearlong time lapse or trail camera, automatically fill the dog bowl with water or food when empty, automatically monitor the pH level of your pool, etc.  IoT is about sensors and collecting data. I believe too many people believe they are going to get $35 windows desktop. That is not the point of IoT.
  • Awesome.
  • It's a more interesting device because of the IoT connection. The Raspberry Pi community has made some really amazing things with the first version. It's going to be exciting to see where it goes with some Microsoft attention as well.
  • Yes, I agree. But if I cannot run C# or C++ written backend services or ASP.NET websites, like on Win RT, what is the point?
  • Where did anyone say you cannot?  The device and the version of Windows 10 is being targeted to makers and IoT as was previously done with Intel® Galileo.  Nothing stops you from accessing your own endpoints.  Microsoft will be Evangelizing its Azure services for IoT, which BTW are very good, but nothing stops you from rolling your own.  Knock yourself out.
  • What the heck has Azure to do with this? I want the Pi to act as the endpoint, also known as "server". It's pretty useless to have what is basically a programmable controller without this.
  • Useless is your point of view.  It will be a constrained device.  What the OS constraints will be is not yet known.  Can it support a tiny web server, nobody knows yet. At a minimum I expect you can do something in .NET CF or create a Windows Service in C++ to host the web service but at this time unless they give more information, nobody knows.  Take a look at the Intel® Galileo project to get more information because that will be your best reference as of now.
  • I have had the galileo for over 6 months now, and Windows for IOT is probably the best OS out there for embedded computing. You can download Visual Studio Community Edition 2013, and do full remote debugging which is somethig you would normally have to pay thousands of dollars for in any other OS (eg. Linux). With regards to the web-server, you can try http://w3gal.info and serve up static and dynamic content using ATL Server on the galileo right now. It's unfortunate that they are switching over to ARM, but Intel is dicontinuing the galileo.
  • Windows or no, this has started my head spinning for potential applications in my lab at work. I may have to pick one up.
  • Just keep two SD cards so you can have one stable OS and one to test changes on before applying them.
  • I would love to design an entertainment/navigation/handsfree device for my car using this - if they can do 'Hey Cortana' on this it would be so awesome!     
  • Not going to happen, instead how about collecting data from the OBD-II to monitor the efficiency of your car on your trips and track it for an entire year to determin how much gas your lead foot it costing you.
  • Mine arrived today. Will naturally start with linux from scratch. Loved the old one, it put a lot of the hobbying fun back into computing.
  • I just cruised the raspberrypi.org website. I might have to get one. My daughter has decided she wants to build robots. More specifically, nanobots. This looks like a good place to start. If we abandon attempts to control a robot with it, we'll have a great coffee table object d'arte.
  • Neat, no question, I keep thinking about this and I can't really find a use for it, I have a server, htpc, gaming desktop, tablet, not sure what else I cam use it for...but its so cheap ​