Windows on Pi?


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by Flying Toaster » Mon Apr 30, 2012 4:47 am
This is my first post ever here so bear with me if I happen to have done something wrong.

Yes, I am aware that this post exists (even though I am not confident about any similar posts) but that's not what I am trying to ask here.

What I would like to know here is if anyone in the Raspberry Pi project has contacted Microsoft at all in regards to the possibility of having a Windows edition specifically designed and licensed for it. I know this sounds a bit "out there", but, then, there is the SGI Visual Workstation 320/540.

If Raspberry Pi is meant for children learning computing, then, setting aside potential technological hurdles, there is sure a good chance that R-P Foundation can strike a good deal for academic licensing or something along that line.

Thanks a bunch for reading this!
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by rurwin » Mon Apr 30, 2012 6:41 am
I very much doubt it.

I also doubt it is a good idea.

Consider: there are a huge number of PCs running Windows in schools right now. These could be used to teach programming right now. The reason that they aren't is that they are tied down by the IT department so tightly that nobody can install software on them, much less software that they wrote.

A large part of the reason for that is that they have hard-drives that cannot be easily repaired when the little darlings mess up. But Windows is a big reason it is so difficult to protect that hard-disk.

With the RaspPi, repairing the hard-disk is just a re-flash. And that is not possible with Windows, unless the IT department keeps a separate image for every machine.
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by daveg » Mon Apr 30, 2012 6:42 am
Who will foot the bill for this academic licensing? The foundation cant afford to pump the crazy money that microsoft will no doubt expect, the end user will end up paying for support for an OS which isn't really required (IMHO)

The RPi will cease to be the cost of a textbook.
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by Flying Toaster » Mon Apr 30, 2012 7:15 am

rurwin said:

A large part of the reason for that is that they have hard-drives that cannot be easily repaired when the little darlings mess up. But Windows is a big reason it is so difficult to protect that hard-disk.


Well… Could you elaborate on this "reason"? Given the fact I have used partition imaging software from the 90s and 00s and is fairly familiar with Windows-specific features such as Shadow Copy, Restore Point, Backup and so on, I am sure something can be worked out somehow out of all these choices of tools.

These, and the fact that you can just duplicate the entire SD should all else fails.



daveg said:


Who will foot the bill for this academic licensing? The foundation cant afford to pump the crazy money that microsoft will no doubt expect


I am not sure charities can usually pump out "crazy money", but then there is this.

Anyway, I am pretty certain that I am not soliciting for answers from people regarding whether running Windows (of any breed) on a Raspberry Pi is a bad idea. I am interested in whether someone involved in the project has by any chance sought the possibility of running Windows on the device in a properly licensed fashion. I would be grateful if someone could give me a straightforward answer to my question instead of anything along the line of the above. Thanks!
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by khulat » Mon Apr 30, 2012 7:46 am
I can't say for sure, but the probability that they have done it is pretty small. They set a price point of 25$/35$ for the device, because they wanted those things to be as cheap as humanly possible. So it would be counterproductive to ask Microsoft about licensing, because Microsoft won't beat the price point of Linux.

Also MS would have to spend a not insignificant sum of Money to port Windows to the Raspberry, which wouldn't raise the chance of this scenario happening.
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by rurwin » Mon Apr 30, 2012 7:58 am
Flying Toaster said:



rurwin said:

A large part of the reason for that is that they have hard-drives that cannot be easily repaired when the little darlings mess up. But Windows is a big reason it is so difficult to protect that hard-disk.


Well… Could you elaborate on this "reason"? Given the fact I have used partition imaging software from the 90s and 00s and is fairly familiar with Windows-specific features such as Shadow Copy, Restore Point, Backup and so on, I am sure something can be worked out somehow out of all these choices of tools.


On Linux a standard user can install software, write software and do anything else, within their own folder. They cannot write anywhere else on the disk (with a few unimportant exceptions.) Software they install only has their rights, so even if they install a virus it cannot do any damage outside of their folder.

So repairing such a machine is a matter of deleting a user's folder and recreating it -- or if you are really kind, restoring it from back-up. The operating system itself cannot be damaged.
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by mole125 » Mon Apr 30, 2012 8:06 am
The minimum requirements for windows vista, 7 and 8 are all 1 GB of ram.

