The MeegoPad T01 is one of the smallest computers available with an Intel processor and Windows 8.1 software. Unfortunately it turns out it doesn’t come with a licensed version of Windows.

Retailers started selling the MeegoPad T01 and similar devices in November, and now that customers are starting to receive their units it’s become clear that part of the reason the computer sells for as low as $100 is because it ships with an unactivated trial version of Windows 8.1.

That means you’ll either need to buy a license or install your own operating system.


While Microsoft offers Windows 8.1 licenses free of charge to manufacturers of Windows tablets with 9 inch or smaller screens, the MeegoPad T01 and other tiny desktop computers don’t count… because they’re not tablets.

Microsoft does offer a low-cost version of its operating system called Windows 8.1 with Bing, but it’s cheap… not free. From what I’ve heard that means makers of small desktop computers had to pay $15 for a license in 2014, and about $27 for a license in 2015.

In order to keep hardware prices low, it looks like some Chinese device makers are shipping products like the MeegoPad T01 with a trial version of Windows… which is free.


Windows piracy has been prevalent in China for years, so I suspect the idea is to just let customers find their own product keys — since paying for a full Windows license would more than double the cost of a $100 computer.

But there are other options available.

Ian Morrison, for instance, has figured out how to install 3 different operating systems on his ADPM-D01 computer (which is basically a MeegoPad T01 with a different name). He’s triple-booting Windows 8.1, Ubuntu 12.04, and Android 4.4.

meegopad tri

All told, if you want a tiny, cheap Windows PC you’re probably best off opting for one that costs a little more and which comes with an activated version of Windows 8.1 with Bing.

Later this year Intel plans to launch its own model called the Intel Compute Stick. It’ll sell for $149 with Windows or $89 with Linux (although the cheaper model will also have less memory and storage).

Or if you don’t want to wait that long… and don’t need Windows, you could try running a different operating system on the MeegoPad T01. Just don’t expect a lot of official support for Ubuntu, Android, or other operating systems.

via zdanee, Lon Seidman,, and CNX Software

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55 replies on “MeegoPad T01 PC Stick ships with unlicensed Windows 8.1”

  1. Just received one today form China and it now ships with the Bing version of Windows.

  2. Can you install Windows 10 on this stick ? It is free for download. In that way you can avoid unlicensed windows problem 😉

  3. Meegopad T01 NEWS: Nice tri-booting how to (Windows/Android/Ubuntu) on this little device, thanks to Ian Morrison: Still no easy solution for wifi, bluetooth, and sdcard in Ubuntu. But I wonder if once Android is on there if Ubuntu can’t be shoehorned with chroot, that is, if Android handles the troublesome hardware…

  4. How is this considered so much different from those desktops PCs with official fully licensed OEM version of windows that have a plethora of trialware – read junk ware – installed ?

    And if you consider all the pirating going on with Windows OS most buyers might be planning to go that route !

    It would most certainly come in handy when traveling with only your smart phone, like I do !


    “The MeegoPad T01 started to go on sale in November last year and for those who have started to receive their units at their doorsteps have realized that the reason behind this unbelievably low price ($100 a pop for some) is because it ships alongside an unactivated trial version of Windows 8.1. In other words, you will need to pony up the money to purchase a license or install your very own operating system. What a bummer, huh? ” -So not true. Well not anymore. On Maketheone, we stated clearly that customers have two OS options:

    Windows 8.1 with Bing – Factory Activated for USD138 – 32GB version

    According to explanation of the Meegopad’s creator himself, this is an OEM version for compute sticks, bulk purchased by manufacturer from Microsoft, downloaded from Microsoft server, preinstalled and activated within the manufacturing process. This is by far the only activated and officially authorized version of Windows 8.1 for Meegopad T01. There will be more authorized versions of Windows and other OS’es released in the near future. Please wait for further notices.

    Windows 8.1 Pro – 30-Day Trial Version for USD109 – 32GB version

    Also preinstalled by the manufacturer. Once entering the account, you will be on a 30day free trial. If you wish to upgrade it to the authorized version, the Microsoftstore is one of the legitimate source for your purchase, unrelated to Meegopad production and Maketheone services.

    People interested in the Meegopad T01 now do have a choice with less hassle, legitimate source and fair cost.

    We now offer Meegopad Travel Kit as well:

  6. It is a bit scam-ish if they advertise it as “coming with Windows” or something like that.

    They sould sell it similarly as the Intel computing stick. A more expensive version with Windows that includes the license fee and a cheaper Linux version.

    The Linux version will be way cheaper of course because it needs also much-much less storage for the OS and requires less RAM for proper operation.

