Up until now, Microsoft hasn’t provided an easy way for developers to work with Windows 10 on ARM, a problem that has led to terrible app support on the fledgling operating system. But a new and affordable Qualcomm Snapdragon Developer Kit could turn the tides for Windows 10 on ARM, opening the door to more apps and better x64 emulation.
Microsoft and Qualcomm collaborated on the Snapdragon Developer Kit, which goes on sale this summer. While we don’t know how much the kit costs or what processor it uses, Qualcomm describes it as an “affordable alternative to other consumer and commercial devices.”
Knowing that, there’s a decent chance that the dev kit runs on the entry-level Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 chip. And while “affordable” can mean a lot of things in the world of computers, the Snapdragon Development Kit almost certainly costs less than the $999 Surface Pro X, which is currently the best device for testing ARM64 apps in Windows 10 on ARM.
Even if the Snapdragon Developer Kit fails to single-handedly solve Windows 10 on ARM’s app compatibility problem, at least it shows that Microsoft is trying to catch up with Apple. The new ARM-based M1 Macs, which came out just half a year ago, already support a ton of apps natively and offer seamless x86 emulation. Apple clearly knows how to motivate developers, as it managed to get native Photoshop for ARM Macs in less than a year—a feat that Microsoft still hasn’t reached with its ARM-based OS.
The Qualcomm Snapdragon Developer Kit will go on sale at the Windows Store this summer. Pricing and availability are still a mystery, and Qualcomm still hasn’t announced which chip will power the device.