Microsoft is launching its own version of the Mac Mini today with a $599 PC that’s designed for developers to build native Arm apps for Windows 11. Known previously as Project Volterra, the Windows Dev Kit 2023 (what a name) will be available today in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the US. Developers will be able to purchase the device, but really anyone wanting a miniature Windows on Arm machine can buy one, too.
The Windows Dev Kit 2023 is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 platform with 32GB of RAM and 512GB of NVMe storage. There are also two USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 ports at the side and three USB-A 3.2 Gen 2 ports at the rear, alongside an Ethernet port and Mini DisplayPort.
There’s also a neural processing unit (NPU) on this device, much like the 5G Surface Pro 9, which will enable developers to run hardware-accelerated AI tasks and machine learning workloads. Microsoft has started to leverage NPUs in Windows 11 to power features like Voice Focus, an impressive background noise removal algorithm that doesn’t hit your CPU or GPU.
The software side will be the most important part of this Windows Dev Kit 2023. Microsoft is working to launch a full toolchain of Arm native apps for developers to use. Visual Studio 2022 17.4 now runs natively on Arm with far better performance, and .NET 7 will include improved performance for Arm. Previews for Arm versions of Visual C++ and the Windows App SDK are also available.
“More apps, tools, frameworks, and packages are being ported to natively target Windows on Arm and will be arriving over the coming months,” explains Pavan Davuluri, CVP, Windows Silicon & System Integration. “In the meantime, thanks to Windows 11’s powerful emulation technology, developers will be able to run many unmodified x64 and x86 apps and tools on their Windows Dev Kit.”
This Windows Dev Kit will also have access to native Arm versions of Microsoft Teams, Office, Edge, and OneDrive sync. Microsoft hopes this device will encourage Windows on Arm app development, so we can finally see more apps run natively on Arm-powered laptops.