Understanding Windows 8.1 Licenses with MeegoPad T01 (and Other Intel Atom Bay Trail mini PCs)

MeegoPad T01 was initially announced as a dual boot Windows 8.1 and Android 4.4 HDMI Stick, and it became quite popular. But as it has recently started shipping, Android is gone, and people who receive it only have Windows 8.1 to play with. Unfortunately, as the review embedded at the end of this post clearly indicates it’s running with a Windows 8.1 trial version that needs to be activated and with an invalid serial number, so it can only be used for 30 days… Normally, I would not be so interested in a Windows 8.1 only device, but since many people seem to have acquired one, it’s probably useful to look into what can be done about the license.


So what could you do? There are several options:

  1. One person decided to buy a Windows 8.1 License. Cost? $119.99 + $7.20 for tax for a grand total of $127.19, or more than the device itself
  2. Use a pirated version. I’m not sure how to do, plus it’s illegal, and you’ll lose access to all security updates. Clearly not recommended.
  3. Boot Ubuntu from a USB drive instead. This requires quite a few steps, and Wi-Fi does not work, so you’d need a USB to Ethernet dongle.
  4. You could also try to negotiate a refund with a seller, either full or partial. That will teach them they should not sell products with trial versions of operating systems. With Ebay/Aliexpress, you’d usually have to pay for return shipping if you want a full refund, and if you have already confirmed reception it will be tricky. With DealExtreme, the company may also reimburse shipping fees (up to a certain percentage), as the product was not sold as described (TBC).

If you have not purchased one yet, it does not mean you should avoid this product, and potentially other Intel Atom Z3735 TV boxes and sticks, because there are actually two Windows 8.1 options, as shown on maketheone.com:

  • Windows 8.1 with Bing (Factory activated) – $139
  • Windows 8.1 Pro (30-day trial version) – $108 [Update: Apparently Microsoft does not allow this]

So it becomes clearly that most sellers have gone with the “cheaper” option, providing a 30-day trial of Windows with the device, and if you want something that works without spending an extra $120 or or, go the illegal route, or want to tinker with it and install Ubuntu, Android, or other operating systems (FreeDOS anyone?) you should insist on getting Windows 8.1 with Bing for an extra $29.

You may wonder why Windows 8.1 with Bing is free when you purchased a tablet, but should be $29 on mini PCs? Here’s the explanation from makeone? thanks to Ian Morrison (read comments section on G+ link):

Windows 8.1 with Bing and Windows 8.1 with Bing for Stick are two distinct versions, at least for now. The former is free for manufacturer’s of tablet’s under 9 inches, and some others as mentioned in the article you pasted here. The latter, however, is not free for manufacturers of “computer sticks”, as of yet. There might be changes in the future, but as of now, it is not free. This piece of information can be verified, if you delve deeper or ask Microsoft employees.

and after noticing there;’s no such thing as  “Windows 8.1 with Bing for StickTM”:

My apologies for complicating things. There is not an official name from Microsoft as “Windows 8.1 with Bing for Stick”, the name was used by the manufacturer, instead just calling it ‘OEM’.

So there you have it, if you don’t get the “free” 30-day trial version of Windows 8.1 Pro, you’d need to pay extra $29 at purchase to get a valid Windows 8.1 OEM license. God knows what happens if your Windows gets corrupted, as there’s obviously no “recovery CD”…

If you have other such low cost Windows 8.1 devices based on Intel Atom Bay-Trail SoCs such as Pipo X7, I’m sure others would be interested to read about your experience.

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53 Replies to “Understanding Windows 8.1 Licenses with MeegoPad T01 (and Other Intel Atom Bay Trail mini PCs)”

  1. @Spicysaturdayboy
    You’re right: http://www.freaktab.com/showthread.php?22008-My-Pipo-X7-Windows-8-1-Mini-PC-Review&p=271257#post271257
    That’s really confusing.. Microsoft really made a mess with that Microsoft 8 With Bing thing…

    I don’t know if the version they demonstrated before is available for download, but it might be possible to run that version: https://01.org/android-ia/downloads

    Linuxium has already managed to tri-boot the device with Windows, Ubuntu and Android.

