The original Raspberry Pi Model B was launched in 2012 by the Raspberry Pi Foundation, an educational charity based in the U.K. The goal was to get children more interested in programming by giving them a cheap, simple computer that they could experiment with.
The computer, which ran versions of the Linux operating system, sold out on launch and has been relatively popular among educators and do-it-yourself electronics enthusiasts in the "maker" community.
The Raspberry Pi 2 has double the memory and a processor six times more powerful than the original version, according to the Raspberry Pi Foundation.
"It's got enough horsepower to do some interesting stuff," said Chris Tyler, an industrial research chair at the Centre for Development of Open Technology at Seneca College in Toronto. "It would be a good foundation for a basic desktop machine."
Tyler said that wasn't the case for the original version, for which he wrote open source software packages. While the previous Raspberry Pi could run hardware such as 3D printers, it wasn't quite up to word processing or image editing. Tyler said he is currently making plans for software to support the Raspberry Pi 2.
Like its predecessor, the Raspberry Pi 2 comes as a single board, with no case, screen, or input devices, and will run versions of the Linux operating system.
But it will also run a free version of Windows 10, Microsoft announced in a post on website for developers. In a statement, Microsoft said the "maker" community — do-it-yourself enthusiasts who embraced the original Raspberry Pi — are "an amazing source of innovation for smart, connected devices … and we're excited to be part of this community."
The company has not said when Windows 10, including the free version, will launch. But it said it would share more details in "coming months."
The original Raspberry Pi has sold millions of copies around the world, including Canada. Tyler said it's already used in some Toronto schools and others are making plans to use it.
According to Alex Lai, digital design technician at the Fort York Branch of the Toronto Public Library, as of this past summer, cases for the original Raspberry Pi were one of the most popular objects printed by library users with the library's 3D printers.
Both the original Model B and the cheaper Model A version will continue to be available, the Raspberry Pi Foundation said.
Also on HuffPost: