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back to article Microsoft bakes a bigger Pi to cook Windows slabs

Microsoft is looking for a footprint in the mini-single-board-computer market dominated by the Raspberry Pi, with the launch of the Intel Atom-based 'Sharks Cove' machine it hopes will attract developers with an interest in tablets. That's an interesting move: the tablet market is hotly contested, with vendors entering and …

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Irrelevant

Comparisons with Raspberry Pi are irrelevant since the Raspberry Pi is cheap enough for it not to be the end of the world if it breaks, and this overweight shark doesn't even have Ethernet. So it comes with a Windows license? Big deal. The only advantage that Windows had in the embedded space, that there were plenty of developers who were familiar with it, has now been lost to lighter and more efficient OSs, thanks largely to the rise of Android.

For a desktop system, I can build cheaper. For an embedded development system I'd be looking at nix - in one of it's many forms. Linking this to Raspberry Pi is just link baiting.

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Re: Irrelevant

Did you read through to the end of the article before registering your disgust throughout the world on the Internet?

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Happy

Re: Irrelevant

In fairness the comparison serves at least one purpose - it makes pi-owners feel like they got a bargain.

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Re: Irrelevant

At the price the pi comes at, if it works it's a bargain, really.

The funny thing is that Microsoft and journos (not just the Reg, all the other usual suspects went for a similar bollocks headline dragging in the Pi) are piggy-backing on the success of the Pi to get publicity. Not bad really for a computer which started out as the pet project of half a dozen well-placed nerds and costs less than an evening in the pub.

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Re: Irrelevant

"it makes reminds pi-owners feel like that they got a bargain."

FTFY!

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Re: Irrelevant

Microsoft reckons it's a good buy

Meanwhile everyone else just reckons it's a good-bye...

It does sound almost like they're looking to unload old Surface stock by uncasing them and selling the bits bare-boned.

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re. Sharks Cove apostrophe

The word 'sharks' might be considered as a functional adjective here.

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Re: re. Sharks Cove apostrophe

Or it could be a cove with lots and lots of sharks.

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Re: re. Sharks Cove apostrophe

>Or it could be a cove with lots and lots of sharks.

And no frickin' laser beams.

Or Ethernet.

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Re: re. Sharks Cove apostrophe

No, that would be Sharks' Cove.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: re. Sharks Cove apostrophe

A plural sounds fine to me, like Cattle Drive rather than Cow's Drive. The cove has sharks in it, rather than belonging to the sharks.

I suspect that Shark's Cove is wrong - with a mistakenly applied "Greengrocer's apostrophe".

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Re: re. Sharks Cove apostrophe

"And no frickin' laser beams."

And that's just wrong.

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Huh?

"Comes with a windows license"

Here, buy this cake, it costs more because it comes with anthrax.

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Devil

Re: Huh?

"Comes with a windows license"

Included in boxes of cereals (serials?) next...

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Joke

Re: Huh?

Hplasm wrote:

" Included in boxes of cereals (serials?) next..."

Didn't AOL already try this? Worked out well for them...

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Re: Huh?

>>>> also includes a Windows 8.1 image

Yeah, sex with a beautiful woman for $299. Also includes the clap.

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No Apostraphe

"There's no apostrophe so the crime against punctuation is Microsoft's."

No wonder they can't write decent code. They can't master basic English to start with.

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Re: No Apostraphe

There's a Sharks Cove in Hawaii that is devoid of punctuation, so maybe it's the Hawaiians' fault rather than Nadella et al.

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Far too expensive

It's competing on specs with quad core ARM dev boards in the $100-200 range and is MORE expensive than the similarly spec'd Asus Pad 7 (reviewed here) which comes with a battery, screen and case for only £130.

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Re: Far too expensive

Or buy a used netbook, disable sleep, and close the lid. Similar spec at 1/3 the price with battery backup.

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Anonymous Coward

Windows everywhere is failing... again

They already tried this years ago, and the result was the same.

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Overspecified

It's cos Microsoft haven't grabbed the idea of lightweight and power efficient computing. Hence their near absense of support for ARM based devices, the bus that they have totally missed. The RPi and similar have shown that there is an ecosystem outside Windows that doesn't need bloated hardware to run it. Of course there are other single board computers available - Beaglebone, RiOTboard etc

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Re: Overspecified

Windows RT works fine on ARM devices. The only problems with are completely artificial. Microsoft locked down the OS, preventing the use of desktop-style apps or server apps. Windows RT is worthless as a tablet OS. It would have been glorious as a server OS. You know, servers. Where it's not out of the question to develop entirely new software to match a platform, if there is a good reason.