    I don’t know what he used for Android yet.

  2. I’ve got one more comment by one of my contacts:
    “Pipo x7 uses the tablet OEM license, however, microsoft should not allow this”.
    So we’ll see how it goes…

  3. To be quite honest I’ve never had any worries about licenses. I generally use Linux and when I do need Windows I just prefer stuff I can find on my local friendly torrent site.
    It’s not just the money that you need to pay for a Windows license, it’s just too much of a pain in the ass with the whole OEM which you can’t transfer and activation and update and all kinds of crap. The ones on the torrent sites come with the updates installed are activated with KMS.
    Not saying this is good and that people should do as I do but unless I find a very good reason not to I’m going to stick to what works for me.

  4. I agreed all what you wrote about. Like Pipo X7, one user confirmed “Windows is activated” on his device on Freaktab.
    http://www.freaktab.com/showthread.php?21475-Freaktab-Developer-Review-Pipo-X7-Windows-8-1-TV-Box/page2 (Post #26)

    I also like what Linuxium explained about on Freaktab.
    http://www.freaktab.com/showthread.php?21475-Freaktab-Developer-Review-Pipo-X7-Windows-8-1-TV-Box/page8 (Post #145)

    He demonstrated capabilities what this device can do as original advertise however this software support should come more from manufacturers or sellers side than we find the way ourself.

    So I’m just a user and I hope I’ll get what I buy for as product described anyway thanks for all developers to make these little devices more stable, powerful and useful.

  5. Hey Pipo, I don’t care about Windows. Just update the 32Bit UEFI to 64Bit and I will be a happy customer.

  6. I purchased a win 8.1 license off taobao for $20, in the future I’d rather spend $29 and get it with the Meego-t01.

    I’ve got wifi running in Ubuntu 14.10. It’s pretty easy to get it up and running…even in a livecd environment.
    or just wait a week or so, I’m making a modified Ubuntu Mate 14.10 x64 livecd including the 32-bit .efi, wifi driver/source, and updated grub2.
    I’m still working on audio and getting very close, if I finish I’ll add it to the livecd

  7. @deadhp1
    Just to be clear, since these devices use Intel chips, cannot *any* distro of Linux be installed i.e. not just Ubuntu? I prefer Mint Linux myself, specifically LMDE (Linux Mint Debian Edition).

  8. I love this site, but please refrain from providing legal advice. In the US, and most everywhere else, providing legal advice can be dangerous for you, and you are not providing any service by doing so.

    “… a pirated version. I’m not sure how to do, plus it’s illegal…”

    We are every interested in your opinion on SOC’s but no one came here for your (incorrect) opinions on what is or is not legal in MY particular jurisdiction.

  9. To Morgan

    Keep your judgment to yourself no one cane here for your opinion.

    Just because the website authour states something regarding legal issues does not make it ” legal advice”.

    The reviews are dine in a first person blog style as if the author were talking casually to you about his keen interests.
    The fact that you can differentiate between this keen interest and another subject that may be commented upon, whether that be a layman’s vernacular regarding rights enforceable by law or the weather for the next 7 days means that you should well know that he his no expert in these other subjects and that he is providing no personal direction or device in that regard.

    While I agree it may not necessarily be a prudent idea or could have been stated differently the fact that it may not be relevant to your particular jurisdiction is not the point. Don’t take what you read on the internet so personally it is not meant for you in fact no one cares what you think regarding about providing advice which I didn’t nthink the author was doing anyway

  10. @ Morgan Ross Egging
    Why, piracy is not piracy (and illegal) in every corner of the world ??
    Sorry, but I really don’t understand your comment… if you care to explain I will be glad to learn.

  11. @darethehair
    I don’t see why not, as long as the distro can be made to support booting with efi in 32 bit mode.
    Support for baytrail-t chips in linux isn’t great, but it’s getting there. I’m working on Ubuntu first since it’s what I use.
    I installed XBMC in ubuntu 14.10 and it played back 1.2gb 20minute 1080p mkv with no dropped frames and about about 20% cpu usage across the cores.

