Microsoft Dev Box preview now available —


Microsoft Dev Box preview now available

Microsoft announced this week a public preview of Microsoft Dev Box, which allows developers to create provisioned workspaces for specific projects.

These Dev Box workspaces get all the resources needed for a particular development project, including “any IDE, SDK, or developer tool that runs on Windows.” The Dev Box service is aimed at Windows desktop application developers, but it also supports cross-platform development on Android, iOS, Linux, and macOS, which can occur using the “Windows Subsystem for Linux and Windows Subsystem for Android”.

At the Microsoft Build event in May for developers, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella described the new Dev Box service as a Windows-based development environment for building apps for PCs, mobile and embedded devices.

Based on Windows 365 service
Dev Boxes are accessible remotely by developers. They run in a remote desktop session and can be accessed through “a browser or through a remote desktop application,” according to Microsoft. “Quickstart” guide on creating a Dev Box. The Dev Box scheme is based on Windows 365, which is Microsoft’s desktop offering as a service.

Using Windows 365 gives IT pros management hooks for development boxes through Microsoft Intune or Microsoft Endpoint Manager. IT pros can set Conditional Access policies for Dev Boxes. They can control patches and generally oversee management and compliance aspects.

Here’s how the announcement describes IT’s role in enabling Dev Boxes:

Developer flexibility and productivity cannot come at the expense of security or compliance. Microsoft Dev Box is built on Windows 365, allowing IT admins to easily manage dev boxes with physical devices and cloud PCs through Microsoft Intune and Microsoft Endpoint Manager. IT admins can set conditional access policies to ensure users only access dev boxes from compliant devices while keeping dev boxes up to date with updates quality solutions to deploy zero-day patches across the organization and quickly isolate compromised devices. Endpoint Manager’s in-depth device analytics make it easy to audit application health, device usage, and other critical metrics, giving developers the confidence to focus on their code knowing they’re not. not expose the organization to unnecessary risk.

Dev Boxes are designed to remove the wait developers may experience before IT configures hardware for their particular projects. Hardware options for a Dev Box include “selecting from 4 vCPU / 16 GB to 32 vCPU / 128 GB SKU to accommodate any application size”.

It appears that developers control the rotation of dev boxes, once they are activated by IT using the Azure portal, as described in this document. Creating a Dev Box can take 30-90 minutes and will “automatically start upon creation”, according to the Dev Box creation document.

Here is Microsoft’s illustration of how IT and development teams would use the Dev Box service:

[Click on image for larger view.] Figure 1. IT and development team use of the Microsoft Dev Box service (source: Microsoft Azure blog post August 15).

Invoicing and free preview
When the Dev Box service is released, Microsoft plans to charge organizations based on their use of compute and storage resources.

IT gets some control over when Dev Boxes are running. For example, it is possible to automate the starting and stopping of Dev Boxes each day. Microsoft plans to add a “hibernate” option “in a few weeks” that will shut down Dev Boxes for a period of time.

During the preview period, Microsoft is offering “the first 15 hours of the 8vCPU dev box SKU and 32GB of memory for free each month, and the first 365 hours of the 512GB SSD Storage dev box SKU,” according to the announcement.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media’s Converge360 group.

Lance B. Holton