back to article Microsoft announces official Windows package manager. 'Not a package manager' users snap back

Microsoft has said it will push out a new package manager - now in preview - that sounds useful but raises some awkward questions and issues. Announced at the (virtual) Build conference under way now, the imaginatively named Windows Package Manager is for installing applications, rather than components for developers, for …

  1. wallyhall

    One software manager to rule them all!

    Oblig. xkcd references... https://xkcd.com/1654/ and https://xkcd.com/927/

    I'd like to see Microsoft improve on chocolatey, if they insist on doing it themselves.

    Chocolatey was a revelation for me, coming from a yum/apt background.

    If I understand correctly, historically Windows has taken a slightly more MacOS-esq approach of assuming apps will redundantly install various versioned copies of libraries in their local Program Data (or .App) directories - rather than orchestrating shared ones (which bigger Linux distributions have the luxury of being able to coordinate. Would that make this more of an MSI-on-steroids rather than a "traditional package manager"?

    But if it comes pre-installed, is GPO friendly, and allows securely and reliably pulling things like Notepad3 and Chrome from their respective github/3rd party mirror locations - I'm up for giving it a go...

    1. bazza Silver badge

      Re: One software manager to rule them all!

      If I understand correctly, historically Windows has taken a slightly more MacOS-esq approach of assuming apps will redundantly install various versioned copies of libraries in their local Program Data (or .App) directories - rather than orchestrating shared ones (which bigger Linux distributions have the luxury of being able to coordinate. Would that make this more of an MSI-on-steroids rather than a "traditional package manager"?

      Not sure myself yet.

      One of the things I dislike about the way it's done on Linux is that it places a heavy emphasis on a distro adopting a piece of OSS software and including it in their repositories. Ok, for the able Penguinista it's perhaps not so difficult to use cmake or, heaven forbid, ./configure to build from source. But it's at that point where you've pretty much lost the un-*nix-savvy user. Even if a software developer chooses to go to all the phaff of maintaining packages for all the myriad different systems out there, it's still beyond the un-*nix-savvy user to add the software developer's repos to their apt, or yum, or dnf, or snap, etc setup.

      The duplication of libraries thing: in my view its swings and roundabouts. Just this afternoon I've been needing an older version of the lexxer generator Flex. And, with Ubuntu / apt, finding and installing an older package version is an absolute nuissance. Microsoft's way does at least make this kind of thing totally trivial; you just uninstall the new version (though even that's not totally necessary, it's down to the app and how it manages its install), install the old, et voila you're off and away.

      Also, with a large distro-centric package repository there's a need for each and every application within it to be built against the versions of libraries that are chosen for it. This has never been achieved 100%; dig around in some of the more obscure corners of a repo and its generally quite easy to find something that, though all dependencies are claimed to have been met, has been packaged up with the wrong dependencies for that particular version of the app.

      Also, I'm just not convinced that storage is, generally speaking, sufficiently scarce to warrant a package management system that strives to ensure that the bare minimum of space is taken up by shared libraries. It's not exactly resulting in a modern full-fat Linux distro being anything less than a few GB installed. With a lot of software these days what takes up space is all the pretty bits - bitmaps and such - and they're generally not shared between applications anyway. Mass market IoT stuff in priinciple benefits on price from efficient use of storage space, but then again how much of that stuff is actually updated ever, anyway?

      Anyway, it's sounding like MS have realised that getting rid of application installers ("Use the MS Store") was a bad idea, and is undoing that somewhat. Good.

      1. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: One software manager to rule them all!

        Shared libraries are not about minimising disk space.

        When a vulnerability is discovered in a library (say, jpeg parsing) you can update that library once and be done rather than having to wait for every app vendor to update their app and then installing each and every one of those. Better not miss one or you'll still be vulnerable.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: One software manager to rule them all!

          One common library means one-fix fixes all but also one-break will bork your entire system.

          DotNet favours an isolated deployment model these days over it's earlier preference to rely on common and system libraries and the whole world is rapidly moving to containerisation on portability.

          Swings 'n' roundabouts.

          1. AMBxx Silver badge

            Re: One software manager to rule them all!

            The pendulum swings one way, then back again.

            Remember dll Hell?

          2. s2bu

            Re: One software manager to rule them all!

