In an attempt to get more developers to build software for Windows 10 on Arm, Qualcomm is debuting a Snapdragon Developer Kit. The company announced the small desktop PC today ahead of Microsoft's Build developer conference.
The new system was built "in collaboration with Microsoft" and will run Windows 10. While Qualcomm refers to the system as "cost-effective," it hasn't listed a price for the system, which will run on the Snapdragon 7c platform. It will be available for purchase in the Microsoft Store sometime this summer, and is part of an effort to have developers port software to native ARM64.
Qualcomm told members of the press that developers won't need to return the system, an apparent dig at Apple's Developer Transition Kits for the M1 processor, which needed to go back to the company.
The Snapdragon developer kit resembles an Intel NUC or Apple's Mac Mini, in that it's a small, low-profile desktop. Thus far, every Windows on Arm device has been a laptop, as one of Arm's benefits is long battery life. Miguel Nunes, senior director of product management at Qualcomm said in a statement that the "developer kit provides an affordable alternative to other consumer and commercial devices. With the smaller desktop configuration, this kit gives developers more flexibility than notebook options, and at a lower price point."
Qualcomm's kit has a large power button on top and a sparse selection of ports, including USB Type-A and an SD card slot on the side.
In December, Microsoft started adding x64 emulation to Windows on Arm Insider Builds. But the developer kit is an attempt to kickstart more Arm-native apps. Today, Zoom is announcing an optimized version of its video conference app, which is coming this summer.
There are a number of existing native Arm apps for Windows 10, including VLC, Twitter, Firefox, Edge, Microsoft Office, Netflix, Twitter, Skype and Windows 10. But the number that will be able to be emulated when x64 hits mainstream Windows will increase significantly. Still, native apps will perform even faster.
Without information liek price and full specs, it's hard to even surmise what kind of effect this will have with the developer community. Qualcomm is teasing that more information will be shared at a Build session entitled “What’s new for Windows desktop application developers."
Qualcomm also announced its Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 system on a chip today for entry-level Windows PCs and Chromebooks. The company was light on details, but promised laptops using it will start at $349 and offer multi-day battery life depending on use.