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Microsoft will boost Windows on Arm with a new dev kit and Arm-native Visual Studio

Microsoft's Project Volterra is an Arm-powered developer desktop launching later this year. This image depicts two Volterra boxes stacked on top of one another.

Enlarge / Microsoft’s Project Volterra is an Arm-powered developer desktop launching later this year. This image depicts two Volterra boxes stacked on top of one another. (credit: Microsoft)

Windows on Arm is arguably as successful as it has ever been—you can buy multiple Arm-powered Windows laptops and tablets, and those devices can run nearly the entire range of available Windows apps thanks to x86-to-Arm code translation. That said, Windows on Arm still accounts for just a fraction of the entire Windows ecosystem, and native Arm apps for the platform are still relatively rare.

At its Build developer conference today, Microsoft made a few announcements aimed at bolstering Windows on Arm. The first is Project Volterra, a Microsoft-branded mini-desktop computer powered by an unnamed Qualcomm Snapdragon SoC. More relevant for developers who already have Arm hardware, Volterra will be accompanied by a fully Arm-native suite of developer tools.

According to Microsoft’s blog post, the company will be releasing ARM-native versions of Visual Studio 2022 and VSCode, Visual C++, Modern .NET 6, the classic .NET framework, Windows Terminal, and both the Windows Subsystem for Linux and Windows Subsystem for Android. Arm-native versions of these apps will allow developers to run them without the performance penalty associated with translating x86 code to run on Arm devices—especially helpful given that Arm Windows devices usually don’t have much performance to spare.

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