In between jobs, the only computer at my disposal has been a Windows machine I built for gaming last summer. Until recently I’d only ever used it as a launcher for Steam or Warzone, but now I needed to use it as a development box. For the first time in 15 years or so I was delving into using Windows full-time. Here’s what I did:
Ok, so I cheated. WSL2 seems to hold a lot of promise for Linux on Windows, but after 30 minutes of attempting to set it up I gave up. Instead, I opted for spinning up a DigitalOcean Droplet to use as my development box. Along with VSCode’s excellent Remote extension and mosh, using this machine is indistinguishable from running something locally and I get the added benefit of a stable environment that I can use from any computer connected to the internet.
After setting everything up, I installed and configured code-server so I could even use VSCode from a browser if I needed to. This might come in handy for accessing from an iPad down the line.
- Digital Ocean for VPS hosting
- mosh for zero-latency shell access to the Droplet
- VSCode and VSCode remote with the GitHub theme and Operator Mono
- code-server for using VSCode in a browser
- Fluent Terminal for a good looking terminal for Windows which plays well with mosh and SSH
- neofetch for the nice system info display
Using a Magic Keyboard
I found the most jarring part of using Windows for productivity tasks was the default keyboard mapping. I have a Magic Keyboard 2 which I love and have used for years and the keyboard shortcuts for macOS are ingrained deeply within me. Luckily, with a couple pieces of software you can feel completely at home within the Windows environment.
The first is Microsoft’s PowerToys which is fantastic suite of apps that add ‘pro’ features to Windows such as a window manager, Alfred-like app launching and importantly for us, key mapping. You can find my configuration files on GitHub which you can use on your own machine by placing at
PowerToys affords us some improvements, but for the best experience I found Magic Keyboard Utilities which installs the correct keyboard layouts into Windows natively and also provides some extra info like battery life.
With these two pieces of software I found a lot of stuff on Windows now felt much more intuitive and comfortable even the media keys work as expected.
Lastly some other things I used to improve Windows for myself:
Making these changes made using Windows a whole lot better for me. If there’s anything I’m missing please let me know.