There are now plenty of affordable ARM based Android and Linux development board which you can use to develop apps that access hardware drivers, and a few Intel based ones have also started to pop-up such as Galileo and Minnowboard MAX. The problem, for Microsoft, is that none of them currently support Windows. You could always use a PC to develop Windows apps, but this may become a problem once you start dealing with embedded devices and want to access undiscoverable buses such as GPIOs, serial interfaces and so on, as PCs are also protected by secure boot which limits developing and testing third-party drivers. So Microsoft has decided to join the affordable development boards bandwagon, starting with Intel Shark Cove development board for Windows developers.
There are very few technical details about the board, but we do know it will based on an Intel Atom processor, and provide access to GPIOs, I2C, I2S, UART, SDIO and USB.
Microsoft highlighted 5 key features of their upcoming development boards:
- Affordable, easy to purchase over the Internet, and without any need for licensing, quotes or purchase orders.
- Ability for developers to download a copy of Windows OS from MSDN.
- Visual Studio support and Windows Development Kit (WDK) tools for developing drivers. Available free from MSDN.
- Ability to test and certify drivers and devices against the developer’s tests and Microsoft device tests.
- Ports for attaching common PC peripherals, including HDMI, USB, I2C, GPIO, UART and SDIO.
Intel Shark Cove (pictured above) does not exactly looks cheap, so I’m assuming Microsoft may sponsor it to keep it at a reasonable price (below $200?).
You can visit http://www.msdn.microsoft.com/hardwaredevboard to find out more about Microsoft’s development boards initiative.
Jean-Luc started CNX Software in 2010 as a part-time endeavor, before quitting his job as a software engineering manager, and starting to write daily news, and reviews full time later in 2011.