Developing on Windows

For a bit of parity and an alternative to my view on Developing on a Mac, it’s time to share my experience of Windows.

A bit of prior history; I started on Sinclair Spectrum 48k, then BBC Micro and Acorn Archimedes. It was the Archimedes that I first experienced WIMP desktops. So when I first started using a PC, Windows 3.1 was the flavour of OS at the time. Since then, Windows has changed dramatically!

The OS has changed extensively over the years and now we have Windows 10. I have this OS version at home. But Windows 7 is still the one supported at the corporate level.

I do not consider myself a power user on a Windows OS. Simplistic Command Line batch files are all I ever do. I tend to get some form of Linux variation to work, such as Cygwin or Node command line due to my familiarity with Linux.

Microsoft Visual Studio – This series of IDE’s is where the majority of native Windows developers spend their time. Other editors are available. The latest version is Visual Studio 2015. It seems that VS gets an update every year now. One of the big changes I have seen is the integration of Git. Coming from many years of Perforce, I was used to a series of integrations that evolved and improved. Then VS 2105, bam, Git and it works. (There are caveats to it working, especially from a security point of view; see this blog post).

Security – Microsoft made huge efforts to change the mindset of a platform that was weak to security. A natural situation at the time for one of the most prevalent OSes in the world, in the hands of the general consumers. This has included revised user account security (annoyingly, but can be reduced) and the inclusion of security software, such as Windows Defender. There is also the bane of many developers known as Windows Firewall. Some security is better than none, and it will always be a moving target. Microsoft also have their own guide to software development security in Security Development Lifecycle. From my point of view, these are good examples of where Microsoft are making strides towards secure software. It is not to say others are not, but this is a huge direction for Microsoft.

If I had been writing a post on the benefits and advantages of Windows about 2 years ago, it would have been a lot more one sided in favour of Windows compared to Mac. Lesson to learn here, there is always another side to the story. A little more brushed aluminium hardware helps.

I expect to add more platform related thoughts, so watch this space.

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