Microsoft Dev Box is leveling up to support your development needs

Anthony Cangialosi

It’s hard to believe Microsoft Dev Box has already been generally available for almost a year. Since its inception, we’ve seen Dev Box as a fundamental shift in the way we think about developer workstations—moving from static, physical dev machines to ready-to-code, cloud-based workstations. The response to Dev Box—and the feedback we’ve received from the community—has been crucial in helping us understand how to further refine the service, and today we’re excited to announce several new features coming to Dev Box.

From enhanced Dev Box personalization in the Dev Home to team-based image customization and management, we’re committed to making the Dev Box experience a positive one for developers and team leads alike. But beyond the developer experience, we’re also introducing new management features for admins and platform engineers that make it easier to control costs and see how dev boxes are being used across teams.

Of course, this list barely scratches the surface of all the new features we’ve added—read on to find out more about all the enhancements we’re working on in Dev Box.

A platform for teams

In the past, we’ve talked a lot about how Dev Box supports individual developers as well as admins and platform engineers. What we haven’t talked about as much is the impact Dev Box has on the entire developer team. While Dev Box is great for getting developers spun up quickly with self-service, ready-to-code machines, it’s still difficult for dev leads to manage tool sprawl when the typical developer uses up to 250 tools and services in their day-to-day workflows. To account for this, we’re excited to announce several new features that make it easier to manage project configurations and turn Dev Box into a true platform for teams.

One of these new features is team-based customizations for Dev Box, now in private preview. Team-based customizations enable project leads to create customized dev boxes based on each project’s needs, giving them new ways to optimize their teams’ performance.  The new Dev Center imaging service, now in private preview, further optimizes the creation and customization experiences. By leveraging pre-generated Dev Box images that serve as a foundation for customization, team leads can quickly create custom dev boxes for their teams. We’re also constantly expanding our roster of developer-optimized base images. Images for Visual Studio, Docker, Windows, and more can be found on the Azure Marketplace.

Also in preview are project-based catalogs. With these, team leads can create customized templates for Dev Box or Azure Deployment Environments that contain necessary resources for a project. Attaching these as repositories to a project catalog makes them available to developers on the project to use in their work—without having to ask IT for assistance or wait for a ticket to be completed.

Personal and powerful

As devs, it’s critical that we can personalize our machines with the tools we know and love, and that we have the compute power needed to complete every task. Dev Box already enables you to get started faster using VS and Docker base images and leverage shared Single Sign On (SSO) between Dev Box and VS. Config-as-code customizations, announced in preview at Ignite, allow teams to efficiently customize dev boxes without custom images, both speeding up the process and making it more accessible. A great example of this in action is our new Intelligent Apps Dev Box customization. And because coding is for everyone, we’ve created a new accessibility template for Dev Box, designed to simplify starting NonVisual Desktop Access within Dev Box.

Today, we’re also excited to announce that you can now customize your dev boxes through Dev Home, using any available Winget package through a new graphical user interface, making it even easier—and more satisfying—to get set up how you want.

Image Dev Home Preview

Additionally, prepopulated caches for Visual Studio on Dev Box is now in preview. This feature allows teams to pre-generate startup data, allowing for blazing fast access to IDE features like Find In Files and IntelliSense on Dev Box start. Combined with Dev Drive, which is optimized for developer workloads, developers can expect to see significant improvements to startup time and Dev Box performance.

We’re also excited to announce eight new regions with Dev Box availability, helping ensure low latency and better support for developers around the world:

  • Brazil South
  • Central US
  • Germany West Central
  • Italy North
  • South Africa North
  • Southeast Asia
  • Switzerland North
  • Sweden Central [available June 1st]

Better yet, new auto-remediation features and simplified troubleshooting increase Dev Box reliability even more, helping ensure developers can focus on their code and not performance issues.

Built for enterprise trust

While these customization and personalization features are great for dev teams, the last thing we want is for them to add increased pressure on admins who are focused on security, compliance, and cost efficiency. Thankfully, enabling teams to create and manage their own customizations reduces admin workloads, while new features make it easier to control and monitor how teams are using Dev Box.

One of these new features is Dev Box hibernation, which helps control costs for dev boxes when they’re not in use. A hibernating Dev Box saves its current state and won’t accrue additional charges, making it ideal for when developers aren’t at work or are switching between multiple dev boxes for different tasks. To enable this feature at scale, admins can now set up automatic daily hibernation schedules or set Dev Box to hibernate when developers disconnect. When developers are ready to continue, they can quickly wake up their Dev Box and pick up right where they left off. We’re also introducing the ability to cap the number of dev boxes used on a per-developer, per-project basis, allowing for fine-tuning of this critical resource across the organization.

Dev Box telemetry can now be viewed in Azure Monitor, allowing for advanced analytics and troubleshooting. Telemetry for Visual Studio in Dev Box is also now available through Azure Monitor enabling admins to identify trends, visualize data, and make strategic decisions to optimize resource utilization. We’re also bringing expanded SSO options to Dev Box and Visual Studio, helping you keep your critical resources secure while making it easier for your team leaders and developers to sign in and get started.

Image Azure Monitor Overview

Facilitating the work of developers, team leaders, and admins requires giving them the tools they need to succeed. We’re constantly looking to improve these key workers’ experiences and make the entire development process as seamless as possible. If you’re ready to start empowering your team with these great tools from Microsoft, you can try Microsoft Dev Box today.

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