Windows XP may have lower requirements but is no longer fully supported or developed by Microsoft.

This basically means that there is no chance Microsoft could even make a standard version of Windows run on the RPi let alone have the desire to do so. Even if they did so there would be very little software available that would actually run on it, and even if it did run I doubt there would be enough memory available to do anything.

Given this I'm pretty sure the answer would be No, no-one has spent any effort on trying to get Microsoft to do it as the probability of anything coming out of it is approaching zero.
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by Flying Toaster » Mon Apr 30, 2012 8:45 am

rurwin said:

So repairing such a machine is a matter of deleting a user's folder and recreating it -- or if you are really kind, restoring it from back-up. The operating system itself cannot be damaged.


I think what you are looking for in Windows is called a "user profile", which contains a personalized copy of My Documents, the HKEY_CURRENT_USER registry hive and so forth, and it's has been around for like eternity.

Thanks for your elaboration anyway!


mole125 said:

The minimum requirements for windows vista, 7 and 8 are all 1 GB of ram.

Windows XP may have lower requirements but is no longer fully supported or developed by Microsoft.


As I said, I am not soliciting for comment on whether running Windows on RPi is a bad idea. People used to complain that Windows 2003 had a full-blown desktop environment as well, but then there came this. Let's be honest here -  I am not Microsoft, and you are not Microsoft. It's only fair to leave the technical side of the issues for the creator of Windows, which is Microsoft, to sort out. All these idle speculations on whether you can actually run Windows on RPi are simply pointless and ultimately irrelevant to what I want to find out here, i.e. whether someone at the R-P Foundation has sought the possibility of having Windows running legally and feasibly on RPi.
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by jamesh » Mon Apr 30, 2012 8:52 am
I don't believe MS have been approached. Which answers your original question.

The sub question - why not, is mainly because Windows won't run without a colossal amount of work. The Raspi is a different architecture to that used on anything prior to Windows 8.  (Arm vs x86). Windows 8 will have an Arm version but its aimed at higher spec processors than that used in the Raspi. To get it to work would first require a lot of work just building it, then it would need a lot of optimisation (not something MS have been particularly good at in the past) to make it work in such a low memory footprint.

There is also the thorny issue of secure boot (http://www.electronista.com/ar.....y.for.arm/

and the fact that Windows is entirely closed source.

If MS want Windows to run on the Raspi (rather than the other way round), they should approach the foundation, not vica versa.
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by cheery » Mon Apr 30, 2012 8:53 am
Raspberry Pi is going to burn hole into Microsoft's pocket by training lot of capable programmers with linux background. They cannot counter this due to their inability to control memory usage, or portability of their operating systems.

You can be sure they attempt to pull up their own malformed version of RPi at some point. Just give them two years to notice what I just said.
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by mahjongg » Mon Apr 30, 2012 10:18 am
Flying Toaster said:


This is my first post ever here so bear with me if I happen to have done something wrong.

Yes, I am aware that this post exists (even though I am not confident about any similar posts) but that"s not what I am trying to ask here.

What I would like to know here is if anyone in the Raspberry Pi project has contacted Microsoft at all in regards to the possibility of having a Windows edition specifically designed and licensed for it. I know this sounds a bit "out there", but, then, there is the SGI Visual Workstation 320/540.


x86 versus ARM:

I assume you mustn"t have actually read the Windows 8 on R-PI thread, or you still are unaware that the R-PI is ARM based not x86 (like the Pentium processor etc) .

Your example, demonstrates that lack of understanding, as the SGI visual workstation, is x86 based, so Windows can work on it with trivial adaptations.

However the PI uses a wholly different processor architecture than the x86, named "Advanced Risc Machine" or ARM.

So what you are actually asking Microsoft to do is to completely re-write windows for the ARM architecture, so that it can run on the R-PI. Then, even if they did that, none of the windows applications will run either on it because they too are x86 based!

The only (old) version of "windows" that ever ran on the ARM platform was Windows CE, which is windows in name only.