    The pipo x7 should boot, but I’m not sure what wifi it has or any other quirks that may need to be resolved.
    You could also try Fedlet or even some of the livecd’s made for the Asus t100.
    If I remember to add the proper device id to the rtl8723bs wifi driver it would boot and have wifi for the HP Stream 7 tablet.

  12. I would like Intel to also offer a version of their stick with more ram/storage running Ubuntu, anyway to let them know?

    Also I hope megoo, pipo can also offer it

  13. @Manny
    So far it’s not source changes, but rather configuring the system that’s a bit difficult. The audio may require a patch, I’m still looking around for more info.

    Good news! The livecd will probably work on it too.

    I made a test iso of the Ubuntu Mate 14.10 livecd today. It boots and has working wifi, but I still need to work on getting it to install the 32-bit efi properly and ideally working audio would be nice.

  14. @deadhp1
    I got the Ubuntu 14.10 liveusb booting on the meegopad, installed the system (on sdcard) but I didn’t manage to get it booting yet. The installation is fine but the efi grub and configuration are not there yet.

    I was not able to find anyone who booted an installed system of ubuntu 14.10.

    Is anybody interested in a joint effort to get ubuntu installed and booting correctly?

  15. @Morgan Ross Egging

    What exactly did he say that would get him in trouble? He said you shouldn’t pirate. But windows piracy is a big thing and somehow you can’t mention it? What the hell is wrong with you?

  16. @attila16881
    I built a Ubuntu MATE 14.10 livecd for the Meegopad-t01 specifically to have working wifi. It could probably be used for other baytrail devices.
    It can also install onto the internal mmc…usb is a bit tricky if you already have the grub bootloader on the mmc.
    This livecd probably won’t boot or install on systems with a 64-bit efi, but it’s great for those with 32-bit efi.

    Install Video:

  17. MeLE just released their MeLE PCG03, and they told me it comes with “Window 8.1 with Bing NTE”, “the official name which Microsoft definate for Mini pc license”.

  18. I’ve received a comment from somebody with a Microsoft email address, and apparently it’s not OK for manufacturers to install trail version of Windows:

    I’ve brought up the subject of whether distributors are allowed to ship Windows 8.1 in a “trial” state to our licensing dept. So far it’s looking like this is a no-no.

  19. well I followed deadhp1 and purchased a win 8.1 license from taobao for €18, they make me receive from microsoft a mail containing a working license. For now it is a decent solution until a full working linux kernel with all driver is out.

  20. @deadhp1
    Thanks! I tried and it didn’t work for me initially, then I discovered that the main problem is booting from SD Card.

    I am trying to not affect the NAND Flash with Windows but it seems that, even if the boot option from SD Card is there, it does not really work. I assume is a bug or a not completed feature in the current UEFI BIOS.

    I think it would be great to find a source on where to find and how to upgrade the UEFI BIOS. The current one is buggy, it was just released before Xmas.

    In the end I found a solution installing the system on SD Card but the EFI bootloader (/BOOT/EFI) and grub+linux images (/boot) to an USB which I have to keep connected. The system is way faster from SD Card than USB and I am not touching the Windows partition.

    Now I am looking install a standard Ubuntu Vivid.

    PS: I would like to discuss a bit more about that but to register on that forum you are posting is painful, the anti-bot protection does not really work and I can’t enter the right word to get registered.

  21. hi, I got one of these stick computing things but cannot seen to boot from USB (try to install windows 7). in DOS it run through all the options by itself thus I cannot select to boot from USB! has anyone got this same problem? would love a solution. thx

  22. I’ve been told the meegopad T01 with proper license should have a serial number on the device itself:

    The serial number sticker on the Meegopad T01 is service ID from manufacture.
    KEEP IT for future exchange for legitimate, re-activation code from Microsoft, if you need to re-install Windows.

