Coffeehouse Thread

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How does a typical Microsoft developer's computer configuration look like?

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  • Patko

    Could anybody describe a typical developer's computer in Microsoft? I'm interested in both the hardware and software configuration. Which hardware do you find decent for a developer's station? I'd specially like to know do you use Windows XP or 2003. Do you and how do you use virtualization apps?


  • juliankay

    Also, do you get your email etc on the same machine that you do your code on? Do you have domain policies stopping you from installing crap onto the machines?

  • trippparks


    Machines are bought by the individual groups in Microsoft so each group may have variations.

    Normally we replace machines every 2 years or so, the current generation of machines are:

    ~512Mb Ram
    ~80G HD
    Various Processor types(32 and 64bit machines)

    Of course there are variations, but this proabably would be the average configuration.

    The OS we use is normally the one the developer is currently working on. I currently have a build of XPSP2 installed.

    The software is pretty much up to the developers taste. You normally have the source tree tools that we install and your editor of choice. I've seen various source editors including: vi, emacs, Visual Studio, various older microsoft editors, and various commercial editors.

    The only group policy enforced software is the corporate AV software. Most developers have email on their main machines. 

  • Sampy

    Couple differences from a dev in VB.

    I have 3 machines and only one runs XP Pro. I use this machine for mail, web browsing, and other Office apps.

    I use 2k3 on my 2 dev machines because it makes it easier to allow QA people or other devs to use Term Sever to test my private fixes. Also, I have special need to work with IIS 6.0; ClickOnce and MSI Web Setups have special IIS scenarios that I need to work with.

    I did turn XP theming on, however, so my 2k3 is pretty Smiley

  • trippparks

    I did forget to mention I was in the Core OS Group Networking.

    We also have test machines, the average dev/test has 2 or 3 test machines, normally less powerful than the dev box, they run whatever the os you need to test is.


  • Larry​Osterman

    Over here in multimedia, I have:

    Dev machine: 3.02GHz P4, 1G RAM, 2 monitors.  I read email, edit and compile on the left and run IE and MSDN on the right.

    Test machine 1: 1.7GHz P3, 700M RAM
    Test machine 2: 933MHz P3, 512M RAM

    Laptop: 1Ghzish P3 mobility, 256M RAM.

    Laptop serves as a backup dev machine and for writing stuff up at home.

  • sbc

    LarryOsterman wrote:
    Over here in multimedia, I have:
    Test machine 1: 1.7GHz P3, 700M RAM

    Surely you mean P4 - PIII only goes up to 1.4Ghz. Unless its overclocked or you get Intel CPU's that no one else gets.

  • juliankay

    Thank you very much! Very interesting!

  • Manip

    LarryOstermam - Isn't it a security risk to take source-code home with you, I mean if your laptop got stolen or broken into outside the security of the intranet?

  • ZippyV

    Sampy, I've tried to install on win2003 but every time I try to open the server explorer in I get an error. It probably has something to do with the security settings.
    Did you have to change a setting to make the Server Explorer work?

  • ZippyV

    They will use Windows XP Pro, not 2003.

  • Larry​Osterman


    Concievably.  That's why the sources are encrypted with EFS on the hard disk.  And I use a strong password.

  • Manip

    Fair enough.. but from what I have read almost all passwords using that system can be cracked within 6months. And for the WinXP or Longhorn src people would spend a year at it before giving up.

  • Larry​Osterman

    I'll be honest and say that as far as I know, our IT Security people don't have any recomendations for laptops beyond what I'm doing.

    You're right that it can be broken, I'm not sure what it'll take, but...  My suspicion is that they're more worried about the people who have the unencrypted source code Smiley  I also run MBSA regularly and fix any vulnerabilities listed.

    The other thing to think about is what is the real risk.

    The chances of someone stealing my laptop because I'm a Microsoft employee is relatively small.  I'd be more concerned about someone stealing my laptop and pawning it.

  • garagorn

    Microsoft Office development is done on Windows Server 2003.

    Current dev configuration is ~3 GHz P4, 1 GB RAM, 120+ GB disk space, 64 MB+ video card.

    It's also standard to have a second box for testing purposes; that one will often have disk images to support quickly getting into other OS's (Win-XP, Win2K, etc.).

    Lots of devs will keep around additional older machines for reading e-mail, playing around with server products, etc.

    Virtual PC usage is on the rise; that's a big reason why we've gone to 1GB RAM as a standard. Useful for testing Office on other OS's, in other languages, and increasingly for deploying and testing server-side products like Sharepoint Portal server and the like. I expect Virtual Server will get a lot of use in this area moving forward.

    Developers here generally don't get laptops unless they can justify it (i.e. managers who attend a lot of meetings). In part this is due to security concerns, but also because it's easy (and much cheaper) to use remote desktop to access the developer box than to get a hopped-up laptop.

  • Sampy

    I don't use Sever Explorer and I don't have 2003 installed on either of my machines.

    Sorry man!

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