Microsoft’s Windows on ARM developer kit is out now

Microsoft has released its Windows Dev Kit 2023 (formerly known as Project Volterra) on general sale.

The device promises a compact all-in-one workstation for natively building, running and testing Windows apps, and faster artificial intelligence and machine learning workloads, owing to the new Neural Processing Unit (NPU).

It’s powered by Snapdragon’s 8cx Gen 3 Compute Platform in tandem with Qualcomm’s Neural Processing SDK, ensuring maximum performance and bringing Microsoft one step closer to making hybrid compute and AI workflows the norm.

Arm-native apps

The announcement follows its initial tease at Microsoft Build 2022, where the company outlined its vision for the new development kit, as well an Arm-native toolchain to keep application development local to a single device.

It’s delivered there, too. Previews of arm-native versions of Visual Studio 2022, the Windows App software development kit (SDK), and the VC++ Runtime are available now, while the .NET Framework 4.8.1 for Arm has been released with Windows 11’s 2022 update.

In addition, the .NET 7 toolchain, which claims to offer functional parity for ARM against x64 architecture, is now also available in preview, while Microsoft’s Azure virtual machines (VMs) and Arm64EC are publicly available now, ensuring that development and app testing are now seamless.

Arm64EC offers a way to integrate native Arm code with x64 code as part of the same process. One potential use-case for this might be to gradually transition x64 apps to Arm architecture, rather than invest time in developing solely for one platform.

Visual Studio 2022 on Arm, which has been in monthly previews since July, now supports Desktop workloads, Windows SDK and Windows App SDK components (Win UI), and Web,  Universal Windows Platform (UWP), Node.js and game development workloads.

Coinciding with the hardware launch, Microsoft’s collaboration tools are now also available on Arm, including Microsoft Teams, Microsoft 365, the web browser Microsoft Edge, Microsoft Defender for Endpoint (MDE) and Microsoft OneDrive.

And just to make sure users never feel the need to step away from their dev kits, several creativity, video conferencing, security, and benchmarking solutions have all been ported to Arm devices. There are a lot of names here, like Adobe, Zoom, Sophos, Cisco, PassMark – and Microsoft claim even more are on the way.

The hardware itself is exciting, too. As well as what was mentioned above, the device sports 32 GB LPDDR4x RAM and a 512 GB NVMe SSD fast storage, plus three USB-A, two USB-C port, and a Mini Display port for maximum device compatibility.

We’re certainly impressed on paper, and will be looking forward to any new developments that come out on October 26’s virtual Arm Dev Summit

For now, the Windows Dev Kit 2023 is available now for purchase in the US, UK, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, and China.

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