Microsoft grabbed the attention of developers at its virtual Build conference last month by announcing WinGet, a new way to install software on Windows. WinGet is a command-line package manager that allows you to quickly find and download applications from central “repositories”, eliminating the need to browse ad-riddled websites.
Package managers are a reality on Linux systems where they are built into the platform and are the default way to add software. Until now, Windows users only had third-party options available – we’ve covered Chocolatey and Scoop in the past.
With WinGet, Microsoft integrates its own package manager into Windows. It will host a main repository of applications, while also allowing third parties to make their own source lists available. The software in the repository will be installable with a single PowerShell command (or Command Prompt).
WinGet will debut in a future update for Windows 10. You can try it out today by installing it manually. Go to the winget-cli GitHub versions page and look for the latest version (at the top of the page). Click on the “appxbundle” file under “Assets” to download the WinGet installer.
Run the installer and click on the “Update” button that appears. You will need to repeat this process every time a new version of WinGet is released. Once WinGet has been distributed with Windows, you can forget about installing the utility manually.
You can now open PowerShell or Command Prompt to start interacting with WinGet. Start by running
winget without any other parameters – you will see the help text detailing all the available commands. The list is rather limited at the moment, with the initial version of WinGet being limited to the basic capabilities of finding and installing packages.
To find new software, use the
winget search query order, replacement
query with your search term. Although aimed at developers, there is already a growing list of popular Windows apps. Here we can see that WinRAR, VLC and LibreOffice are downloadable through WinGet – no website visit or graphical installation process required.
Let’s go ahead and download VLC. Type
winget install app, substitute
app with the name of the application you want to install. Here,
winget install vlc will suffice, although sometimes you may need to be more specific in your identification if there are multiple matches for a term.
You will see a download progress bar appear in your terminal. Once downloaded, the program will install itself – no human intervention is required. This means that WinGet installations are ideal for use in scripting when provisioning new devices. Once the installation is complete, VLC will appear on your machine as if you had installed it manually. You are ready to start using the app!
Unfortunately, this is where the functionality of WinGet currently ends. The remaining commands allow you to inspect the details of the packages and validate their integrity. There is no support for checking for outdated apps, or even for removing installed packages. All of this should happen in the future.
Although limited at the moment, WinGet is a valuable addition to the Windows software ecosystem. It is a developer first tool that is useful, once learned, to the majority of Windows users as well. With an already growing catalog of applications, WinGet offers a simpler, safer and more streamlined way to install software on your PC.