I do almost all of my development from virtual machines. I use VMWare Workstation Pro for this and it has served me well for many years. I like the snapshot and cloning aspects plus being able to move a machine to a different drive, back it up, and even put it on my in-office Windows server and free up local memory and hard drive space.
As I've done this a number of times, there are some steps that I replicate on every machine for consistency and convenience. Everyone will have their own way of doing things and favorite tools--these are mine.
- Don't put spaces in your default user name when installing Windows! Most applications support paths with spaces but there are a few batch files and utilities that don't put quotes around them and in one VM where I left my username at "David Cornelius" I run into errors like this:
Compiling project "packages\Sydney\Delphi\DOSCommandDR.dproj"...
MSBUILD : error MSB1008: Only one project can be specified.
- Use OneDrive--but don't link it to your Documents folder. It's simple to link your Windows 10 account with OneDrive for shared access to your files. There are other file syncing systems, of course, like DropBox, Google Drive, etc. but those all require additional setup or downloading of software. Your Microsoft account is already there and the files are not downloaded to your local drive until you need them.
- Install Git Bash and SourceTree. Every developer that shares code with others is probably using some online git repository. SourceTree is a great free tool for managing these repositories.
- Install Windows Terminal. This is a great Windows Store app that provides several shells in a tabbed interface, completely configurable. Definitely watch this great YouTube video by Scott Hansleman on setting it up with PowerShell and Git Bash. I have a saved .json configuration file on OneDrive that is setup just the way I like it and every new VM gets a copy of it.
- For Delphi programmers using XE8 or newer, replace the Welcome screen with Daniel Wolf's Idea of a Welcome Page.
- Install signtool. Every professional programmer should be automatically signing their code these days. Get a certificate and authenticate yourself!
- Install InnoSetup. This free tool for creating installers can do just about everything the very costly programs like InstallAware or InstallSheild can do. Some of the tasks take a little more setup rather than just clicking a checkbox but the scripts are all in plain text and easily copied for other projects.
- Setup your favorite editors and tools. Mine include EditPad Pro (written in Delphi), XML Notepad 2007, XYplorer, WinSCP, Autorun Organizer, and a couple of browsers (FireFox, Brave, Vivaldi) in addition to Edge.
There are a few other things I do as well and I may come back and add to this list, but this is pretty comprehensive--with the exception of installing Delphi, of course!