Windows now has a Linux-style package manager

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If you’ve been doing a lot of tinkering with Linux, you’ve almost certainly found yourself in the command line interface and discovered the joy of the apt-get command. While running software on Linux can be a challenge, installation the software is a snap. Now Windows has its own package manager if you’re up to the task.

Microsoft unveiled its package manager this week, and the inspiration is pretty clear and in tune with the company’s continued adoption of Linux. Once installed, the command you will run in Powershell is “winget”.

To start using it, you must first go to Microsoft’s Github repository and install the Windows Package Manager preview. Once installed, open Microsoft Windows Terminal or a command line. If you open the command line, type ‘powershell’ and press Enter to enter the enhanced command line. Once you are in Powershell, type “winget” to see a list of commands. All you need to install Putty, VLC, Spotify, Notepad ++ is to type “winget install putty” or “winget install spotify”.

The application automatically downloads the EXE or MSI file directly from the Microsoft repository and opens the installer. Winget then starts the Windows GUI for the installer to complete. All you’re missing out on is having to open the dreaded Windows Store or even load up a website and figure out which of the 10 “Download” buttons is. the Download button.

Just in case “Preview” wasn’t a clue …

It’s great, super early software, and it lacks some major features. There’s no uninstall feature, no version check, and no way to check if you already have something. There is also no dependency management option; Windows normally only bundles these items together, so it’s not clear at this time how Microsoft will handle these items or if will to have to. There is also no way to pin a particular software version.

Even with these caveats in mind, it’s an absolute pleasure to use. I installed Winget before installing Terminal, and it was great to skip the Windows Store entirely. With a little more development, Windows Package Manager will become an indispensable tool for power users who assemble new systems and for the system administrator who could run scripts to install full suites of software with just a few clicks.

Not to mention Microsoft’s updated PowerToys suite, which brings things like PowerToys Run, a launcher that combines the good parts of the Run menu and Start search, without the Bing search. All in all, there are a lot of great new Windows tools for those of us who work in the Microsoft operating system but need a little more power.


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