Consumers, SMBs and the commercial midmarket, OTOH, aren't just going to throw away decades worth of software investment so that Microsoft can have a new one-application-at-a-time (or two side-by-side in utterly useless fashion) touch-based OS.

*shrug* Microsoft. Missing the point is a thing.

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good idea but....

If you are running windows then you have to go through all that palava of entering the product key and then waiting while the gods at microsoft licensing decide if they key is valid and authenticate the system.

This device comes with no Wifi or Ethernet so you have to buy something else so that the connectivity to MS Licensing can be made.

Yes you can call, get a number and enter that but how will the system cope without the regular Phone Home to check that all is well with the mothership that Windows seems to demand (at least the non server versions)?

This seems to be no more than 'Hey, I want a bit of that market' ploy by MS. Trying to have several fingers in every pie and could end up with most of them getting burnt.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: good idea but....

The Raspberry Pi reference is misleading, it's not in the same arena

The essential problem is they are starting from the point of a large bloated operating system with lots of legacy support requirements and DRM, which leads in turn to complex hardware with higher power consumption etc, if they were serious about the small, cheap computer/embedded space they would start from scratch with a new lightweight operating system designed for the platform itself which would lend itself to simplicity and low power, not try to bend the platform to what they already have.

They seem to be pointing this board and OS more at mobile and tablet developers as a development platform.

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"When you additionally consider that the Windows Driver Kit 8.1 can pair with Visual Studio Express and are both free with a valid MSDN account"

So, for $300 you get a low end Atom without even an Ethernet port and a copy of a Windows OS designed for tablets. To make use of it you need an MSDN account.

Price of MSDN starts at $700 for just "operating systems". Visual Studio Pro with MSDN is $1200. The one you actually need as a sysadmin is $2170 but they go all the way up to $13300. All of that per year.

A Raspberry Pi + case + as many copies of as many variants of Linux as you want is $100. Tops.

Only you can decide if Microsoft's offer is worth it for you. Based on the above, I think I will develop my applications for non Microsoft platforms. Microsoft is simply too rich for my blood.

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VS Express "free with a valid MSDN account"

This is rather disingenuous of them, since Express is free for anyone.

Unfortunately, it's also worth about what you've paid for it, particularly if you want to use C++ - it cripples the Intellisense (which is one of the more useful bits of the IDE). Evidently they're intent on pushing C#...

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1GB of RAM for Windows 8? My phone has more RAM than that. I built a desktop for less than that (didn't have to buy windows for it though).

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Looks much like an ITX board only much dearer

I cant see how MS hopes to get market share with this at that price mark

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Re: Looks much like an ITX board only much dearer

My thoughts as well, I was playing around with small boards (ITX) years ago - even when adding a case, power supply, hard disk, memory, Operating System, and, often, a discrete graphics card, the things came out less that that price just for a board and "free" OS (if you have an ongoing subscription)

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Re: Looks much like an ITX board only much dearer

For similar or less money you can get any number of far more powerful computers/boards. Intel NUC, Asus VivoPC, etc. I suspect the reason things like the NUC board are frequently more expensive than the computer is because the big box discounters don't do bare boards. Given that most of those come with specs that easily outpace this one I think calling this "fat" is a bit of an overstatement especially when you consider they used the lightweight "G" variant of the atom instead of the "F" which has twice the memory bandwidth.

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Counterproductive

Anyone who suspected Microsoft can't compete in the target market has just had their suspicions confirmed

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You can buy expensive x86 family dev boards with Windows

Since forever, with licence for what ever Windows MS was pushing at the time.

Since this one has no networking (WiFi or Ethernet) it seems particularly poor.

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Sharks Cove?

They should have called it Cabbot Cove, then Jessica Fletcher could have investigated who killed profitability!

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Anonymous Coward

Perhaps this is a format for, say, ATMs?

Of course you should check first when it will be no longer supported, but for those embedded XPs still out there perhaps these are an effective replacement?

For those deeply entrenched in Microsoft technologies this really opens up the range of deployment options. Not sure if I'd go that route, it is Windows 8 after all, but then again breaking from MS dependencies may be more expensive.

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Anonymous Coward

Why say it compares to a Pi when it has to run a full bloated copy of Windows?

Surely if microsoft want to compete with Pi's then they should give away and heavily promote Windows Embedded a bit more so that people could start building lightweight Atom devices with flavor of windows on board.

If they were to produce a device with around 1Ghz CPU, 1Gb ram, no onboard storage (some kind of SD slot), at least 2 usb with an OS that could load up to a GUI desktop with full dotnet support but with no shell or any other bloat I'd be interested especially if they could get close to £100 for it. Then they'd have something that compared to a Pi.

