At its Build 2022 conference just a few weeks ago, Microsoft announced Project Volterra, an ARM64 device built on the Snapdragon compute platform that would make it easier for developers to build and test ARM-native apps. The idea behind this initiative is to enable developers to work in an "open hardware ecosystem" using their favorite tools and programming languages including Visual Studio 2022, modern .NET 6, classic .NET Framework, WSL, WSA, Windows Terminal, C++, Java, Python, Node JS, Git, and more.
Today, Microsoft has taken a significant step in this direction with the release of the first native ARM64 version of Visual Studio, on Windows 11 only.
This build is available via Visual Studio 2022 17.3 Preview 2 and supports the following workloads:
- Desktop development with C++ (for MSBuild-based projects)
- .NET desktop development (WinForms, WPF) using both .NET Framework, and modern .NET.
- NET and Web development
Microsoft has noted that the aforementioned workloads are in preview for now but should hit general availability (GA) by the end of this calendar year.
Starting off with native developers using the Microsoft Visual C++ (MSVC) toolset, the compiler will run natively rather than through emulation. Microsoft has noted that many C++ libraries, including Vcpkg, already natively support ARM64.
For managed developers, Microsoft has highlighted that .NET 6 has natively supported ARM64 since launch and this release works on extending support to the .NET Framework in the form of .NET Framework 4.8.1 runtime and SDK. It is important to note that .NET Framework 4.8.1 will be available by default with Windows 11 version 22H2 launching later this year and will be rolled out to previous operating systems sometime in the future too. This preview supports Windows Forms, WPF, and Web apps but there are plans to expand it to cover Windows App SDK, .NET MAUI, and Universal Windows Platform (UWP) too.
You can download Visual Studio 2022 17.3 Preview 2 from Microsoft's portal here. Installations will be handled through a single installer which will automatically download the appropriate version of the IDE for you depending upon your system architecture. That said, if you want to try out the ARM64 variant, make sure you are running Windows 11 on the hardware and have uninstalled any previous versions of Visual Studio.