Microsoft announces Windows Terminal, a new command line app for Windows

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Windows users never had a fully featured terminal program built into the OS. Command Prompt was the only option and was used as an alternative and while it did serve people well for years, Windows 10 always put much more of emphasis on the Windows PowerShell. However, Microsoft is now launching a new command line app for Windows, namely Windows Terminal, Microsoft announced at its Build developer conference today. It is designed to be the central location for access to frameworks like PowerShell, Cmd, and the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL). Microsoft is also adding multiple tab support alongside theming and customization for developers who want to tweak the Terminal app.

Microsoft has been working on improvements to make the Windows command-line experience even better and making it work much more like Unix command-line environments. But there are a couple of issues that are still waiting to be fixed:

  • Firstly, people want tabs in their command-line,
  • and secondly, they want support for emoji.

However, with today’s announcement, Microsoft is bringing in a new application named the Windows Terminal. It will include multiple tabs along with themes and other customization features. The Windows Terminal uses GPU-based text rendering and even supports emoji. It includes tabs so you can open Cmd, PowerShell, and WSL consoles in a single window.

WSL2(Windows Subsystem for Linux 2) was also announced today and is said to be based on a Linux 4.19 kernel. We’re told the kernel uses tech built specifically for Azure and should help to reduce Linux boot time while also streamlining memory use. The kernel is said to be using tech built specifically for Azure and should help to reduce Linux boot time while also streamlining memory use.

Microsoft’s file system performance can be said to be very slow and it takes much longer to create, enumerate, and destroy files and folders when compared to a Linux machine. Some of these issues are likely due to the NTFS file system and its performance in these areas has long lagged behind that of Linux file systems but a big portion of the overhead appears to be WSL itself. The improvements Microsoft is making with the launch of WSL2 should at least double the performance of these file system operations.

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