            That's why devs are supposed to bump the major soversion when they break the ABI. That way you can have both versions installed in parallel and NOT break things!

          3. teknopaul Silver badge

            Re: One software manager to rule them all!

            Dev workstations typically have a ton of tools installed that interact. As well as libs, tools have to play together nicely and access the same filesystem. It makes sense to tackle desktop app compatability and lib compatability with the same approach.

            Server deployments have different challenges.

            Despite theoretically risking a bork of more than one app, package mangement in all the distros I have ever tried works very well.

            This tool looks lame to me. It does not look like they understood the problem.

            I suspect users would prefer a tool that lets them decide when to

            windows update && windows upgrade

    2. logicalextreme Bronze badge

      Re: One software manager to rule them all!

      I've given Chocolatey a go every year or so for the past few years, and have usually found that there's enough missing from it for it to not be worth the time, and that what is on it can be infuriatingly out of date (think trying to use Debian's without backports when you're used to being nearer the bleeding edge). I love that it exists and I want it to work, but I also don't want to have to remember which software's being actively maintained on it and which I have to do manually — it's somewhat easier (for me) to just do it all manually.

      I kind of assumed Microsoft would have done this, or acquired Chocolatey, a couple of years after it appeared, because I figured an "official" channel for such a thing would make it more appealing to some software makers.

      I'm certainly up for giving it a go, but as the article says — neither of them are really package managers. Package managers manage dependencies and security updates and can go all the way to the kernel; whereas Windows software installations tend to be isolated beasts that will more often than not tell you there's an update next time you open them (or scream at you from the systray, if they're Java or Adobe and you've let them).

      It'll be interesting to see whether this new thing manifests itself in appwiz.cpl, GPO, the unusable new settings interface, the Windows Store, a new unbidden component or some unholy union of ≥2 of the above.

      1. NATTtrash Silver badge
        Paris Hilton

        Re: One software manager to rule them all!

        ...neither of them are really package managers. Package managers manage dependencies and security updates and can go all the way to the kernel; whereas Windows software installations...

        Indeed. And looking at the packages that are in there... Am I the only one who sees the letters L---E---E---C---H flashing? I know that this is no doubt my rancorous mind, but it is/ was very popular for Windows users to defer *nix arguments "as cheap arse". Remember, that was most of the time right after the "cancer" reference?

        Well, if I look at what's in there, that "you're cheap" argument seems out of the window. Or is MS going to pay the devs of that FOSS? Would be delighted to see MS support the development of LibreOffice. And I'm sure that Adobe is just salivating to contribute to Gimp development. My personal expectation is that hell will freeze over first before those contributions come in, but then again, stranger things have happens (e.g. Linux kernel in W10 and MS loving it!)

    3. logicalextreme Bronze badge

      Re: One software manager to rule them all!

      I was reminded as I typed that that I can type a ≥ symbol on my phone with three presses, whereas in Windows out-of-the-box I need to either Google "greater than equal" and copy and paste, or surrender myself to charmap, because it's not something I type often enough to warrant learning the Alt code for.

      Yet I can bring up an emoji selector with Win + . — I think I'd rather have a decent character input component than a software updater given that it's now 2020.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: One software manager to rule them all!

        So they now have a crappy package downloader to match the crappy char selector = progress

      2. srochford46

        Re: One software manager to rule them all!

        The emoji thing also lets you enter maths symbols and much more (including ≥ ≤)

        For maths, click the Ω at the top then the ∞ at the bottom and you'll find them there.

        1. G Olson

          Re: One software manager to rule them all!

          Click here click there? What ever happened to math symbols as a two keypress operation. I don't have a third hand for mousing around while typing.

          1. Dave559 Bronze badge

            Re: One software manager to rule them all!

            The fact that Windows doesn't support the concept of a "compose key" out of the box for typing special characters easily is just ridiculous. It's such a useful feature on unix (along with mouse select/paste, of course).

            1. ovation1357 Bronze badge

              Re: One software manager to rule them all!

              Exactly! The compose key is amazing and would have made my life so much easier back when I was learning German but using a (British) English keyboard.

