Project Volterra, Microsoft's Arm system for developers, is now Windows Dev Kit 2023
Redmond's latest effort in the Arm ecosystem comes full of ports and RAMBy Alfonso Maruccia
TL;DR: The Windows Dev Kit 2023 is a new Mac Mini-like mini PC aimed at developers who code Windows on Arm applications. Decent specs and a lot of RAM should please app developers while Microsoft is pursuing its world conquest through AI and cloud VMs.
After previewing the system at the Build conference in May, Microsoft is now introducing a new device designed for Arm development: Project Volterra has been officially released as the Windows Dev Kit 2023, a compact PC that contains - according to Microsoft - everything developers need to create apps for the Arm edition of Windows.
Windows Dev Kit 2023 has been "purpose-built" to help developers create Windows apps for Arm, says Microsoft. The device is based on Qualcomm's Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 SoC (or "Compute Platform" as the latest digerati jargon goes), and it is equipped with 32GB of RAM and 512GB of "fast" NVMe storage.
Connectivity includes support for up to three external displays, using the two USB-C ports and mini-DisplayPort port available; two of those displays can have a 4K resolution with a 60Hz refresh rate. Additional connections include three standard USB-A ports, a gigabit Ethernet port, Wi-Fi 6, and Bluetooth 5.1.
The Windows Dev Kit is available for purchase in 8 countries (Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, United Kingdom, United States) for $600.
Microsoft is working to bring a fully featured Arm-native toolchain to its officially-sanctioned device, releasing previews of IDE systems (Visual Studio 2022 17.4), tools, runtimes (Windows App SDK with native Arm support), libraries (VC++ runtime) and toolchains (.NET 7), while .NET Framework 4.8.1, Cloud services (Azure VM) and Arm64EC are available right now. The Windows Dev Kit 2023 also includes support for Qualcomm's Neural Processing SDK.
The Redmond corporation says that the Arm native version of Visual Studio 2022 17.4 brings "dramatic" performance improvements for app development, while .NET 7 closes the gap between the x64 and the Arm64 instruction sets, delivering functional parity and improved performance.
Microsoft says that Windows Dev Kit 2023 represents "another step in creating a new developer platform" to build high-ambition cloud-native AI applications" and to "enable seamless AI inferencing across cloud and client through our emerging model of hybrid compute and AI with NPU enabled devices." Incomprehensible corporate jargon aside, the new kit should at least offer enough power and capabilities for creating apps without the pain of cheap Windows Arm mini-PCs released before.