Microsoft Dev Box: Try Cloud-powered Workstations

Microsoft is now permitting developers to access a preview version of its Microsoft Dev Box cloud-powered workstations. The software colossus announced Microsoft Dev Box before this year.

It’s effectively an easy way for a developer to spin up powerful cloud PCs for testing applications.

Dev Box includes apps and services designed specifically for developers to access preconfigured workstations quickly. In addition, developers get an early preview of Microsoft’s dev boxes.

Windows 365 helps manage Microsoft Dev Box, and developers can now preview quickly accessing these Azure Virtual Desktop machines anywhere from a modern browser. In addition, Microsoft Dev Box machines will support any software development kit (SDK), integrated development environment (IDE), or tools that run on top of Windows.

Developers can preview a Microsoft Dev Box with eight virtual CPUs and 32GB of RAM. Businesses can try out the first 15 hours of free CPU and memory usage per month, alongside the first 365 hours of a 512GB storage SKU. Final pricing will mean developers and businesses only pay for what they use on a consumption-based model. After that, Microsoft plans to charge organizations per hour for computing and storage.

Microsoft Dev Box will support machines with up to 32 virtual CPUs and 128GB of RAM. Developers can deploy dev boxes in their local Azure region, and each device is equipped with gigabit connection speeds. Microsoft has also created a portal for developers to organize dev boxes, which makes it ideal for managing legacy apps or older versions of apps for specific customers.

Microsoft Dev Box is a unique cloud service that provides developers with secure, ready-to-code creator workstations for hybrid teams of any size. With the new service, the business aims to make life more comfortable for developers to fast access preconfigured surroundings with all the tools and resources to compose code.

With Microsoft Dev Box, development crews can create and maintain Dev Box images with all the developers’ tools and dependencies to create and run their applications. Moreover, development teams can possess their application source code and nightly built binaries, allowing developers to start driving and understanding the code without waiting for long re-builds.

Developers control their dev boxes by delivering a developer portal where they can build dev boxes for a proof-of-concept or manage already made packages. In addition, they can support their projects distinct or even parallelize assignments across multiple Dev Boxes to bypass bogging down their immediate environment.

Microsoft Dev Box sustains any developer Integrated Development Environment (IDE), SDK, or internal tool that drives on Windows. Furthermore, according to the business, the Dev boxes can target any growth workload a developer can create from a Windows desktop and are particularly well-suited for desktop, mobile, IoT, and gaming. A developer can also build cross-platform apps employing Windows Subsystem for Linux.

Suppose you’re creating for the Windows desktop, gaming consoles, embedded, mobile, and developer tools like Visual Studio/VSCode. In that case, you may interact with additional UI client apps in your development that serve beyond the command line (e.g., Unreal Engine Editor, mBed pin config tools, etc.). For those scenarios, DevBox is a more reasonable offering.

We use CLion instead of VSCode as VSCode is a lousy clickfest in terms of UX for severe C++ development. The dependency chain also counts 100GB of binaries, libs, and sources.

Microsoft Dev Box is constructed on Windows 365, a service that permits IT admins to furnish users with preconfigured virtual PCs. Hence, they can form operating system images and select from hardware configurations with diverse amounts of storage, CPU power, and RAM for dev boxes. In addition, Windows 365 virtual machines, including but not restricted to Dev Box VMs, can be accessed from different Windows PCs or devices running iOS, Android, macOS, Linux, or ChromeOS.

As dev boxes are hosted on Azure and incorporated with Azure Active Directory, development crews can rapidly onboard new team partners by assigning them to Azure Active Directory groups. It grants access to the Dev Boxes they need for their projects. In addition, dev boxes can be deployed to the developer’s local territory and started/stopped at any time to protect cost (it’s still a VM that incurs cost when enabled).

Microsoft is not the preferably public cloud vendor that deploys a commercial cloud-based IDE. Its competitor AWS has already placed a cloud-based IDE with AWS Cloud9 since 2017. It delivers a fully-featured IDE for writing, running, and debugging code from a web browser.

Lastly, the service is in private preview and will be public in the following few months.