Microsoft made good on its May 2022 promise to give developers an inexpensive piece of Arm-powered hardware on which to run AI-accelerated workloads for Windows, unveiling the Windows Dev Kit 2023 and selling it for $599.
The box contains 32GB of RAM and 512GB of fast storage, in addition to Wi-Fi 6, an RJ-45 slot, three USB-A sockets, a pair of USB-C ports, and a Mini DisplayPort to round things off.
More importantly, there’s also a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 Computing Platform inside, which includes the chip designer’s Neural Processing SDK (NPU).
That SDK is important because Microsoft believes that the CPU and its accompanying NPUs can beat the CPU and GPU combo when it comes to running AI workloads.
Microsoft therefore stated “Windows Dev Kit 2023 enables developers to build apps that unlock the power of the NPU hardware to accelerate AI/ML workloads by delivering AI-enhanced features and experiences without compromising an application.”
But the box isn’t just about AI. As Microsoft’s announcement poster states, it means “developers will be able to bring their entire application development process onto one compact device, giving them everything they need to build Windows apps for Arm, on Arm.”
One of the canned quotes Microsoft included in the announcement came from Niyas Sait, technical lead for the Windows on Arm Project at Linaro. He said the box “runs incredibly faster than the previous Arm-based Windows machine we used with our LLVM and MySQL workload.”
Does this seem like an admission that the Arm-powered PCs on the market today offer lackluster performance, which has led developers to a faster x86 price, even if it means more work to ship apps? You decide, dear reader.
Microsoft’s announcement underscores that the software giant has taken great strides to make its development environments as mature on Arm-enabled hardware as it is already the case on x86 tin, with initiatives such as native Arm64 support in the .NET Framework since version 4.8. 1
Other tools to make the Arm struggle easier are also on the way: Visual Studio 2022 17.4, Windows App SDK with native Arm support and VC++ Runtime are all in the works.
.NET 7 for Arm is also coming soon.
“With .NET 7 we made several improvements for Arm in the areas of functional parity and performance,” wrote Microsofties Pavan Davuluri and Kevin Gallo. “.NET 6 had some features that worked on x64 but not Arm64, with .NET 7, and we’re happy to have closed this gap for our developers by adding support for ASP.NET Core Module (ANCM) so ASP.NET Core applications can use IIS on Arm64 in addition to a Kestrel server.”
If all of this excites you enough to buy the box, you can do so here – as long as you can pick it up in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, the UK or the US. ®