    1. Initially I wasn’t even sure the device would ship with Windows installed. It was labeled as being compatible with Windows and Android, and made no specific mention of it being installed.

  7. China been selling notebooks and desktops for years with an unlicensed or pirated Windows OS.

  8. Microsoft needs to consider discounting Windows licenses for these PC sticks. Otherwise, I could see Google jumping in with a version of Chrome OS for them. So does Microsoft want these things to become thought of as “Chromesticks” instead of “Winsticks”?

      1. That is $27 starting with 2015 according to the article. Not so cheap since the stick itself costs $100.

  9. I remember on various sites I tried to tell people that this was going to be the case, but hey were all quick to jump gun and say MS was giving licenses for free even though these aren’t tablets. I hope they all feel stupid now.

  10. This is probably the dumbest way ever to lose the western market. Right now there is no competitor to the MeegoPad, not in this size and form-factor that you can buy and get in a few days at least. If they asked $115 instead of $100, then people would have paid that and it would be all over the world. With this “trial” software however no USA or EU wholesaler will ever stock these. I hope some rebranding company realizes this, and will sell them with legal (and WiMBoot configured) Windows Bing OS.

    1. “I hope some rebranding company realizes this, and will sell them with legal (and WiMBoot configured) Windows Bing OS.”

      I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s exactly what the Intel stick PC is all about.

    2. I found a place that lists it with the OS for $138. They have it without for $109. It is nice they offered the legitimate licence option, but it does add a good percent to the cost. Debating what to go with still, I like the idea of something that can run Windows and Android. Tempted to either get the Pipo X7, or wait to see what Cherry Trail devices start to show up for a bit more future proofing. Do any of these x86 devices support h.265 hardware decoding yet?

      Edit: Oh yeah, where I found it with the OS .

      Don’t know anything about them anyone have experiences with them yet?

  11. I take this to be a tax on novelty, because no one in their right mind, would buy this for the same price as a identically specked, 8″ IPS tablet.
    The only conceivable scenario, where I would pay tablet money for this thing, is if somehow my otherwise banal life, were to take a sudden “James Bond-esqe” turn, toward a very unfortunate set of circumstances, where I would find myself faced with having to rectally smuggle a fully functioning x86 computer, in to a different location, circumstances which would make retention of my rectal integrity, simply incompatible with the physical dimensions of a 8″ tablet, then, and only then, would I consider paying more than $50 for one of these.

    1. Tablets take up more space than these HDMI sticks. Most people who buy this are probably trying to use it as some sort of HTPC that they can discretely put in back of their TVs.

      1. Maybe, if you work in an office/cubicle/workstation kind of environment, under strict supervised conditions, I could, maybe, see this getting some use, as a “discrete” or “contraband” workplace PC, to KVM to your office work monitor and input devices, and possibly circumvent the office firewall, by plugging a 3G modem in it.

    2. i must not be in my right mind then, because i think this is perfect for my aging parents. An identical spec’d 8″ IPS tablet for the same money would not do for them. I was waiting for a quad A57 TV stick for a good price to buy for them to use as their main computer, but this is even better.

      1. What exactly is it, that a tablet would not do for them ?
        Sit on a table with a bunch of wires sticking out of it ?
        Prove itself useful, even in a blackout ?
        Allow itself to be used in multiple rooms or on trips ?
        Have a integrated webcam and microphone ? That’s the Ainol Inovo8 for $109.99
        In my opinion, the best value for money of any of the Windows-Atom offerings. Please argue why would that $39 Meego stick, with no Windows license, which sells for $110 to $275 with HANSPREE written on it, be the better choice for normal domestic use.

        1. anything that uses a dual monitor setup when hooked into an external monitor (which the Ainol seems to be able to do with a HDMI connector) will be a steep learning curve for them, with the extended desktops and stuff if they accidentally enable it. Just this point alone is worth forgoing the tablet version to save the hassle.

          For the other points you bring up, In a blackout, a tablet is useless for them, since they are just using it to surf the web, so without power, the DSL connection is down too. Multiple rooms or on trips are not an issue, since I did say my aging parents, and they dont have the eyesight to use a small screen (They currently use a 22″ monitor, with font to max on IE), so they wont be using the computer other than at the external monitor. Integrated webcam and microphone isn’t needed either, since they only have access to 2Mbps DSL with 384k upload, so webcam is out of the picture, and they call me on their landline too.

          i’m actually waiting for the Intel version, since even though the internals might be exactly the same, the fact that it’s backed by the Intel warranty means it’s less of a hassle if something breaks. Value for money needs to consider the hassle if there’s a problem, and for my specific case, the Intel Compute Stick looks to be the best value. If just looked at a hardware point of view, yes, I agree with you that the Ainol you linked is a better value.

