Microsoft announces Terminal 1.0, Windows package manager, and other changes

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Microsoft hosts a conference for software engineers and web developers every year. Called Build, or // build /, the event is a conference for developers who work primarily on Windows, Microsoft Azure, and other technologies. While Microsoft holds a field event every year, as they have done for the past few years, but because of COVID-19, Build 2020 is an online ad only. On occasion, Microsoft has announced a plethora of new features, such as Windows Terminal 1.0, Windows Package Manager, Windows Subsystem for Linux 2, all of which will be of use to many developers in one form or another.

Windows Terminal 1.0

At last year’s Build 2019 developer conference, Microsoft announced Windows Terminal. This is exactly what it sounds like – a new terminal app from Microsoft.

Some of the highlights of the app are the inclusion of GPU accelerated text rendering, support for themes, tabs, tear-off windows, shortcuts, full Unicode support, and more. The end goal of Windows Terminal is to be a good replacement for other command line applications like PowerShell and Command Prompt.

Windows Terminal was previewed in Build 2019, and now, in Build 2020, the app has upgraded to its full version as Windows Terminal 1.0.

Windows Terminal 1.0

Windows Terminal 1.0 can be downloaded from the Microsoft Store or from GitHub. The app will be updated monthly from July 2020. But if you want to try out the latest features before they hit the stable branch, you can check out the preview channel on Microsoft Store and GitHub.

Main features of Windows Terminal 1.0 as mentioned in Microsoft documentation:

  • Multiple profiles supporting a variety of command line applications
  • Custom color schemes and configurations
  • Custom keyboard shortcuts
  • Support for Unicode and UTF-8 characters
  • GPU accelerated text rendering
  • Support for background image
  • Support for command line arguments

Microsoft Windows Package Manager

If you are familiar with GNU / Linux distributions, you are most likely familiar with command line package managers. Put simply, a package manager handles the process of installing, configuring, and uninstalling packages (or applications) on your computer. A command line package manager performs all of these tasks from the command line. Microsoft has never officially offered a command line package manager, but that is changing with the Windows package manager.

Windows has had a few popular third-party command line package managers, like Chocolatey, but these aren’t official and don’t come from Microsoft themselves. Unlike an app store like the Windows Store, a package manager supports installing apps from multiple sources, making it easy to set up different development environments with fewer points of friction.

Windows Package Manager is now available as a preview. What’s even more exciting about it is the fact that it’s open source.

Windows Package Manager provides the following features, when preceded by the fin order:

  • to install – Install the given application
  • spectacle – Displays information about an application
  • The source – Manage application sources
  • to look for – Find and display basic information of applications
  • chop – Help with hashing installation files
  • to validate – Validate a manifest file
  • -to help – Provides command line help
  • -Info – Provides additional data, useful for troubleshooting
  • -version – Provide client version

To explain, if you use “wing installation“you will see all the command line options for interacting with the Windows package manager. For example, if you type”winget installation terminal”You will install the new Windows Terminal software. The Windows Package Manager is preconfigured to point to the Microsoft Community Repository and you can search for available packages using “wing search“And display the information using”wings show“. You will be able to add third-party repositories with”wing source” also.

The command line client is distributed in the App Installer package which is pre-installed on Windows. However, the client will not generally be available during the preview period, so you must either install a Windows 10 Insider version or sign up for the preview flight ring to receive automatic updates. Additionally, if you don’t mind forgoing automatic updates, you can also manually install it on any version of Windows 10 since Fall Creators Update (1709). When Windows Package Manager reaches version 1.0, it will ship with the Desktop App Installer.


Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 / WSL 2

During Build 2019, Microsoft announced the Windows Subsystem for Linux 2, which comes with a full Linux kernel, allowing you to run Linux commands and applications. For example, you can even go ahead and compile LineageOS using WSL on Windows.

Now Microsoft has announced several major changes to the WSL:

  • Additional support for graphics processing unit (GPU) compute workflows allows Linux tools to leverage GPUs to enable hardware acceleration for many development scenarios, such as parallel computing and model training. machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI).
  • Support for Linux graphical user interface (GUI) applications will allow you to open a WSL instance and run a Linux GUI application directly without the need for a third-party X server. This will help you run your favorite applications in a Linux environment such as an Integrated Development Environment (IDE).
  • WSL will soon support a simplified installation experience by running the “wsl.exe – install” command, making it easier than ever to use Linux applications on Windows.

With these upcoming changes to WSL 2, users no longer need to run an X server to use Linux applications with graphical interfaces. Linux apps will now run much more seamlessly on Windows as well. As Mishaal points out, this just might be the tipping point for the “Year of the Linux Desktop” meme to finally come true, and it’s ironic that Microsoft is bringing that in.


What do you think of the features announced in Microsoft Build 2020? Let us know in the comments below!


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