Microsoft Announces Windows 11 on ARM Developer Kit with Qualcomm Snapdragon SoC. Microsoft’s first “desktop” PC arrives in the form of an ARM devkit. While we expected to learn the release date, along with the feature set, for the much-anticipated Windows 11 22H2 update, Microsoft seems to be looking forward to the future with a Windows for ARM announcement. Apcsilmic Dot 1 Mini Is A Compact Windows On ARM Desktop For $229 In The US.
Microsoft has announced new hardware at Build 2022! Given that Build is a developer conference, it should come as no surprise to hear that the hardware being announced today is a developer kit designed to help devs to build apps that take advantage of new AI capabilities via an onboard neural processing unit (NPU,) as well as add support for Windows 11 on ARM.
What you need to know about the Windows 11 ARM Developer Kit with Qualcomm Snapdragon SoC:
- Microsoft has unveiled its first Windows on ARM devkit.
- It’s powered by a Snapdragon SoC and will be coming later this year.
- It features a built-in NPU and is similar in shape and size to a Mac mini.
The developer kit is called “Project Volterra,” and is powered by an as-yet-unnamed Snapdragon processor. The device is a mini-desktop PC, similar in shape and size to that of a Mac mini or the base of a Surface Studio, just without the display attached. This developer kit is also Microsoft’s first “desktop” PC, though it doesn’t plan to sell the device as a consumer product.
Update on the Microsoft Windows 11 on ARM Devkit
Project Volterra, as explained by Microsoft, is designed to give developers the hardware and software platform to build apps for Windows on ARM. This mini desktop PC is powered by the Snapdragon compute platform. Microsoft has not shared many details about its specs, but it is said to have an announced Snapdragon chipset under the hood. As for the design, the developer kit (pictured in the header image) resembles the Mac Mini in shape and size. Qualcomm Announces Snapdragon 7 Gen 1 – Specifications And Features.
More details will be shared over the next few months. But, Microsoft does reveal that the Neural Processing Unit (NPU) baked into ARM processors will enable developers to “explore many AI scenarios”. The company plans to make it easier for developers to leverage the AI capabilities enabled by the ARM processors by “baking support for NPUs into the end-to-end Windows platform,” as per the official blog post.
That’s not all, though. Microsoft has also announced an ARM-native developer toolchain, so developers can natively build and test their apps on ARM-enabled Windows machines. For this, Microsoft apps like Visual Studio 2022, VS Code, Windows Terminal, the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL), and the Windows Subsystem for Android (WSA) will soon run natively on ARM-based Windows PCs.
Furthermore, Qualcomm also has a part to play in this development. It has released a “Qualcomm Neural Processing SDK for Windows toolkit” to support the vision of app developers. The cross-platform app development beyond CPUs, powered by the NPU and cloud services has been termed the “Hybrid Loop” by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella at the Build 2022 event.
Finally, if you are looking to get your hands on Project Volterra, there’s bad news for you. We currently don’t know anything about its cost, release date, or other information important to app developers. So stay tuned, as we will share more details about Project Volterra as and when they are available.
What is the Arm-native tool chain?
Additionally, Qualcomm has announced a new Qualcomm Neural Processing SDK for Windows toolkit, which will help developers explore AI scenarios in their apps. Microsoft is committed to baking support for NPUs into the end-to-end Windows platform, too.
For Windows on ARM specifically, Microsoft has announced that its end-to-end software developer kit will be Arm native, with some of the tools launching in preview soon. The Arm-native tool chain consists of:
- Visual Studio 2022
- Visual Studio Code
- Visual C++
- Modern .NET 6 and Java
- Classic .NET Framework
- Windows Terminal
- Windows Subsystem for Linux
- Windows Subsystem for Android
Microsoft is also affirming its commitment to an “open hardware ecosystem” for Windows, which sees Microsoft evolving the platform to support new hardware platforms and technologies, such as “GPUs that render an app’s user experiences, Wi-Fi and cellular chipsets that ensure devices are always connected, and CPUs including MIPS, x86, Alpha, Itanium, and x64.”
The launch of a new Windows on ARM developer kit built by Microsoft reaffirms its commitment to the platform. Microsoft is all-in on Windows on ARM and wants it to become just another option for Windows customers looking for their next PC. With new Snapdragon chips getting better every year, we might almost be there.
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