back to article Hey kids! Ditch that LCD and get ready for the retro CRT world of Windows Terminal

With Windows 7 emitting its last death rattles and a Microsoft engineer poised to pull the plug, the Redmond gang has teased a return to a simpler, text-based time with the next release of Windows Terminal. Due for release on 14 January, the same day as Windows 7 passes out of extended support for all bar those with deep …

  1. elhvb

    You had one job.

    For the life of me, I don't understand why the picture is showing off Norton Commander. That thing that until today has additional functionality compared to ANYTHING Microsoft ever had to offer, namely, showing 2 directories in one screen and have them interact with a sensible way with eachother.

    1. Jamesit

      Re: You had one job.

      That's not Norton Commander, it's Midnight Commander.

      MC has the same interface as NC.

      1. NATTtrash

        Re: You had one job.

        You guys sure? Looks more like PC Tools to me. But then again... (Oi, did you see me glasses?)

        1. tony72

          Re: You had one job.

          The text at the bottom says "Hint: Want your plain shell? Press C-o, and get back to MC with C-o again." So Midnight Commander it is.

      2. Tim99 Silver badge

        Re: You had one job.

        Crap, I’m old. I still use them both.

      3. JohnSheeran

        Re: You had one job.

        It's a Linux tool. It shows /mnt/c/Source/... at the top.

    2. Timbo Bronze badge

      Re: You had one job.

      With the blue background to the pic, it reminded me more of Xtree Pro Gold....not quite sure which version but I loved Xtree !!

      1. Anomalous Cowturd

        Re: You had one job.

        Xtree Gold was the best file manager, bar none. Still nothing to touch it, that I have found.

        1. gerdesj Silver badge

          Re: You had one job.

          On another side of the fence we have access to an embarrassing array of file managers, Window Managers, terms, shells and what not.

          Perhaps you might like to dabble if you hanker back to Xtree. It was a great file manager but it ran on a bag of spanners.

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: You had one job.

          My first time with a decent two window "file manager" was with Laplink. So I just kept using it. It worked well as a file manager simply by setting both windows to a local drive/directory.

          1. steviebuk Silver badge

            Re: You had one job.

            Ah laplink. I discovered in college in the 90s. And discovered you could just copy the laplink directory and you now had the full install of an official licensed laplink. Used it for years. I know its naughty to not have paid but I was a poor student.

      2. Criggie

        Re: You had one job.

        I still have finger-macros embedded deep in my brain for all the common hotkeys in Xtree Gold.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Is it 1st April or something...

  3. Teiwaz

    So...Cool-retro-term alike then?

    You'd think Microsoft would have more useful features higher in priority.

    Especially on the same day they out-of-date a product that millions of their users still use

    But, nope, proudly announcing a gimmick.

    Glad I don't pay for or use Windows.

    1. MontyMole

      Re: So...Cool-retro-term alike then?

      Well, the retro CRT features were not developed by Microsoft anyway.

    2. J. Cook Silver badge

      Re: So...Cool-retro-term alike then?

      ... like fixing the copy/paste/move bug from windows 7 that's never been fixed.

      (Seriously, I can go into a command prompt and move a folder with 354138423538135 children files/folders in the time it takes to do that, whereas with the file explorer UI, it has to walk the ENTIRE TREE first, which can take many minutes. (yeah, 15+ minutes to move a folder in the UI, compared to 5 seconds in a command line prompt.)

      1. HelpfulJohn Bronze badge

        Re: So...Cool-retro-term alike then?

        When you mentioned "c/p/m bug" I thought you were referring to the bug where when I try to Copy a huge folder that either has a couple of large files or many smaller ones or both to an external drive from the on-board drive Windows insists on doing a Move instead.

        I've no idea why my Win-box does this, I've never been bothered enough by it to investigate.

        As my Win is Win-7, I doin't suppose it - if it is a bug - will ever be fixed.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: So...Cool-retro-term alike then?

          "[...] when I try to Copy a huge folder that either has a couple of large files or many smaller ones or both to an external drive from the on-board drive[...]"

          If I try to cut&paste several 100MB+ video files from an SD card it runs for quite a while. Then fails saying it has a time-out on a lock or semaphore. W7 eventually has to be forced to shit-down with the power button before another attempt can be made. Cut&paste the files individually and it takes little time - and no glitches

    3. keithzg

      Re: So...Cool-retro-term alike then?