Its exactly because of this, and the fact that the ARM architecture is gaining strength in the market, that Microsoft decided to make an end to their decades old dependancy on the x86 architecture, and to start supporting the ARM architecture (for tablets) too with Windows 8. Note that even on Windows 8 running on ARM the x86 windows applications will not run either. Applications have to be (re-)written for ARM. And re-writing an application for ARM might be difficult or impossible as its often not just a simple re-compile, and depending on what platform that the software was written on, the same platform must also be able to create ARM code, which is very often not the case.

So as I explained before, older windows versions simply won't run on the PI natively.

and as was established before, in the "windows 8 on R-PI" thread, windows 8 will also not run on the PI for reasons stated there.

Conclusion, no modern form of Windows will ever run on the R-PI, except for..

Emulation:

As with any CPU, you can write an emulator to "fake" a CPU of another architecture, but by nature such an emulated CPU takes up RAM and also will run a factor 10 slower than the native CPU, (the actual factor depends on the quality of the code obviously, but x10 is a good ballpark figure) so a 700MHz CPU of one kind can emulate a 70MHz CPU of another kind. The more complicated the emulated CPU is, the more code is needed to emulate it, and the slower the result will be.

In practice this means that the PI can emulate an older x86 CPU (say a i486) running at the equivalent of say 66MHz and has say 180 MB of RAM to work with. This makes it possible, with the right software to run windows 3.1, and perhaps windows 95, but nothing more advanced.

Current x86 CPU's these days are also internally RISC processors, as that is the best way to create faster CPU's, so they have hardware internally to "transcode" x86 instructions to a form of RISC, (VLIW) there even has been an attempt to create a RISC processor that transcoded x86 code in real time using its own RISC instructions to those RISC instructions, to create a faster and more power efficient "x86" CPU but that attempt failed, as using more transistors was ultimately a more effective (but energy hungry) solution, and using a few 100 Watt didn't seem to be an issue. It might be possible to write such a real time instruction transcoder in software for the ARM, but I doubt it will be (much) faster than a traditional emulator.
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by plugwash » Mon Apr 30, 2012 10:45 am
mahjongg said:

In practice this means that the PI can emulate an older x86 CPU (say a i486) running at the equivalent of say 66MHz and has say 180 MB of RAM to work with. This makes it possible, with the right software to run windows 3.1, and perhaps windows 95, but nothing more advanced.

It should be possible to run XP under qemu. It won't be fast though.
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by obarthelemy » Mon Apr 30, 2012 10:55 am
MS Education should really be thought off as a part of their marketing dept. MS Ed are not out to make money, but to get youngsters familiar with their wares, so they'll keep buying MS once they're adults and pros. See the heavily discounted students/faculty prices.

I doubt a Windows port + license for the Pi would be sold for much, if anything at all... once the Pi has proven that it can make inroads into schools. I'm even fairly sure MS wouldn't hesitate to corral a big OEM into making a competitor, though probably not make one themselves, to avoid pissing off their partners and having to handle service and support.

FYI, Windows Phone has rather lower memory and CPU requirements than iOS and Android. I don't know about Windows RT, but MS can produce tight code if they set their mind to it and give up on retro-compatibility. Which they have done for Win RT. I couldn't find RT's hardware requirements though.
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by Dave_G_2 » Mon Apr 30, 2012 11:02 am
Will Windows (of any flavour) ever run on the Pi?

You can be pretty sure that M$ will be watching developments very closely and depending on the Pi"s success, they may well consider having a go at a similar project/product as per cheery"s comments.

If/when they do decide to have a go at it, I suspect that it will probably use a rehashed version of CE which has already been ported to ARM and thus will require minimal mods compared to say porting Win8 to ARM from scratch.

M$ has "given" a lot to education, there is no denying that, but the only reason they do this is to "get "em" while they are young and create a whole new base of the next generation users.

Moral and ethical issues aside, it makes economic sense.

If they see a threat to this model, you can bet your bottom dollar/pound/euro that they will do something about it and judging them on their history, joint ventures and partnerships that benefit BOTH sides is not something they are accustomed to.

So go it alone they will and make a competing platform/product.

