Monthly Archives: December 2011

Essential Windows Development Tools

Posted by Andy on December 01, 2011
Uncategorized / 2 Comments

I just had the good fortune of getting a new computer at work, so I thought I would write down all of the tools that I normally install for doing software development on Windows.  I’ll probably update this over time, and put in links and all that jazz.

Before I start, I’ll just add a link to an awesome list of Windows tools that puts my list to shame.  It’s developer focused, and there’s a ton of stuff here, but there are some true gems in here.  Thanks to Scott Hanselman for putting this together and updating it over time:

Scott Hanselman’s Ultimate Developer/Power User Tool List

Operating Systems

  • Windows 7 Professional – pretty solid and nice to use once you turn off UAC
  • Windows XP (VMs) – for testing legacy stuff
  • VMware Workstation – not really an OS, but it runs OSs.  Solid and useful for spinning up extra machines for doing whatever.


  • Visual Studio 2010
  • Visual Studio 2008 (we are still doing legacy Windows Mobile development at my work…)
  • Visual Studio 2008 Database Edition (I’m not a huge fan of the dbproj stuff, but it can be nice, and my company uses dbprojs on a lot of solutions, so I have to install this.)
  • Eclipse – still my favorite IDE, and a pleasure to use, but I rarely do any Java anymore.  It’s too bad Java just hasn’t kept up with C# in terms of language innovations.  Maybe I’ll do an Android project someday.

Web Browsers

  • Chrome – best browser hands-down
  • Firefox – used to be my go-to browser, but at the time I decided to move on, it was being a memory hog and was crashing a lot.  That may have improved since then, but I haven’t looked back
  • Internet Explorer – ugly browser (yes you IE6, IE7, IE8, and IE9), but unfortunately required for certain things that I have to use (…Sharepoint… cough…  Infor EAM… cough…)

Text Editors

  • gvim – best text editor in the world!
  • Notepad++ – has some nice plugins that I use to do things that I don’t know how to do in Vim (formatting XML…)

Command Line Tools

  • Cygwin – absolute must-have for day-to-day work
  • Unxutils – Unix command-line tools built for Windows
  • Powershell – I tried to get on the Powershell bandwagon for awhile, but ultimately had to go back to Cygwin.  Powershell requires too much thinking and cryptic syntax to do simple tasks, and is just not quite fast enough.  You could probably say the same thing about Cygwin, but I know the Unix/Linux commands already, so I’m already over that learning curve.

Networking/Debugging Tools

  • Fiddler
  • Wireshark
  • .NET Reflector – once the king of .NET decompiling, but the Red Gate buy-out scandal has left most of the former Reflector community scrambling for a replacement.
  • ILSpy – nice Reflector replacement from SharpDevelop (the Mono guys).  Seems to be almost a clone of Reflector in terms of features and UI.
  • Telerik JustDecompile – Reflector replacement from Telerik.  Seemed nice, but haven’t used it too much yet.

Image Tools

  • Paint.NET – nice for quick image fixes and stuff. I rarely need to do anything other than this.

Other Tools

  • WinRAR
  • DropBox
  • SourceGear DiffMerge
  • WinMerge
  • Ninite – a nice way to quickly install most of the stuff listed on this page!  I was skeptical, but I tried it and have to say that it works really well!


  • Pidgin – can be a little janky sometimes, but it has support for everything I use, and at least it’s not MSN messenger
  • Google+ Hangouts
  • Skype


  • Radio client– ad-free radio with a great catalog
  • Spotify – great for listening to pretty much whatever you want, but the ads are a little excessive.  I demand free music with no ads!