Microsoft hopes a new cloud service will address one of the biggest challenges that developers have raised with the technology giant over the last several years: managing developer workstations.
Microsoft Dev Box, now in private preview, creates virtual developer workstations running its Windows operating system in the cloud, allowing development teams to standardize how those fundamental tools are initialized, set up and managed.
Dev teams can preconfigure Dev Boxes for specific projects or tasks so they are ready to code. The new service’s integration with Windows 365 ensures unified management, security and compliance by allowing IT administrators to manage them and Cloud PCs with Microsoft Intune and Microsoft Endpoint Manager.
The launch, which will be announced Tuesday at the Microsoft Build developers conference, follows Microsoft’s release last year of GitHub Codespaces, a cloud-based development environment that can be accessed from a web browser, Visual Studio Code or by using Secure Shell Protocol.
“While [GitHub] Codespaces is a fantastic solution for Linux-based apps, cloud-native apps, web applications and source code repositories that are hosted in GitHub, Microsoft Dev Box will allow you to have compliance and a pre-loaded Windows dev workstation in the cloud,” Amanda Silver, corporate vice president of Product for Microsoft’s developer division, told Protocol.
Developers are constantly resetting their boxes, according to Silver. Every time they need to learn a new technology, onboard a new employee or investigate a new bug, it all starts with setting up a developer box.
“That can often take a really long time, because it means that you need to create a developer machine that basically can compile and run the source code that your team is working on more broadly,” she said. “And getting a consistent environment is a really challenging thing. We also have a situation where getting the hardware that you need to get access to is increasingly challenging with supply chain constraints.”
Microsoft also announced Azure Deployment Environments in private preview. The new service is designed to make it easier for development teams to quickly spin up application infrastructure with project-based, self-serviced, infrastructure-as-code templates.
“[It’s] basically a way that you can set up dev tests and production deployment slots that can provision all of the other resources that your application might have a dependency on,” Silver said. “With that, you can actually have a complete one-stop shop to be able to go from your code to the cloud really faster than ever, because you could both set up the dev workstation but also set up the developer environment that you need to target to be able to build that solution.”