      On the plus side, this has prompted me to re-install cool-retro-term!

  4. RyokuMas Silver badge

    Not 3D...

    So the original terminal experience was a FLATTY MCFLATSO interface?!?

    Better keep that quiet lest those who FEEL "it was better in the old days" spontaneously combust or something...

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: Not 3D...

      Microsoft have spent longer with a 2D interfaces than skeuomorphic ones, but some bombastic whippersnappers don't remember back that far.

    2. Amentheist

      Re: Not 3D...

      Ah 'feel' as in feel the heat on your face, that's some 4th wall stuff right there!

  5. Unicornpiss

    Does it include..

    ..the Lynx browser?

    Beer, because it's Friday.

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: Does it include..

      IIRC lynx isn't installed in Ubuntu by default, but it's just an apt install lynx away after all.

      WSL can run a variety of distros, so it's up to you.

  6. ForthIsNotDead
    Thumb Up

    I think it's an age thing...

    ...but I just LOVE those old retro effects. I can make my terminal look like an old CPM PCW256 for absolutely no reason whatsoever, or, if I'm feeling posh, the PCW512 - which of course had a much better display.

    Yep. It's an age thing!

    1. My other car WAS an IAV Stryker Silver badge

      Re: I think it's an age thing...

      I might have posted this before, but oh well...

      When I started college, the university libraries recently upgraded their Polaris back-end to work with a new web interface.

      The first cut was all right and was bathed in the school colors. Two years later, there were tweaks that paled the gold to off-white and darkened the blue to almost. But colors aside, in both cases every search meant you had to scroll the browser screen to see even 8-10 results.

      I managed to find some of the pre-Windows DEC terminals (VT100 or compatible) in various spots -- basement, third floor** -- and loved how I didn't have to or scroll, or see those ugly HTML tables, or wait for the browser to load graphics to flip through pages of results keeping my finger on [F]orward.

      And green screen was so much easier on the eyes, also.

      Later on, when I saved an outdated PS/2 386SX running Win95 (how it managed, I don't know) from the trash, I used Terminal to connect to that same backend as the terminals. Running in a window, I lost the scan lines (even though it had a CRT), but it was still way better than the browser.

      (There was a lot of other university stuff connected to Telnet also. Quite useful back then; probably defunct now.)

      ** The main library had an old half (basement + 5 floors) and a new half (4 floors; not sure about basement). The 3rd floor only existed in half the building, and the 4th floor had stairs from "old 4" down to "new 4", which was more like 3.5 (so "new 2" and "new 4" could be extra-height). I knew of one small staircase in the very middle of the building that gave the best access to everything.

      During my tenure, they were constructing an entirely new facility to move over everything and also combine in the Science collections which had been in another building with even WORSE internal layout. I liked the quirks of actually being able to find things, but more convenience won the day.

      1. richardcox13

        Re: I think it's an age thing...

        > with even WORSE internal layout

        Like second hand bookstores I somehow feed libraries should be something of a maze to get the sense of accomplishment when you find your target... or randomly something far more interesting.

        (Access to l-space is purely a bonus.)

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: I think it's an age thing...

          Given time the weight of knowledge will eventually distort space time and make any well thought out library plan into a labyrinth of twisting corridors and hidden, mysterious doors.

          Once a critical mass has been achieved, wormholes will form giving, say the normally timid and surly librarian type, the opportunity to slip into an alternative historical period where they can safely let loose as roman gladiatori or decadent and perverted French aristocracy. This is their reward.

        2. bobajob12

          Re: I think it's an age thing...

          Sorry, when I read your comment I just had a terrible flashback to the days of Gopher and WAIS :)

      2. bobajob12
        Thumb Up

        Re: I think it's an age thing...

        Reading your last comment reminded me of working in Birkbeck College library some 30 years ago. Unlike the rest of the universe, Birkbeck used a cataloging system called bliss that was...anything but. Instead of Math being at 510, say, it would be at some code like QEL/EF. They had the loveliest librarians to help you but my word, you were sunk without them.

        Put it this way: the second edition of the catalog has been in development for a decade longer than the HURD kernel...They started in 1977.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I think it's an age thing...

