Windows 10 devices powered by ARM chipsets have been around for a few years at this point, but if you're a developer making apps for ARM-based Windows 10 PCs, it can be expensive to test them due to the price of most of those devices. To address that, Qualcomm today announced the Snapdragon Developer Kit, an ARM-based PC reference design meant for testing Windows 10 apps.
Unlike most Windows 10 ARM PCs available right now, the Snapdragon Developer Kit is a desktop, so it doesn't have a display or anything that significantly adds to the cost. It's just a small PC you can use with your existing monitor, which makes it more affordable for developers to test their apps on ARM devices. It's powered by the new Snapdragon 7c Gen2 compute platform, which is one of the most affordable ARM chipset that can run Windows 10 right now. Again, this helps with the cost for developers, but it could also help ensure that apps are optimized even for lower-performance devices.
Hari Pulapaka, Windows Partner Group Program Manager at Microsoft, said:
“We understand the importance of having a reliable development vehicle for developers to test their applications, which is why we have collaborated with Qualcomm Technologies for the Snapdragon Developer Kit. We look forward to seeing how developers take full advantage of the Snapdragon Developer Kit for their Windows 10 on Arm development needs.”
Microsoft added Windows 10 ARM PCs to the App Assure Program for businesses in September of last year, so this is a continuation of that support to help ensure that apps work properly on these kinds of devices. It's also been possible for Windows Insiders to emulate x64 apps on ARM devices since December, but that isn't widely available yet, so this can help developers develop natively for ARM instead.
Still, it's curious that something like this is only being introduced now, three and a half years after the first Windows on ARM PCs were introduced. When Apple announced its transition to ARM devices, the developer kit was announced before any consumer devices. Of course, Apple is trying to switch all of its devices to ARM, while Windows ARM devices are only a subset of the ecosystem.
The Snapdragon Developer Kit is going to be released this summer, but a more concrete date and pricing information weren't given. We'll hear more about the kit at Microsoft's Build event taking place later this week, specifically during a session called “What’s new for Windows desktop application developers”.