Microsoft's New Dev Box Service Lets Developers Create 'Workstations in the Cloud'

Microsoft made the preview of its new Dev Box workstation-in-the-cloud service available to developers this week. The new service is designed to llow developers to create "on-demand, high-performance, secure, ready-to-code, project-specific workstations in the cloud," the company said.

Dev boxes are preconfigured with all the tools and settings developers need for their projects and tasks, explained Anthony Cangialos, principal group PM, in a blog post. "Developers can create their own dev boxes whenever they need to quickly switch between projects, experiment on a proof-of-concept, or kick off a full build in the background while they move on to the next task."

The service allows developers to create and maintain dev box images with the tools and dependencies they need to build and run their applications. Developer leads can deploy the right size dev box for specific roles in a team anywhere in the world, Cangialos explained, selecting from 4 vCPU / 16GB to 32 vCPU / 128GB SKUs to scale to any size application. "By deploying dev boxes in the closest Azure region and connecting via the Azure Global Network," Cangialos said, "dev teams ensure a smooth and responsive experience with gigabit connection speeds for developers around the world."

The new Dev Box service supports any developer IDE, SDK, or tool that runs on Windows, and developers can use it to target any development workload that can be built from Windows, including desktop, mobile, IoT, and web applications. It also supports building cross-platform apps thanks to Windows Subsystem for Linux and Windows Subsystem for Android. And remote access gives developers the flexibility to securely access dev boxes from any device, whether it’s Windows, MacOS, Android, iOS, or a web browser, the company said.

IT administrators can use Azure Active Directory groups to grant access to sensitive source code and customer data for each project. Role-based permissions and custom network configurations make it possible for developer leads to give vendors limited access to the resources they need to contribute to the project, which eliminates the need to ship hardware to short-term contractors.

Also, because Dev Box builds on Windows 365, IT admins can manage the dev boxes with the physical devices and cloud PCs via Microsoft Intune and the Microsoft Endpoint Manager.

The ability to create these on-demand workstations in the cloud is a response, at least in part, to recent supply chain challenges. "Supply chain challenges have led to developers waiting weeks or months to get the hardware they need, forcing them to use aging hardware or unsecured personal devices," Cangialos said. "At the same time, hybrid work has forced IT to open access to corporate and on-premises resources to developers around the world. With access to sensitive source code and customer data, developers are increasingly becoming the target of more sophisticated cyberattacks."

Microsoft Dev Box uses a consumption-based compute and storage pricing model, which means organizations pay only for what they use.

Information about getting stared with Microsoft Dev Bos and how to deploy a dev box from a pool is available here.

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at [email protected].