Microsoft Dev Box Now Ready for Commercial Use

Microsoft Dev Box, a service that lets developers set up remotely accessible environments for their software projects, has reached the "general availability" stage, per a Monday Microsoft announcement.

Dev Box was built using the Windows 365 desktop-as-a-service offering and gets accessed via a Web browser. Developers can spin up workspace pools with hardware options for use by dev teams. A Standard option delivers 8vCPU, 32GB of RAM and 512GB SSD storage. A Data Engineering option brings 16vCPU, 64GB of RAM and 1TB SSD storage.

Developers can use any Windows-based dev tools they want for a project. However, Dev Box can also be used for cross-platform development via Windows Subsystem of Linux and Windows Subsystem for Android, which are Windows components that provide access to Linux-based dev tools.

Dev Box aims to free developers from having to wait for IT departments to set up the resources needed for particular projects. However, Microsoft also stresses that IT can have oversight since Dev Box gets managed via Microsoft Endpoint Manager and Microsoft Intune. IT pros can set up conditional access policies for access to the service. They get management, analytics and compliance controls.

Microsoft offers Dev Box for full-time use at a maximum fixed monthly rate, or there's a pay-as-you-go option based on hourly compute and monthly storage costs. The monthly rate and pay-as-you-go pricing vary depending on the hardware configurations that are used, per Microsoft's pricing page. It's possible to "hibernate" the service, when no charges except storage will accrue.

Organizations need to meet certain licensing requirements to use Dev Box, namely they'll need licensing for "Windows 11 Enterprise or Windows 10 Enterprise, Microsoft Endpoint Manager, and Azure Active Directory P1." This licensing is included with the following subscriptions: "Microsoft 365 F3, Microsoft 365 E3, Microsoft 365 E5, Microsoft 365 A3, Microsoft 365 A5, Microsoft 365 Business Premium, and Microsoft 365 Education Student Use Benefit."

Dev Box came to be a product after Microsoft introduced Azure DevTest Labs in 2016, which let dev teams use virtual machine templates for testing purposes. However, preconfiguring dev environments using Azure DevTest Labs had required "significant effort to build out additional governance and management features," Microsoft explained. Microsoft subsequently moved toward providing a more "turnkey" provisioning approach with Dev Box. The use of Windows 365 service allowed Dev Box to offer IT management capabilities via Intune.

Microsoft had indicated back in May, during its Build event for developers, that it planned to commercially release Dev Box in July. It had also indicated back then that some aspects, such as starter developer images and a specialized Developer Portal were already commercially ready. Some companies, such as General Motors, have been using the Dev Box service "since July 2022."

About the Author

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