Good stuff from Microsoft

Microsoft has rolled out some good developer-support stuff lately. This will help us get past their embrace – extend – suffocate strategy of the Ballmer years.

They now allow individuals and small teams to use Visual Studio Community Edition free of charge. This is huge for their ecosystem: it puts them on a par, toolchain-wise, with the Java / Eclipse ecosystem.

We all know that “free” means “as in free kittens.” Once you have a free kitten, you need to take care of it. But these Microsoft kittens aren’t growing up to be as mean and voracious as the ones from ten years ago.

They’ve provided virtual machine images for lots of combinations of OSs and browsers from Windows XP to Windows 10, and from IE6 to Edge. This is a good resource for compatibility testing. Check it out.

These are easy to use if your favorite laptop or desktop has a bunch of extra hard drive space and RAM. (Less than 50Gib disk space free? Less than 4Gib of RAM? This stuff isn’t for you.) Go download a virtual machine container like the Sun Micro (now Oracle) VirtualBox container. Install it, as a software package. Then download the version of Windows and browser you want from here. Unzip the download file, then use the File > Import … function in VirtualBox. Then start the virtual machine.

Thanks, Microsoft and Sun guys.

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