Windows 10 IoT Core on the Raspberry Pi 4: Will Microsoft support the $35 computer?

Windows 10 IoT Core does not support new versions of the low-cost Raspberry Pi computer since 2016.

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The low-cost Raspberry Pi computer has been closely linked to Windows 10 IoT Core since the OS was revealed along with the Pi 2 in 2015.

But in the intervening years, the situation has changed, with the latest Raspberry Pi that Windows 10 IoT Core officially backed up as the Raspberry Pi 3, launched at the beginning of 2016.

Since then, two newer versions of Pi have been released, the Pi 3 B + in 2018 and the Pi 4 Model B in June of this year.

The uncertain future of Windows 10 on the Pi recently reappeared, when a member of the Microsoft Contingent Staff said he did not expect Windows 10 IoT Core to be compatible with the recently released Raspberry Pi 4.

"Given the need for a new Raspbian operating system, we do not expect the existing FFU [Full Flash Updates] for Windows 10 IoT Core to be compatible with this platform," he wrote.

When approached for clarification, a Microsoft spokesman said that the only official comment was that "we are excited to see the new RPi4 platform and are evaluating the numerous hardware changes."

It is important to note that Windows 10 IoT Core is not the same version of Windows 10 that runs on a desktop PC, but it is a much simpler and simplified version.

This operating system will not start it on the traditional Windows desktop, but is designed to run only a single-ended universal Windows platform (UWP) application at the same time.

The real purpose of Windows 10 IoT Core in Pi is to run small applications, which are implemented on the board from a PC. These applications could do anything from taking temperature sensor readings to acting as a simple web server.

The lack of support in Pi 4 may not come as a surprise, since there is no official support for the previous generation Pi 3 B +. The situation even led a Microsoft employee to put together an unofficial guide to make Windows 10 IoT Core work on the Pi 3 B + using an unsupported technical preview

In general, Windows 10 IoT Core is lagging behind of its desktop counterpart, with no final version of the May 2019 update, version 1903, released for Windows 10 IoT Core yet.

However, the fact that the Pi 3 B + is compatible, although with a variety of problems, in the latest technical versions of Windows 10 IoT Core suggests that Microsoft has not renounced Pi support.

It could even be that Microsoft is planning larger changes in the operating system to take advantage of the significant increase in power of the Pi 4, with the low-cost board that supports up to 4GB of DDR4 RAM, a new CPU and GPU, and 4K double. Sample

When it comes to the full desktop version of Windows 10, the co-creator of the Raspberry Pi Eben Upton said before the launch of Pi 4 that he believes that Pi 4 has the ability to run Windows 10 in Arm , but that support was a "question for Microsoft."

So far there have been no indications that Microsoft is thinking of adding such support and is not sure how well Windows 10 would perform in Arm on Pi 4, given that the first Windows 10 machines in Arm with octa-processors core and 4GB memory criticized for struggling with web browsing.

Upton also noted that Pi, with its optimized Raspbian desktop and Chrome browser, offers "an environment equivalent to Windows" anyway, so the need to run Windows is not really urgent.

On a related note, Microsoft has been equally calm about its use of Windows Server on Arm with its Azure cloud platform, with an absence of significant updates to the project in the two years since it was announced.

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The Raspberry Pi 4 does not turn on when used with certain USB-C cables.

Image: Nick Heath / TechRepublic

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