Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) wants to take Windows 8.1 to new heights. The personal computer operating system giant recently teamed up with Intel and hardware maker called Circuit Co. The three companies collaborated to create SharksCove, a development board that can be used to create drivers and hardware.

Windows 8.1
Windows 8.1

Windows 8.1 – Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) Development board specs and features

This development board features an Intel Atom Z3735G processor which is a quad-core chip. It boasts speeds of 1.33GHz to 1.83GHz. It also includes 1GB of RAM, a MicroSD slot, and 16GB of flash storage.

Microsoft announced the new project just last weekend in the blog post. The hardware development board was made to speed software and driver development for mobile devices running Windows. The development board is rumored to costs $299, which covers the costs of the hardware. It’s also includes Windows 8.1 image which works with Visual Studio Express. Microsoft users can get both for free with an MSDN account.

According to the official Sharks Cove site offers support for devices and drivers of many different interfaces including I2C, GPIO, 12S, UART, USB, SDIO, and MIPI. Shark Cove is significantly more expensive at $300/£176 than non-Windows alternatives such as Raspberry Pi (which is ARM-based), BeagleBone Black, and MinnowBoard. CircuitCo actually makes both the latter products.

Windows 8.1 – Smart covers coming to Windows Phone

Microsoft is also preparing for the Windows 8.1 update by allowing third-party accessory designers to sell smartphone covers that reveal select information when closed. Samsung, LG, and HTC already offer similar covers for Android. These smart covers could make it easy for Windows to launch Android versions. Since the Windows Phone now supports on-screen buttons, phone makers can easily trade operating systems without modifying hardware. It is reported HTC will make the change with HTC One. Windows Phone may also support screen sizes up to 7 inches with a resolution of 1280 x 768. It’s also important to note that Android is the only tech company in the phablet department.