        "[...] which had been in another building with even WORSE internal layout."

        A customer's offices were in a terraced row of probably Georgian houses. Each house had its own unique layout. There were even two staircases in each house - family and servants. Connecting doorways had been cut in the dividing walls between the houses with various magnitude adjustments for different floor levels. The network boxes were distributed into any old pantry, closet, or tiny room. The one I had to work on that day was shoe-horned into an obsolete toilet space.

    2. Soruk

      Re: I think it's an age thing...

      I'm sure I can't be the only one who uses Bedstead (aka MODE 7) as the preferred terminal font...?

  7. Kubla Cant Silver badge

    Microsoft Program Manager Kayla Cinnamon

    Is that a person or a desktop environment? Genuinely confused.

    1. Dwarf Silver badge

      Re: Microsoft Program Manager Kayla Cinnamon

      @Kubla Cant

      Its a spice isn't it ?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Microsoft Program Manager Kayla Cinnamon

        "Its a spice isn't it ?"

        I don't think so, I seem to recall there were Posh, Sporty, Scary, Baby and Ginger...

        1. captain veg Silver badge

          Re: Microsoft Program Manager Kayla Cinnamon

          Or as she (Ginger) is now known, Old Spice.


    2. Daedalus Silver badge

      Re: Microsoft Program Manager Kayla Cinnamon

      The spice must flow....

      or if you prefer: "Hey Cinnamon, where you gonna run to?"

  8. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    I use the SAA5055 font as the system font for my Linux terminal. :)

    1. hmv

      That's just sick!

      Me? I'm hunting for a copy of the font for an HP264x terminal.

    2. druck Silver badge

      Does it have double height text though?

    3. Yet Another Hierachial Anonynmous Coward


      Teletext rocks! Years ahead of its time.......

      Online information retrieval 15 years before the www and 20 years before digital TV metadata.

      First microprocessor/computer system in most peoples homes.

      1. Soruk

        Re: SAA5055

        And now you can get Teletext online, after some mad individual made a Teletext to Viewdata bridge using the Teefax dataset. or selected clients.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: SAA5055

        "First microprocessor/computer system in most peoples homes."

        In UK. My Apple II was bought in 1979. Other PCs - kit or ready-built - were also available. Our local TV shop started selling Teletext devices in 1981 - IIRC starting with a front-end converter box.

        Both innovations appeared to be leading edge domestic devices. It was a surprise in IIRC 1982 when it was revealed just how many European countries also had Teletext services.

      3. crayon

        Re: SAA5055

        The French version (minitel) was way more advanced than teletext.

    4. Soruk

      Me too. Bedstead all the way, and I centrally install it on my work Linux boxes (along with a console-mode version).

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      DEC vt100 OR BUST!

      1. sbt Silver badge

        Sun Gallant Demi (sun12x22) beats them all

        All those beautiful curves and serifs, but also you could really see the pixels.

        And who could forget the spinning line during boot - \ | / - \ | / - \ | / ....

        But really, this is like 'snow' on digital TVs, or 'hiss, crackle and pop' on digital music files.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Sun Gallant Demi (sun12x22) beats them all

          True. Also, I find most fake scanline effects always seem to be overdone. Maybe it's because they come from the US and their 480 line TV system rather than the UK 576 line TV system.

  9. P.B. Lecavalier

    "/" in paths?

    Am I the only one who noticed that paths have "/", rather than the usual M$ "\", like "C:\"?

    This is not retro. This is futuristic!

    1. Jean Le PHARMACIEN

      Re: "/" in paths?

      Yup, noticed that too. Methinks Midnight Commander on a Linux box or Linux looking at an MS box

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "/" in paths?

      Thats worked for ages in cmd.exe - unless you use / at the start of a path, then the Windows command line barfs, presumably it thinks its a command switch. Nice one MS.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I don't need retro effects

    I've still got an old file server which has a CRT display.

    There are many retro IT things which I'd argue are better than today - computer keyboards, gameplay in games, Windows before v8.

    However CRTs are not one of them. They use electricity like its going out of fashion, use a huge amount of resources to build, really

    "large" ones, > 20 inches, literally weigh the same as a large child or small woman and the out-of-the-corner-of-your-eye flicker on

    even 100hz models becomes seriously unpleasent after more than a few hours - ie standard office usage.

