Even since the first low cost mini PCs and TV sticks started to come to market there was lots of confusion about Windows 8.1/10 licenses, because while small tablets could be shipped with Windows 8.1 with Bing/Windows 10 with a free license, mini PCs required a different discounted NTE license costing between $15 and $30. Price differs depending who your ask… So while the cheapest devices normally shipped unactivated, some companies like PiPo decided to install Windows with the latest version to cut costs… Microsoft eventually noticed, and PiPo had to stopped the practise, instead making mini PCs with small displays…
The exact hardware requirements were also unclear so far for either the free or discount tablet, but the following table dropped in my email Inbox recently… It explains which hardware is accepted for an Entry level license.
OST means Online Service Terms, and the devices matching the hardware requirements above should be eligible for a discount. A Low End CPUs should be Intel Bay Trail, and Cherry Trail processor, and most likely Braswell and Apollo Lake too, plus some AMD processors. So if you buy a Intel Core iX processor, you should not get a free/cheap Windows license.
Windows 10 mini PCs like Beelink BT7 and Vorke V1 match most requirements of the “WW Entry Desktop/AiO” with a low end Atom X7-Z8700 and Celeron J3160 processor, 4GB RAM, no hard drive, and no optical drive. However, they fail the maximum storage requirements since they ship with at least 64GB internal flash. That means they should be paying the full Windows 10 license, and while they come activated, they are likely in breach of Windows OST. I’ve also been informed Microsoft has been taking legal action against at least one manufacturer of non-compliant devices.
Jean-Luc started CNX Software in 2010 as a part-time endeavor, before quitting his job as a software engineering manager, and starting to write daily news, and reviews full time later in 2011.
Honestly the 32GB limit seems a bit silly given the complications that come with such small storage come update time (or at least I’ve read that it can make things difficult, no first-hand experience though).
Windows can never catch the mini pc market .. there are thousands of low cost ARM boards r there in the market , its impossible to port windows .. So Intel atom is the only way forward forward for them.. but atom processors are very costly & designwise complicated ..
The odd thing is Google are even making it hard for Remix OS. You would think this area would be a new market for a advance consumer Linux , Android to gain ground in?
Windows are leaving the door wide open to the competion?
do these terms take into account upgradability? e.g. can one ship an atom mini-pc with dimm sockets & m.2 slots, populated to 4GB & 32GB respectively (or even lower), allowing users to upgrade to 16GB & 1TB?
So, can we activate our not-activated sticks? 😉
That’s an interesting question, but I don’t have the answer, unless “No HDD” / “No ODD” actually means no SATA interface.