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Anonymous Coward

has m$ quite literally lost the plot here?

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The problem is that they are incapable of actually losing the plot - they make so much money from other parts of their business that they can continue to spaff it up the wall on projects that lose money, or at least use it inefficiently.

If I was an MS shareholder, I'd want the company broken up in to smaller chunks, and I'd sell everything that wasn't part of the enterprise cash cow. Bing, Xbox, IE, winphone, surface all are poor performing business, and they are allowed to under-perform because enterprise props everything up.

If Bing is/can be so good, spin it out so that it can grow without constantly propping it up. Time for the kids to move out.

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Alert

Muffins

Actually this seems pretty much like "business as usual" for Microsoft. They see a new market open up, ignore it or totally misunderstand it and when the market has grown enough, possibly a couple of years down the road, they jump in and try to hijack it, usually with something half-arsed.

This is no different to the way they got into the phone market, the mobile computing market, the games market and so on. The only hope they normally ever get is when at least one of the competitors stuffs up in some way then Microsoft dives in and munches on the carcass, much as a shark might.

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Mayve they should call it Playa Girón

A plot to far

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Mayve they should call it Playa Girón

A plot to far to what? Oh... did you mean a plot too far?

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At least it has lots of places you can plug things in

Hmm, sort of interesting:

>Qty. 1 (2X10) Header for Sensors

>Qty. 2 60 pin MIPI Connector for Display and Camera

>Qty. 5 (2x2) Pin Headers for Power

>1 USB 2.0 type A Connector for expandability to hub for KB/Mouse,

connectivity

>1 micro USB type A/B for debug

But, even better, there are all *these*

> Qty. 12 (5X2) Shrouded Pin Header connectors:

which are for ... ?

So I can plug in all the random coloured cables lying on the workbench and convince Management that it was worth the three hundred dollars?

You even have to supply your own speaker so that it can go "Ping!".

And then I noticed that they list "power" under "additional features"...

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Re: At least it has lots of places you can plug things in

If you had made just one more mouse click, you could have found the page to the Technical Specs Document. Then you could have answered your own question! Hooray for research!

If you actually are interested, they have documented 15-odd pages on what every single pin in those headers does, starting from page 22.

To make life super simple for you, this is the link:

http://www.sharkscove.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Sharks-Cove-Technical-Specifications.pdf

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looks about the right price for a dev board. Given the huge installed base of embedded windows there will be a lot of people interested in this. Hobbyists who are attracted by RPi will not give it a second look and likewise enterprise customers will see the RPi as a false economy and go with something that has the required support network. Everyone is happy and no need for an argument.

When someone rolls out an ATM network with RPi in I will of course eat my hat...

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This post has been deleted by its author

Netbook

My Netbook is a complete system with Windows license and cost $100 less. (Yes I still have one, it works and I still use it!)

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Re: Netbook

I have put Linux on mine, but I like it because at $200 I will take it places, potentially bad, that I wouldn't take a much more exp. laptop.

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Anonymous Coward

So much bias...

Just for the record MS were involved in the hobby electronics way before the RaspPi was born...

http://www.netmf.com/gadgeteer/

https://www.ghielectronics.com/catalog/product/297

As for ARM not taken seriously by MS... the Nokia Lumia is running Windows and Nokia use what chip?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: So much bias...

Nokia uses a piece of shit chip no one wants or cares about. Does that answer your question?

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Everyone seems to overlook Intel's DE3815TYBE NUC board released in April

Somehow everyone seems to overlook this little $99 recommended selling price board released by Intel in April. That price is much lower that typical prices for such kit from specialized suppliers. We got one for building into a small appliance that needs some processing power: 1,4Ghz Atom, 5W TDP max (!) GPIO and I2C ports, SATA Disk-On-Module (DOM) compatibility (meaning the industrial type you stick directly onto the SATA port and can be supplied with 5V by it, like Innodisk sells. This can be a little confusing since mSATA is not supported and the board also has a half-width mini pci-express slot for Wifi cards which is pin compatible with mSATA). It also has 4GB of eMMC which, frankly is only enough to install a striped down Linux.

It's running Windows 7 at this moment for testing purposes quite nicely (ok, not the fastest in the world but still) using a SATA DOM :-)

http://ark.intel.com/products/78576/Intel-NUC-Board-DE3815TYBE

Also comes in a boxed version which includes a Wifi card, VGA en full SATA connectors connected to the board, sadly, by some kind of propriatary Intel connector (at least for the SATA power supply). If you want a connector for a 2,5 inch SATA drive buy the boxed version.

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