Microsoft’s new Dev Home app for Windows 11 makes it easier to set up your workflow

Microsoft is making life easier for developers on Windows 11 with a new centralized experience, plus new updates for Windows 11.

Windows 11 (option 4)

Microsoft has announced a handful of new tools and capabilities for Windows 11 to make the life of developers much easier. One of the big news is the new Dev Home app, which is meant to be a centralized hub for all your developments needs. There are also a few smaller updates for Windows 11 that should make things easier not just for developers, but for all kinds of users.

Dev Home and Dev Drive enhance the developer experience

Dev Home is a new Windows 11 app, available in preview, which aims to simplify various aspects of developers’ lives. For one thing, Dev Home makes it easier to set up your developer environment with a winget (Windows Package Manager) configuration file. You can create a configuration file and use it to configure a new development machine completely unattended, speeding up the process while also setting up your machine in a repeatable and reliable way. This way, you can have a new PC up and running much more quickly so you can start development.

Screenshot of a customized dashboard in the Dev Home app

Source: Microsoft

This app can also connect to GitHub so you can access and track the repositories you care about and prepare your PC to code for them. You can add GitHub widgets to see recent changes and updates to your projects in a centralized and customizable dashboard. Extensibiity is a big part of Dev Home, which is also open source so everyone can contribute to making it a better tool. Developers can create their own extensions for Dev Home, and Microsoft is also working with the Xbox team to bring the GDK to Dev Home and help game developers as well.

Another feature of Dev Home is called Dev Drive, which is a specialized drive based on the ReFS file system that also enables a special performance mode in Microsoft Defender, promising up to a 30% improvement in build times for file I/O scenarios and it doesn’t sacrifice security. In fact, Microsoft says it’s more secure than using file or folder exclusions in Microsoft Defender.

Windows 11 updates enhance the experience for developers and users

On top of Dev Home, Windows 11 itself is also being updated with a few, arguably smaller improvements that should actually make life much easier. One feature mentioned by Microsoft is the ability to switch multiple instances of the same app on the taskbar with a single click, as apps will now be ungrouped and labeled. This is a feature that’s yet to show up in Insider builds, and Microsoft didn’t say when it would be available.

Microsoft also announced support for new archive formats thanks to the libarchive open source project. That means you can now open files with .7z, .rar, .gz, and other natively in Windows 11 and enjoy improved performance for archive compression. Microsoft is also adding the ability to move a Windows Terminal tab to a different window.

A couple other features are already available in preview, though, such as the ability to end a task from the taskbar without having to open Task Manager. You can also now hide the time and date from the taskbar altogether, if you don’t want to see them.

One last feature Microsoft mentioned is a new Dynamic Lighting page in the Settings app, meaning you can control the RGB lighting patterns on supported devices without relying on third-party apps. As Microsoft points out, many of the accessories with RGB lighting on the market today rely on different third-party apps, meaning you can end up needing multiple apps just to customize your accessories. The Dynamic Lighting page will be available in preview this month.