Tuesday 12 May 2015

Windows Development Environment on a Mac (for free)

There's nothing particularly novel in this post but since I've just spent a half a day creating a C# development environment on my Mac I thought it would be useful to outline the steps.

Here are the steps you will need to take:

  1. Download and install VirtualBox. This is a free virtualisation product backed by Oracle. It will allow you to run a virtualised client OS as a window inside OSX. It seems to be just as good as Parallels but is completely free. 
  2. Download Windows (I chose 8.1 which is the latest full released version).  You can get this from the Microsoft Technet Evaluation Centre.  It comes with a 90 day trial license which will of course have to converted into a full licence after that period has expired.
  3. Then create a new OS inside VirtualBox for Windows. My tips here are:
      • To give the OS at least 50GB disk if you have the space.  Full installations of Windows, VisualStudio and Office take a lot of disk space (around 25GB) and you want to have a decent amount left.
      • By default VirtualBox only allocates 1 CPU to the OS.  You want to increase that, also increase the amount of memory that you give the OS if you want decent performance experience.
      • This is pretty obvious but make sure you choose the correct setting for the OS you are installing. i.e. Windows 8.1 not Windows 8 if that's your OS.
  4.  It will take about 15 minutes for Windows to install and then you will find that the screen resolution isn't quite right.  You need to install Guest device - this video describes it well.
  5. Now that you are in Windows, make it full screen and you should almost forget you are on a Mac.  Download VisualStudio. The express edition is free. It takes an age to install so make yourself a cup of tea while you're waiting...
  6. Depending on what you're developing you might also want to install MS Office.  As with Windows you can download an evaluation version from the Microsoft Technet Evaluation Centre.
  7. If you're code is in GitHub and you prefer to use a Bash command line I would definitely recommend you download Git Bash.
So there you have it a fully installed Windows environment on your Mac for free - well at least free for 90 days by which time you will probably be desperate to come back to Mac OSX again anyway :-)

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