Microsoft has released a single board computer aimed at hardware and software development for Windows, which ships with a Windows 8.1 image included.
Available for pre-order now, the Sharks Cove development board is based on a quad-core Intel Atom processor with 1GB of memory and 16GB eMMC flash storage.
The 4x6in board, which was first shown at Microsoft's Build conference in April, is the product of a collaborative effort between Microsoft, Intel and the manufacturer, CircuitCo. It is designed to facilitate development of software and drivers for mobile devices that run Windows, such as phones, tablets and similar system-on-a-chip (SoC) platforms, Microsoft said.
With a UK price of £192.99, the board is expected to appeal to hardware enthusiasts as well as being used by hardware vendors to develop drivers, devices and other products. The price includes a Windows 8.1 image and the utilities necessary to apply it to the Sharks Cove board.
Writing on the Windows Hardware and Driver Developer Blog, Microsoft developer Michael Fourre said that the announcement marks a major milestone in the firm's work.
"When you additionally consider that the Windows Driver Kit 8.1 can pair with Visual Studio Express and are both free with a valid MSDN [Microsoft Developer Network] account, the initial outlay for Windows driver developers is a lot less cost prohibitive than it once was."
"We are looking forward to seeing the amazing things that can be done with these boards!" he said.
A dedicated SharksCove.org website has been set up for users to find specifications, links to other content and the MSDN forums, and a link to pre-order the board itself.
Interestingly, the site itself describes the hardware as "the Intel Sharks Cove board" and states that it can be used to develop hardware and drivers for both Windows and Android.
The Sharks Cove board joins a number of single-board systems aimed at both enthusiasts and hardware vendors, and is liable to draw comparisons with devices such as the Arduino and the low-cost Raspberry Pi, the latest version of which was released this month.
Although the Sharks Cove costs more than these, it is also much more capable, with a quad-core x86 processor and more comprehensive selection of I/O available, including serial port (UART), I2C, I2S, USB, and MIPI for display and camera, as well as general purpose I/O connections (GPIO).
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