    Bye bye CRTs, you won't be missed.

    1. Ogi

      Re: I don't need retro effects

      I miss the colour rendering, and the contrast. A friend has an old Triniton CRT that sits in his attic, connected to a KVM if he has to debug one of his servers. It spends 99% of its retirement off, however when I have used it I am always amazed at how great the colours are, and how deep the blacks are.

      The only modern screens I have seen that come close now, many decades later, are OLED panels, and I have yet to see one larger than phone size, or one that will last decades without degradation (AFAIK current OLEDs degrade with time, even if unused).

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: I don't need retro effects

        Indeed, old black and white transfers of wiped colour TV broadcasts, if made without a suitable notch filter, retained artefact allowing the recovery of a chroma signal. The intrinsic properties of colour CRT and their analog waveforms allowed this trickery to take place. Some things really are better than modern stuff

      2. Paradroid

        Re: I don't need retro effects


        Have you seen how excited the Digital Foundry guys are getting now they've remembered that instead of needing a monster graphics card to render games in 4k, they can get a better result running them at 1080p or even 720p on a CRT, relying on the CRT to do nice anti-aliasing naturally. And of course, they can max out the graphics settings running at low resolutions. And fast motion always looked better on CRT.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I don't need retro effects

      "[...] really "large" ones, > 20 inches, literally weigh the same as a large child [...]"

      My Iiyama 21" CRT took two people to position it on an IKEA "Sten" unit shelf. Those were the "garage" unit shelves advertised stacked with things like car batteries or car wheels. When the CRT was eventually given away the shelf had a permanent downward bow in it. It was replaced by an equivalent LCD about 15 years ago - which was incredibly light but noticeably didn't have quite such good image contrast/quality. Quite how that CRT would compare to modern IPS screens is a moot point.

  11. karlkarl Silver badge

    Whats the point?

    Are they trying to make out the command line terminal is an old technology?

    Well... Under that logic, so is a processor...

  12. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    I've got the real thing

    I've got a working green screen monitor attached the a BBC model B and a Microvitec CUB attached to a Master 128, also in full working order :)

    Oh, and I've also got 5.25in floppys and a Cumana 40/80 drive for when I feel like a retro game or two.

    1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: I've got the real thing

      I still regret not grabbing one of the New (Unopened) Old Stock BBC Masters that were found in the bowels of Somerset County Council basements & ended up in the service centre for disposal.

      Purchased for some project, quietly buried in the hope that the unauthorised expenditure\project would never raise its head before someone drew their pension.

    2. Vometia Munro

      Re: I've got the real thing

      I still have a VT320 terminal and a 19" Trinitron for a Vax-based workstation (SPX graphics, so 1280x1024 super-high-res!) though neither have been powered on for some time, in fact quite a few years for the latter as it's such a heavy bugger to move. The Vax also has a couple of expansion cabs with full-height 5¼" hard drives in them just to add to the general "weighty" vibe of the whole thing.

      Would've loved something like your setup back in the day but as a teen the idea of either a BBC Micro *or* floppy drives was utterly pie-in-the-sky! Which is why I ended up with a Dragon (also lurking in the garage with the Vaxes and a couple of BBC Micros purchased many years later) connected to a B&W portable with a tuning knob. It wasn't quite the same.

    3. Martin-73

      Re: I've got the real thing

      Ah, the Microvitec cub monitors.,.. So modern looking!

      Our school's complement of BBC's had one or 2 with cubs, and the rest had some horrible 70s looking monitors that the CS teacher lovingly called 'awful 1980 tv sets with the tuner missing' (I think they were based on the ferguson TX)

      Scoring one of the cubs was a benefit of being early to the lesson

      1. Vometia Munro

        Re: I've got the real thing

        "awful 1980 tv sets with the tuner missing"

        Wasn't that Tandy's approach to a computer monitor?

        I remember a similar rush to get access to The Big PET at school: in hindsight I have no idea if it was a higher-spec than the others but it had a bigger screen which though still monochrome was more desirable. Because it was bigger.

