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Microsoft Sharks Cove launches – what's the point of the new $300 board computer?

James Temperton
31 Jul 2014
Microsoft Sharks Cove
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Sharks Cove board computer costs $300 ($192) but Microsoft says it is not intended to compete with the $35 Raspberry Pi

Not to be outdone by the $35 Raspberry Pi Model B+, Microsoft has launched its own tiny board computer called Sharks Cove. The catch? It costs $300 (£192). Microsoft has said the computer is a development board for Windows and Android, with its high price making it unlikely to challenge the Pi as the hobbyist computer of choice.

Sharks Cove was announced by Microsoft back in April and it is finally available for pre-order. The board has an Intel ATOM quad-core 1.33GHz processor, 1GB of memory and 16GB of storage. There's also full-sized HDMI and MIPI connectors, a microSD port and a USB 2 port. There's no Ethernet or Wi-Fi, with Sharks Cove requiring USB adapters to connect to the internet. A full list of pins is available on the Sharks Cove website.

Microsoft has admitted that the $300 (£192) price-tag may put hobbyists off, explaining that it is primarily for developers. The board comes with a full version of Windows 8.1 with Microsoft saying it can be used to develop software and drivers for devices running Windows, including phones and tablets.

While the 6in by 4in board may look a lot like the Raspberry Pi, this is clearly a very different proposition. Pi doesn't come with an operating system, nor does it have on-board storage. The Pi also has half the memory and a slower processor, helping to keep its cost down to $35. Microsoft has said that comparing Pi and Sharks Cove was misleading.

"We want to provide more clarity as we are seeing a lot of direct comparisons between Sharks Cove and Raspberry Pi," said Michael Fourre, a developer at Microsoft.

"The primary focus for Sharks Cove is to support Windows IHV’s [independent hardware vendor) and ODM’s [original design manufacturer], who need a Windows compatible system that is appropriate for hardware and driver development."

A dedicated Sharks Cove forum has been created on the Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) with pre-orders being taken through Mouser Electronics. Sharks Cove can be pre-ordered now in the UK for £192.99.

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