Microsoft’s developer conference, Build 2022, is happening this week, and amid the many announcements, there was something very Apple-esque. If you weren’t paying close attention, you might have thought that Microsoft had released its own Mac.
It’s called Project Volterra and it involves a new Windows for Arm developer kit in a PC that looks a lot like an M1 Mac mini. It’s a square metal mini desktop PC dressed in space gray that appears to be the same size and shape as Apple’s smallest Mac (although it’s made from recycled ocean plastic instead of aluminum). The specifications for the devkit – which are used by software developers to take advantage of new features – have not been released, but it does not contain an Intel chip. Instead, it runs a Qualcomm Snapdragon system on an Arm-based chip.
If that sounds familiar, it’s because it is: Apple’s own M1 processors are also based on Arm. Microsoft’s Panos Panay said in a blog post, “With native Arm64 Visual Studio, .NET support, and Project Volterra coming later this year, we’re releasing new tools to help you take the first step on this journey.”
If that sounds familiar, it’s because it is: When Apple announced its move to its proprietary silicon two years ago, the company released a Developer Transition Kit (DTK), featuring a Mac mini equipped with an A12Z system on a chip. , the same processor that was in the iPad Pro of 2020. Developers had to make a $500 deposit on the DTK, and when the M1 Macs hit the market, Apple required developers to return the DTK and gave them a $200 credit for a purchase of an M1 Mac.
Microsoft has made Windows for Arm available with version 10, and it’s primarily for Microsoft Surface devices. The release of the devkit along with the release of Windows 11 for Arm a few months ago show that Microsoft still stands behind its Arm products. But it aims to speed things up in the remaining months of 2022.
When Apple released its M1 Macs, it also discontinued support for Boot Camp, the ability to boot a Mac into Windows or macOS. While it is possible to run Windows for Arm on an M1 Mac, it is not officially supported by Microsoft, and there seems to be no indication by the company that it will change its mind.
Details on how to get the devkit from Microsoft – which will presumably only be available to developers and not the general public – and a preview of the devkit tools will appear “in the coming weeks.”