        We didn't have much in the way of computers, just three PETs and a 380Z that used to roam around the science labs on a trolley with the huge* colour telly that was usually already preoccupied showing videos. Some of the latter were relevant, others were Michael Jackson's Thriller, for some reason.

        * Probably 24" or something: insanely gigantic, anyway, we've never seen its like since.

        1. Martin-73

          Re: I've got the real thing

          I didn't like PETs because of the godawful 'we made this at home' keyboard.

          the beebs had a dream of a keyboard. I seem to remember something about the keyshape being based around circles rather than something else...

          1. Vometia Munro

            Re: I've got the real thing

            Oh yeah, the original PET's "electronic till" keyboard was not awesome. Ours were more conventional, somewhat similar to the VIC-20/C64 though with different symbols and profile compared to what I recall of their smaller siblings.

            I think most BBC Micros used the Futaba keys. They're the ones I prefer, anyway; nice linear clacky action. Actually I preferred the Electron's keys (same as the Master IIRC) but they apparently have some issues with longevity. That said, my Electron died before its keyboard did. I recall there was a great deal of snobbery about keyboard types back in the day with the Dragon's being lambasted in comparison, but having tried out both more recently I honestly can't tell much difference at all between the BBC's Futabas and the Dragon's Hi-Teks. The BBC had a nicer key profile (which nobody mentioned; and is a very subjective matter anyway, both having good quality keys especially compared to most of today's offerings) and a more comprehensive layout, which again (almost) nobody mentioned, curiously...

            I find that the contemporary Cherry MX Red switches have a not entirely dissimilar feel and sound but I prefer them with "retro" key-caps: the old-style spherical (i.e. bowl-shaped) keys are nicer IMHO than the cylindrical profile which has been pretty much the standard since the IBM PC happened. I'm slightly loath to make glowing comments about Cherry MX keys which is entirely based on my hatred of their tactile switches, which seems a bit unfair and probably slightly silly.

    4. TRT Silver badge

      Re: I've got the real thing

      Ah, somewhere else on here I posted a happening about magnetic interference between a Commodore 1080S and an IBM 5154 monitor. The system as originally designed made use of a Microvitec CUB on the Commodore side. There was no magnetic interference from that screen! Unfortunately one beam channel failed on it and that's when we bought the 1080S.

  13. vincent himpe

    2020 : 4K displays with emulated scanlines

    beam me up , there is no intelligent life here

  14. Mike 137 Silver badge

    "With Windows 7 emitting its last death rattles ..."

    It isn't expiring naturally - it's being executed for purely mercenary reasons.

    Win 7 was the last Miroshaft offering that was operable almost entirely as the user desired, and there was nothing fundamentally wrong with it technologically. Everything since has been a mere consumer portal for "value add" service streams and snooping.

    The pernicious myth that computers are "white goods" that need no understanding to operate has been strongly reinforced by successive OS versions (Linux included), but it both leaves the user entirely at the mercy (or lack of it) of the vendor, and it also limits the pool of talent from which successive OS creators can be drawn. There is already evidence that the latter is adversely affecting the quality of the products.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    *loud clear voice*

    "MICROSOFT! Look at me, no not over there, at me. Concentrate on my fingers, you there? Now listen carefully. You have to concentrate on making sure Windows is not a steaming bolted together crap-bucket of code, OK? You need to work on getting the old cruddy 32bit junk out. No, I never said it would be easy and you might have to go a bit...Oi listening to me! You might have to go a bit Apple and piss a lot of people off to get it done, cutting stuff out but you'll feel better for it. Too many people expect you keep spoonfeeding them by supporting old crud, nice stuff like Powershell and .Net are great but having PS still able to tap into Win32 API, come on! If you going to head into the 21st Century properly you don't need all that 1980 and 1990s crud holding you back. Got it? Right, off you go then."

  16. solv

    I've Had CRT effects for years

    As per usual, linux has had retro terminal available for like 10 years. It used to be called 'cool-old-term' but is now 'cool-retro-term'.

    Emulates various monitors, colours such as amber and green, apple II, IBM 3278 has scanlines ec etc.

    I thought it was cool for a while, and then realised it was actually less efficient than something like guake/yakuake and haven't used it for a few years now.

    But of course no mention of anything like this in any of the articles going around the net...apparently tech editors/journalists still live in their Windows World bubbles

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