Microsoft giving away free Windows 8.1 for IoT fans

Microsoft has developed a "non-commercial version of Windows based on Windows 8.1" for developers who buy Intel Galileo boards.

According to PC World, it is a "pared-down, proof-of-concept" version of the operating system that is designed to work specifically with that hardware.

Given that the Galileo board runs a Quark X1000 processor, that is essentially an enhanced Pentium 400MHz CPU, it's interesting to see that Microsoft did not go down the route of Windows Embedded 8, but instead opted to customise "full-fat" Windows 8.1.

That is despite both being targeted at the same embedded, connected market commonly known as the Internet of Things (IoT).

A spokesperson for Microsoft commented: "The preview Windows image is another opportunity for makers and developers to create, generate new ideas and provide feedback to help Microsoft continue making Windows even better on this class of device".

A number of retailers are now selling the soon-to-be-retired first generation of Intel's Galileo for under £40, which is less than twice the retail price of its arch-rival, the Raspberry Pi.

Galileo was launched earlier this year as part of Intel's Arduino-certified development boards based on its ubiquitous x86 architecture. The Windows preview runs only on the Intel Galileo Gen 1 with v1.0.2 firmware and can be downloaded here.