  23. @stewie
    Having the exact same problem as you with cycling through options, and even if I press enter while it is on the correct boot option, the screen will only flash and it continues cycling. The os it came with was unlicensed, and contained several chinese programs, albeit they looked legit, ie antivirus, wifi, etc. I tried uninstalling them and now windows refuses to boot at all, and considering I cannot boot from a flash drive either, I now have a $120 paper weight. My advice to anyone else considering a purchase would be to steer clear and wait for something else.

  24. This has been an expensive lesson for being technically curious. Bought a MeeGo Pad T01 from Chinavasion, and found the ‘Trial’ Windows 8.1 was a blocked OEM key, and laden with malware incl. 2345 search engine hijacker, in total 12 pre installed Chinese programs. Feeling unsafe I created a bootable USB to wipe and reinstall a legit licensed version of Windows 8.1 but after wasting hours failing to reboot via F7 or BIOS boot options, I just found this thread which seems to confirm that others have tried and failed to do the same. When I first logged into my windows account, windows syncs the MeeGo Pad setting to my other 8 PCs causing default homepage t o change from bing.com to 2345.com. I am not certain of the trial Win8.1 was legit or not (I suspect not) but would warn others of my experience, and recommend waiting for Intel Comput Stick incl. Licensed Windows with Bing instead. Hope this helps!

  25. My T01 came with an activated version of Windows 8.1 with Bing. So far, yay!

    Ofcourse, it’s also filled with Chinese malware and other junk, so I reinstalled from a Windows 8.1 installation USB stick. (It will only start 32 bits Windows btw.)

    All I need now is to find out how I can re-activate my Windows 8.1 with Bing key.

    I used some tool to get the ‘Bing’ key from the original installation. This wouldn’t work with my retail installation stick, so I have to try and find out how to activate it. Essentially the ‘Bing’ version and the regular non-Pro version are the same, so ethically it shouldn’t be a problem to re-activate it. Only the technical side is an issue. 🙂

    Any help?

  26. @willemd

    Perhaps you can try Advanced Tokens Manager by Josh Cell to backup the activation from the original installation and restore it in the new installation?

    BTW can you share the process to reinstall Windows 8.1 x86 on this device please? Judging from the comments above, it seems that some users really had trouble reinstalling this device.

  27. I’ll check that out, thanks. Although I see their website lists Win 8.1 only as partially supported.

    What I did to install a new Windows 8.1:

    Prepare USB install:
    I ‘made’ a Windows installation ISO using a Microsoft Media tool: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-8/create-reset-refresh-media . However, this will NOT make a With Bing version, so you’ll end up with the same problem I had. 😉 That tool will only make a Windows 7 or 8 regular or Professional version. So not relevant for the Meegopad.

    From another forum I found there’s an ISO called X19-57272_SW_DVD9_NTRL_Win_with_Bing_8.1_64BIT_English_OEM that can install a With Bing edition, but English only and not officially released by Microsoft for regular customers. More info: http://forums.mydigitallife.info/threads/56755-Windows-8-1-with-Bing-AKA-CoreConnected-CCSL-and-ProfessionalStudent-OEM-images . I haven’t tried that yet, but it should work. You need the 32 bits, since the UEFI from our Meegopad won’t start 64 bits, at least not without some tweaking. A slow machine like this with just 2 GB RAM doesn’t profit from 64 bits anyway.

    I wrote the ISO to a USB stick with Rufus at https://rufus.akeo.ie/ . Format it as FAT32, with GPT partition table for UEFI. That worked for me. Standard it wants to format as MBR for BIOS, but that may not work. Haven’t tried that though. There are plenty of other ISO writing tools available and this is just the one I tried.

    Plug in the USB stick to your Meegopad. You may need a USB hub to get both a keyboard and the USB stick to work. Turn on your Meegopad. Directly after power on, press the Del key until you get in the UEFI (BIOS like screen). Get it to boot to the USB stick and not ‘Windows Boot Manager’ (i.e. the pre-installed Windows). Save settings and reset.

    At that point it got me in the Windows installer, which tells you what to do. From there on everything was regular installing. DON’T FORMAT THE EXISTING PARTITIONS except for the 30GB one. Apparently it needs the 100MB partition to boot anything.