The result, Windows of any "flavour" will probably never run on the Pi as we know it but there will be a Windows running on a board of similar performance and price.

There will be those that say "yay, I'll get me one of those as it will be a more familiar environment to work with."

And so starts the whole "locked in" scenario all over again as we have with the desktop.
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by mahjongg » Mon Apr 30, 2012 11:16 am
plugwash said:


mahjongg said:


It should be possible to run XP under qemu. It won"t be fast though.



Well, if you can imagine running windows XP on a 33MHz (not 66MHz, see below) CPU then you will know exactly what experience that will be, and "slow" will not be the correct description.

Obviously you could even run cray-1 supercomputer software on an emulated system, (having enough memory resources), but running (say "crawling") and being useable are two different things.

Windows XP officially needed as an absolute minimum a 233 MHz CPU, with at least the Pentium architecture,  because it requires CMPXCHG8B instructions.

That means the emulator will have a much harder task, and thus run even slower, so its not similar to a 66MHz i486, but to a say 33 MHz Pentium 1.

That said, windows 98 needed as an absolute minimum a 66MHz 386, so just perhaps that will run too.

Concerning the notion that Microsoft will bring back Windows CE (now called "windows phone"), especially for the PI, that might happen, but will be a great disappointment for people expecting to run the windows software they know. I do not see it becoming a success, just as Windows CE never took off IMHO.

Microsoft also tried to get it"s foot into the "one per child", but not to great success.

Obviously Microsoft will -try-, as they did with the netbook market, (which also started off with ARM and Linux based netbooks) but good luck to them, this is a different situation….
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by Dave_G_2 » Mon Apr 30, 2012 11:30 am
Even if the Pi could emulate an x86 and be able to run win3.1 or 95, who would want to run it?

They are atrocious OSes.

3.1 is 16 bit and has practically no network support, very bad graphics support amongst other short comings.

95 is not much better.

Neither of them even have the foggiest concept of USB.

@mahjongg

The "official" minimum for XP may well be a 233MHz CPU but I have run XP (SP1) on a PI 200MHz.

A very exasperating experience but run it did.

As you say, CE was never the huge success they hoped for and was later dropped in favour of XP embedded and later 7 embedded.

As far as I know, these were never ported to ARM though.

They no doubt still have the CE source code laying about in some dusty shelf somewhere and may blow out the cobwebs apply a few "tweaks" and use it again on a low spec board similar to the Pi.
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by mahjongg » Mon Apr 30, 2012 11:50 am
mahjongg said:


Obviously Microsoft will -try-, as they did with the netbook market, (which also started off with ARM and Linux based netbooks) but good luck to them, this is a different situation….


A small correction to my own post, obviously the netbook "craze", didn't start off with ARM based netbooks, (although some Chinese netbooks used a different RISC CPU), but that was exactly why Microsoft could take over the market.

Obviously somebody will (and has) objected that they got windows XP "running", on a slightly slower Pentium, but if they are honest they will admit it wasn't a nice experience, and its a lot worse on a CPU that is running at just 1/7th the speed of the minimum.
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by Dave_G_2 » Mon Apr 30, 2012 11:54 am
It was not a nice eXPerience for usage as a "normal" desktop pc

but ran OK as a small server with shared drives.

Correction to your quoted 1/7th the speed, majhongg:

Surely you mean 85% (aprox 6/7) and not 14% as 1/7 would imply?
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by mahjongg » Mon Apr 30, 2012 12:02 pm
What I think that -might- happen is that microsoft lets someone develop* a similar board with the bare minimum specs to run windows 8 on it, at about twice the price of the R-PI. But they have to practically give the software for it away, which is bad for their "bottom line"

Such a thing might be successful, but I doubt it will attract the same community as the R-PI, it might extract the "entrepreneurs" though, and the people looking for a cheap media player.

In the end they will only erode away their profit base if they go that route, though.

* Microsoft normally doesn't develop hardware themselves, for example I read that the legendary "microsoft mouse", was simply a relabeled logitech mouse.
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by mahjongg » Mon Apr 30, 2012 12:05 pm
Dave_G_2 said:


It was not a nice eXPerience for usage as a "normal" desktop pc

but ran OK as a small server with shared drives.


