Not sure what Intel thinks here, but will give a few thoughts.
1) Yes you can download simple Arduino programs to a mini-breakout board. You can probably out of the box be able to do things like, output to a few of the serial ports: Serial, Serial1, maybe Serial2. You can probably do some things with USB... But the IO pins will not work properly, likewise SPI, I2C... All have issues with them as the Init sequences and the like are different.
I have the beginnings of a version that creates a new board type (tools menu), which I named Intel Edison Breakout board, which defines in the Arduino variants a new set of pin definitions and the like that match the same pin numbers as used by MRAA. So far I had some simple GPIIO stuff working with the IO pins, I had some SPI working, I was doing some I2C when my first of the these boards started to fail... I was then going to go back and finish up some stuff with GPIO. In particular I am not sure how much of the Pull up support I had in place...
I believe I posted a zip file in some thread. I was doing some work in the thread: Using Arduino IDE with Edison breakout board?
But I don't believe it is in that thread. If you are interested in playing some with it, I can either post the changes again or I may put them up in one of my Github projects.