Among the announcements made at Microsoft’s Build developer conference yesterday was a new service for organizations that want to offer preconfigured, virtualized developer workstations on demand. Microsoft Dev Box is intended to simplify the process of getting new developer workstations up and running quickly, with all necessary tools and dependencies installed and working out-of-the-box (so to speak), along with access to up-to-date source code and fresh copies of any nightly builds.
Dev Box is built on Windows 365, a service that IT admins can use to provide preconfigured virtual PCs to users. Admins can build operating system images and offer hardware configurations with different amounts of CPU power, storage, and RAM based on what particular users (or workloads) need. Windows 365 virtual machines, including but not limited to Dev Box VMs, can be accessed from other Windows PCs, or devices running macOS, iOS, Android, Linux, or ChromeOS.
Virtualized development environments could offer many benefits to developers and testers beyond the ability to access a preconfigured dev box from anywhere. If you install software or make a change that breaks your development environment, you could easily roll back to a known-working version. Your administrator could offer different environments for different apps to prevent software conflicts or offer multiple environments for different versions of your app so you could easily maintain, test, and provide support for multiple versions at a time.
“Microsoft Dev Box supports any developer IDE, SDK, or internal tool that runs on Windows,” writes Microsoft product manager Anthony Cangialosi. “Dev Boxes can target any development workload you can build from a Windows desktop and are particularly well-suited for desktop, mobile, IoT, and gaming. You can even build cross-platform apps using Windows Subsystem for Linux.”
Dev Box is currently available in a private preview. If you’re interested in testing it when the preview goes public, you can sign up to learn more here.