Alongside the announcement of the next generation of Raspberry Pi board—the Raspberry Pi 2 Model B—is the news from Microsoft that the new board will be supported by Windows 10.
“We’re very happy to be supporting Windows 10 on Raspberry Pi. It’s a great opportunity to plug in to Microsoft’s work with makers, and access to the Visual Studio toolchain is a big plus.” — Eben Upton, CEO at Raspberry Pi
Until today’s release of the new Raspberry Pi 2 there has been no Windows support for the Pi. However because the new board has made the transition from ARMv6 to ARMv7 — a chip architecture already supported by Windows — this is not only now possible, it’s happening.
Microsoft has already made moves to support the maker community, releasing a distribution of Windows running on the Intel Galileo. Since the Galileo doesn’t have display support, and has only 256MB of RAM on board, the distribution is a heavily stripped down version of Microsoft’s operating system—although there have been improvements to better support the sorts of things that makers want to do—for example Microsoft’s Lightning functionality is a re-architecture of Windows to make GPIO operations much faster.
However it’s not yet clear whether the version of Windows supporting the much more capable second generation Raspberry Pi will be similarly stripped down, or whether it will have a normal Windows user interface. When asked, Microsoft declined to share further details although they did admit that we could expect it to be “similar” to that provided for other boards, suggesting that—like the Galileo—the version shipping for the Pi will be stripped back.
We do know that Windows 10 for the Raspberry Pi will be made available free to the maker community through the Windows Developer Program for IoT, but it won’t be arriving until later in the year.
“We will be sharing more details about our Windows 10 plans for IoT in the coming months. ” — Kevin Dallas, General Manager, MS Windows IoT Group
Due to the vagueness of their announcement it’s likely that Microsoft’s work on Windows for the Pi is still in early stages.
The arrival of Windows on the Raspberry Pi also calls into question the future of Microsoft’s own Sharks Cove board — a joint venture between Microsoft, Intel and CircuitCo. At $299 the board was intended as a development board for both Windows and Android, but at release was poorly marketed as a “Raspberry Pi competitor.”
If you’re interested in keeping track of Windows 10 on Raspberry Pi you should register for the developer program on the Window Developer Program for IoT site.
Update: Postings by Ben Nuttall in the comment thread for the release announcement of the new board seem to confirm that the version of Windows shipping for the Pi will be stripped back in a similar manner to the Intel Galileo release.