    – The Meegopad is picky about the USB sticks. It wouldn’t boot my USB 3 sticks, but an old USB 2 stick worked fine.
    – I assume the With Bing ISO I described will activate with your licence key. I don’t know if it will get the key from the UEFI or if you need to back it up from the existing Windows installation. To be safe, write down the existing key. 😉 Plenty of guides on the Internet that tell you how to.
    – Not all drivers for our Meegopad are in a standard Windows 8.1, so you may have to download some. I use a USB to Ethernet that functioned automatically, but I don’t know if the WiFi functions out of the box.
    – Installing Linux: http://www.cnx-software.com/2015/01/19/install-ubuntu-14-10-on-meegopad-t01-with-a-live-iso/ I tried the live version and that worked well enough to use it to backup the MMC. Haven’t installed it to disk. More info (but more complicated, and I guess a bit outdated) at
    http://reboot.pro/topic/20334-tri-booting-on-meegopad-t01/ You may want to use part of these instructions to make a backup of the total MMC in case something goes wrong.

    I have not yet installed drivers, but according to other websites, some Windows drivers can be found at:
    https://www.google.nl/search?q=光棍一号T01驱动.rar Yeah, I don’t read Chinese but clicking on some blue buttons started a download. 😉

    So, this is what I know. Many things are just things that I read from other users, but it got me so far that I had a working live Ubuntu Linux edition, and I installed a working Windows 8.1. Just don’t know all about the activitation and the drivers that will be required.

    When I get it the way I want it, the Meegopad will function as my Kodi stick that can VPN into my server at home, so I can watch live tv and my ripped movies and tv series anywhere. It’s just a toy for me, but I love it already.

  28. @willemd
    You splendid chap, I owe you a beer! Thanks so much for the tip re 32-bit only, I’d been going around in circles!
    I’d also purchased an external Samsung SE-208 USB DVD drive from Amazon (plus USB Y-cable), USB mini hub and HDMI extension cable – My spare Win 8.1 came with both 32 and 64-bit DVDs, and I’m pleased to report F7 boot allowed the DVD UEFI to boot with the 32-bit DVD where 64-bit had not worked. I’ve now blown away all partitions of the malware bloated illegal ‘trial’ OS, and will sleep easier tonight.
    Thanks again, and wish everyone success with their MeeGo Pad T01 OS installs!

  29. Ohh I like beer. 😀

    Anyway, a little later I found out that the ‘activated’ licence key that was in my original installation is just a hacked volume licence key that Microsoft has already blocked. (I typed in the first three characters and Google immediately added the rest. Haha.) So there goes the little trust I had in Chinese ebay sellers. 😉 I’m not sure what I’m going to do next, since a real licence key (OEM) costs almost as much as the Meegopad itself and that’s not worth it. I might try Ubuntu Linux.

  30. Is there any way to get digital audio from jack output?
    I dont want to replace my good ol’ home theater amplifier just for this.

  31. I have tried for hours and hours to try and install Ubuntu on 3 meegopad T02 sticks my company got for kiosks. I have spent at least 20-30 hours trying to install Ubuntu. The problem is Atom Baytrail uses a 64bit OS but for some reason through a horrible design flaw, only can boot with 32bit booter/UEFI shell. I have tried 3-4 major well documented tutorials i have found on the web over and over with 5 different versions of Ubuntu and I kid you not nothing worked. Every time i ran into errors following the guides step by step, including the guides for the ASUS T100 which i guess has a similar problem, and when i finally got it to install, I would still need to have the USB drive in to boot, and you still would have to hold down f7, select the OS (on Flash Drive or sometimes installed would work) and then select “Try Ubuntu Without Installing” from a GRUB menu. The questionably legal Windows 8 worked fine, but neither setup would cut it for our application, therefore we returned all 3 of them to Amazon.

    Thats my experience, make of it what you will.

    1. Matt, I don’t get your problem. You can run Ubuntu 32-bit from Linuxium on MeegoPad without any problems. Why would you need 64-bit OS?

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