Microsoft defines the Microsoft Dev Box as a “secure, ready-to-code workstation in the cloud.” With its release into a Public Preview, programmers can try Microsoft Dev Box for free online today.
Dev Box provides developers with access to development boxes that are pre-configured and readily available on the cloud. Specifically, they are an Azure service that can be used by individual developers or development teams. The intent is to allow programmers to focus on writing code while reducing – or removing – the need to focus on infrastructure or development environments.
What are the Benefits of Microsoft Dev Boxes?
Microsoft’s Dev Boxes are pre-configured to be grabbed when needed (on-demand) for project or task-based solutions. The development environments contain the tools needed to target common platforms including desktop, mobile, web, Internet of Things (IoT), and game development. A Dev Box can be set to provide everything a developer needs to start coding immediately. This means when a new developer is brought on-board, the potentially tedious task of configuring a development environment is no longer required.
Example of the Device Listing panel of a Dev Box
Dev Boxes can also be used to keep development projects separate. You can use a Dev Box to try a proof of concept, to work with a new add-in, or do something that could otherwise taint your primary development environment.
Antho Cangialosi, Principal Group PM at Microsoft, stated: “ Microsoft Dev Box is a managed service that enables developers to create on-demand, high-performance, secure, ready-to-code, project-specific workstations in the cloud.” He went on to mention that Microsoft Dev Boxes support any tools, integrated development environments (IDEs), and software development kits (SDKs) that run on Windows. This includes support for Android and Linux, thanks to the Windows Subsystems for Linux and Android.
Because Dev Boxes run on Azure, developers have the flexibility of remote access without the loss of security. Developers can access Dev Boxes from Windows, MacOS, Android, iOS, and web browsers. Programmers also have the flexibility to set up a Dev Box with the system requirements they want to meet the needs and scale of any system they choose to create. Azure services for; as an example, Active Directory groups and Microsoft 365 can be used to configure permissions based on roles or other criteria. This, in turn, means that access can be given or removed as needed.
If a project needs a vendor to do testing, access can be given when needed and removed when completed. Additionally, because the Dev Box is in the cloud, the vendor can access the system without the need to provide any additional hardware.
How Much Does Microsoft Dev Box Cost?
As mentioned, Microsoft’s Dev Box is currently in a Public Preview. This means programmers can access it today via the Azure Portal. The cost to use Dev Boxes in the future will be based on usage. Like most cloud-based services, the more you use, the more the cost. This also means software development teams only pay for what they use. Ultimately, the cost will be based on Azure compute and storage pricing. At the time this article was written, Microsoft Dev Boxes was in Public Preview. This meant that coders could get 15 hours for free each month of the 8vCPU and 32 GB Memory SKU, along with 365 hours of the dev storage box SSD 512 GB SKU. If you are new to Azure, you can also start with a free Azure trial, which includes a $200 usage credit.
It is worth noting that, to use Microsoft Dev Boxes, each user must have a license for Windows 10 or 11 Enterprise, Microsoft Endpoint Manager, and Azure Active Directory P1. Additionally, if you set up a Dev Box, you will be billed for active usage for compute, as well as storage, for any time the Dev Box exists on your account.
For regions in the United States, compute prices for 4 vCPU, 16 GiB Memory compute services is $0.99 US per hour and $1.98 US for 8 vCPU, 32 GiB Memory. Storage is $0.105 per hour for 512 GiB per hour, $0.053 per hour for SSD 256 GiB, and $0.21 per hour for SSD 1024 GiB.
How to Use Microsoft Dev Boxes
Microsoft Dev Boxes are generally going to be set up by a Dev infrastructure admin, who is typically responsible for providing the infrastructure and tools for the developer team. They will create dev centers that provide permissions and resource access for developers to use. These will be created in the form of a Dev Box image definition.
Usually, a project admin will create and manage Dev Box pools. These pools allow developers and Dev Box users to pick the Dev Boxes they need. Because the Dev Box pools are set up, developers and Dev Box users are able to access the infrastructure they need quicker and easier without the need to tap IT personnel. A developer or Dev Box user will be able to access a Dev Box through a browser or using a remote desktop app.
Once a project admin has set up a Dev Box option, programmers can access it by navigating to devbox.microsoft.com. From there, you will be able to select any available boxes. If Dev Boxes have not been created, then you can learn more about setting up and configuring a Dev Box at Microsoft’s official Dev Box page.