Qualcomm has partnered with Microsoft to create a Snapdragon-based developer kit that aims to boost the testing and development of Windows 10 on ARM applications. The dev kit looks like a mini-PC with a paltry port selection and will be available from the Microsoft Store this summer.
Finally, a Windows 10 on ARM test platform that won't cost developers a thousand dollars
“Built in collaboration with Microsoft, this Windows 10 on Arm-based developer kit is a cost-effective resource for developers to verify and validate their solutions to help ensure great user experiences for working, learning, and collaborating on Snapdragon-enabled Windows 10 PCs,” says Qualcomm.
Officially called the Qualcomm Snapdragon Developer Kit, the machine is a first-of-its-kind product targeted at the Windows 10 on ARM development ecosystem. However, it’s not a novel idea. Reference hardware for smartphone chips is nothing new for Qualcomm, and even Apple does the same for its ecosystem.
Last year, Apple unveiled a Developer Transition Kit – essentially a Mac mini enclosure powered by the A12Z Bionic chip – to make it easier for developers to transition their apps from Intel’s x86 design to ARM architecture. However, Qualcomm has not yet revealed details about the innards of its Snapdragon-powered developer kit.
The company touts the developer kit as an affordable solution for Windows 10 on ARM development, which suggests that we won’t see a high-end Snapdragon 8cx series chip inside it. It is quite likely that the kit comes equipped with the freshly announced Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 platform for mid-range always-on connected PCs.
We don’t have any official information regarding the price, but we expect it to be lower than mainstream Snapdragon-powered laptops. So far, developers had to rely on expensive Windows on ARM machines such as the Surface Pro X, which is not the most cost-effective test hardware for developers, especially for those who work independently or are part of a cash-strapped startup.
With the arrival of a dev kit that doesn’t cost a thousand dollars, developers can now focus on ‘recompiling, optimizing, and testing applications for Windows 10 devices powered by Snapdragon compute platforms’ without having to worry about incinerating their wallets. The Qualcomm Snapdragon Developer Kit also arrives just in time as Microsoft preps to bring x64 app emulation out of beta, solving the biggest problem faced by Windows 10 on ARM – the availability of compatible 64-bit apps.