    3. I’m sorry, how the hell is a puny 8″ tablet at all comparable to a fully functioning x86 HDMI dongle? It’d be a great way to browse the web/watch stuff on your HDTV, or when you’re traveling and can’t be bothered to take your laptop with you. Nothing “James Bond”-esque about this, it’s basically a more functional, less limited Chromecast.

      Oh…. but I guess according to you, a Chromecast is literally the same thing as a 8″ tablet.

    4. Andrei, with all due respect I disagree with you. I can clearly see at least one application for it that will go crazy: Marketing road warriors. Plug this into any conference room projector, Large screen office display (many offices now have 60″ LED displays) or even displays during trade shows.

      Sure – it is not significantly better than a good high-powered tablet. But it has one major difference: it is smaller and has no fragile glass display. Presentations with a tablet plugged into a projector or display are clumsy and amateur. Thanks to the TSA, laptops are a pain to travel with. Bring a mini wireless keyboard w/ touchpad… and this thing is ready to go – with an edge of professionalism. James Bond-esqe? I doubt it will ever become that glorious, and I’m certain it will remain a niche product.

      However, in addition to the market mentioned above, I can see this being a viable option for couch potatoes, hotel room bound business travelers and younger grandparents that want something far better than a “Smart TV”, and not quite as small as a tablet.

  12. Good Wifi? If so I would rather not have to pay the Microsoft tax just to install Linux on it or even Androidx86 so I am in for this one with 2GB ram over the official Intel one.

    1. So far the wifi hasn’t been a problem. In Windows, that is. I’ve heard of trouble with wifi in Linux, though. Unless it’s been recently solved…

    2. I rather pay Microsoft tax and know support and warranty matters are handled by the world’s biggest semiconductor company than “sticking it to the man” and having to deal with some guys no one ever heard about before, operating out of a Shenzhen garage to save a few bucks up front.

      1. that;s fine but that implies you don’t mind everyone paying teh MS tax. which i strongly object to

        1. It implies no such thing, but might require some context which i am happy to provide.

          birdog said he would take this with 2GB RAM over the official intel one.

          The “intel Compute Stick” is offered either:
          Win / 2GB RAM / 32GB eMMC
          Lin / 1GB RAM / 8GB eMMC

          So to get useful specs you need to buy the one with Windows if you go for an intel Model.

          1. sounds like a windows tax to me. i wouldn’t buy a 1GB version its absolutely not enough to reasonably run a web browser. Is there any way for these chinese vendors to drop chromeos on these for no cost or just a couple of dollars at most?

          2. Please explain how this is a Windows tax when the $50 extra version also includes an additional gig of ram and 16 gigs of storage? That alone would increase the price of a smartphone by $50, so the percent of the $50 that goes for Windows is virtually pocket change.

  13. “While Microsoft offers Windows 8.1 licenses free of charge to
    manufacturers of Windows tablets with 9 inch or smaller screens, the
    MeegoPad T01 and other tiny desktop computers don’t count… because
    they’re not tablets.”

    Isn’t a stick PC really a tablet with a 0 inch screen and a 0 mAh battery? 🙂

    1. Tablets are a mass market product Microsoft was more than late to the party for, and competing with “free” Android needs to happen at the same price point for small(er) manufacturers to consider preloading Windows. Compute sticks are too niche for the need to get market share at all cost.

  14. I guess the Intel Compute Stick is the way to go then, depending on street price. $149 retail probably will end up being $135 street, which is a good deal to get a licensed copy of windows 8 AND the Intel warranty.

  15. It will be just fine. They sold so many units they cant keep their suppliers in stock.
    DealExtreme is always out. Who knows when you can get one to review.

  16. Capitalism begets Anarchism and abolition of private property.

  17. Even with the licensing issue, its an interesting little piece of hardware. Might even end up being a popular computing platform (clones are popping up already: … If licensed and marketed properly, it really does become the “mobile computing experience” that countless other devices claim to be. Its a native x86 / Windows computer, offering the kind of experience that the mass market is used to.

  18. Couldn’t even be bothered to get on board all legitimate like.
    Way to go, PRC.
    Way to go.

    1. If it really sells for $100, my guess would be no. But it’s not actually on sale yet, so it’s tough to know for certain.

    1. At least the companies aren’t selling pirated versions of Windows. At least it was pretty common in China with Windows XP.

    1. Probably, though I suspect Microsoft doesn’t allow companies to ship trial versions of Windows without signing some kind of contract first.

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