Yes, but that was at a 85% of the minimum speed, not 14%.
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by Dave_G_2 » Mon Apr 30, 2012 12:09 pm
@mahjongg

Believe me, M$ will find a way.

Yes they don"t manufacture hardware themselves but still dictate to the manufactures what to add, remove or disallow.

As regards the speed issue:

you wrote:

"Yes, but that was at a 85% of the minimum speed, not 14%."

Exactly, the point I was trying to make is that XP will run on machines lower then the quoted 233MHz.

How much lower then 200MHz one can go I don't know.
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by Flying Toaster » Mon Apr 30, 2012 12:59 pm

obarthelemy said:

MS Education should really be thought off as a part of their marketing dept. MS Ed are not out to make money, but to get youngsters familiar with their wares, so they'll keep buying MS once they're adults and pros. See the heavily discounted students/faculty prices.


This is exactly what I have been thinking and why I am curious about whether R-P Foundation has made or has plans to strike some sort of deals with Microsoft.

P.S. Since you are an admin here, would you mind if I asked you whether it was supposed to be normal or acceptable here to have posters throwing around phrases like "M$" or going into irrelevant tangents despite repeated clarification on the subject matter? Even though all that doesn't get to me personally, it does still strike me as a bit, say, odd.
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by rurwin » Mon Apr 30, 2012 1:16 pm
A few years back, the eeePC came out with Linux on it. There were the same queries that we see here "will it run Windows?" and since it was an Intel beast the answer was "yes but very slowly." Shortly after launch over half of the interested developers were running Windows and the Linux developer base was a shadow of what it had been. Shortly thereafter Asus increased the memory and shipped it with Windows. Whether that was at the request of its users or Microsoft makes no great difference.

If a Windows machine is available, people will use it in preference to the RaspPi, and they will spend more to get it.

The one thing Microsoft cannot allow to happen is that the next generation of programmers come out of school knowing more about Linux than about Windows. They are willing to spend billions of dollars to ensure that does not happen.

Expect to see that £50 Windows computer at a school near you within the next year. That is not necessarily a bad thing, unless you are a Linux fanatic, because it will come with huge amounts of support materials.

If all the RaspPi does is force Microsoft to support the teaching of computing, then it will have been a success. It's only us Linux fanatics who will be crying into our real ale.
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by Dave_G_2 » Mon Apr 30, 2012 1:25 pm
@rurwin

A very likely scenario.

@Flying Toaster

Perhaps you could be so kind as listing the posts which you perceive as "irrelevant tangents".

For your convenience, a number is displayed on the right hand side above each post.

This, I'm sure, would aid the admins in rooting out the responsible party/ies and castigate, ostracize them, or (dare I even mention it) have their RASPIs confiscated for such belligerent behaviour.

That will teach these dastardly offenders.

What exactly is so odd or unacceptable with using M$?
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by tufty » Mon Apr 30, 2012 1:50 pm
cheery said:


Raspberry Pi is going to burn hole into Microsoft's pocket by training lot of capable programmers with linux background. They cannot counter this due to their inability to control memory usage, or portability of their operating systems.


The goal is not to train kids to be Linux programmers, but to enable the teaching of computer science.  As such, if the right materials are provided, it matters very little whether the "tool" used is the Raspberry Pi or the PCs most schools already have, and it matters very little whether the environment is developed by Apple, MS, the open source community, or even SCO.  Well, OK, scratch the last one.

That said, anything that tries to leverage a teaching tool to encourage / increase corporate lockin is bad, mmmkayyyy.  And, given past performance, it's a pretty good bet that that's exactly what MS will try to do.

If they do it sensibly, it will be free installs of Visual Studio (computer science edition) with a bunch of heavy duty teaching materials included.

If they do it wrong, they'll push out their own Wortleberry Flan SBC which runs the aforementioned software, and take the loss on the hardware.  It's not like they can't afford it, anyway.  This will be hyped as "innovation" in the computer press.


You can be sure they attempt to pull up their own malformed version of RPi at some point. Just give them two years to notice what I just said.


So you expect it to come out at about the time the Pi actually hits schools?
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