              But the auto-copy clipboard and middle-click paste available in X-Windows on just about any Unix as well as Linux is such a crucial feature in my daily workflow that I really can't work without it. I'm forced to use Windows for some tasks whereby I find myself cursing because I forgot to press ctrl+c and I ended up replacing macOS with Ubuntu on my Mac Mini at work because there was no way to satisfactorily emulate this feature (plus the fact that official Apple keyboards are horrid and a Mac simply cannot natively map a "PC" keyboard despite claiming to support it).

              So it's definitely a yay for 'mouse select/paste' and yay for the compose key from me!

        2. logicalextreme Bronze badge

          Re: One software manager to rule them all!

          Hey, thanks for pointing that out! I hadn't even spotted the omega.

          Hopefully they'll improve it at some point, because…

          A little picture of a hotdog took me: Win+. / hotd / Enter / Esc; whereas

          ≥ took me: Win+. / Shift+Tab / Left Arrow / Enter / Shift+Tab / Right Arrow / Right Arrow / Right Arrow / Right Arrow / Enter / Shift+Tab / Down Arrow / Down Arrow / Down Arrow / Down Arrow / Down Arrow / Down Arrow / Down Arrow / Down Arrow / Down Arrow / Down Arrow / Down Arrow / Down Arrow / Down Arrow / Down Arrow / Down Arrow / Down Arrow / Down Arrow / Down Arrow / Down Arrow / Down Arrow / Down Arrow / Right Arrow / Right Arrow / Right Arrow / Right Arrow / Right Arrow / Enter / Esc; which is precisely thirty-seven more keydown events than I think are necessary.

          Having to hit the Escape key aside (the search function can't be reset without doing this), it'd be nice to be able to type >= and have it find it. For now, Googling's probably quicker for most of that stuff. I'll try to remember to use it though and get some symbols into the history section for future use.

    4. fidodogbreath Silver badge

      Re: One software manager to rule them all!

      Yet we'll still need Powershell scripts to "manage" useless W10 crApps like Xbox that can't be removed through the normal UI.

      1. logicalextreme Bronze badge

        Re: One software manager to rule them all!

        I've actually discovered that the "Xbox Game Bar", despite me not asking for it to be here, has a not-too-shabby screen recorder built into it that can record only the active window and other such useful stuff. Sometimes, just sometimes, a thing that you want is already in Windows (especially since 10, when they caught onto such "modern" "wonders" as multiple desktops, and various other stuff we'd all been using third-party tools to accomplish).

        Now if only the Snip & Sketch tool didn't utterly torpedo the window manager for my session necessitating a reboot whenever I used it to take a sectional screenshot.

  2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
    Boffin

    Why not use an existing Package Manager?

    Are you mad?

    You WILL do things the Microsoft way or not at all. That is the Microsoft Way, the world masters of NIH.

    Oh, and they'll change the package format with each and every update. /s /s /s

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Why not use an existing Package Manager?

      You mean The Microsoft Ways... Windows Update, Software Center, Microsoft Store, this new package manager...

    2. Dave559 Bronze badge

      Re: Why not use an existing Package Manager?

      NIH also sounds like the sort of name they'd give this newly spawned creation: New Installer Hive, or something equally baroque…

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yet more proof that MS invent nothing, perhaps it is time to start doing unto MS what they did to their competition?

    1. LucreLout Silver badge

      Yet more proof that MS invent nothing, perhaps it is time to start doing unto MS what they did to their competition?

      They have no competition. I mean, sure, there's Amazon in the cloud, and Google for search, but outside of AWS and Google search there's no competition for MS anymore. Oracle is dying and almost dead, Sun are dead, IBM are.... whatever the hell IBM are now. Who really is there?

      Linux & iOS will never be real competition for the desktop. Open Office has been around for decades and is no competition for Office. Java is toast and hasn't been competition for .NET for at least 15 years now. All the various flavours of IntelliJ/Rider etc are no real competition for Visual Studio.

      Whatever your views on their corporate behaviour, they've won. There's nobody left standing to do a damn thing to them. The entire ABM war is lost.... there's just a few troops out in the jungle not realised the war ended a long time ago.

      1. Robert Grant Silver badge

        Apple forking LibreOffice (or donating loads of dev time to it) would be an interesting move.

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Why? They've already got iWork.

          1. Dave559 Bronze badge

            iWork documents aren't usable outside the Mac/iOS sphere, so they're even worse vendor lock-in formats than those ones that don't really properly conform to an international standard, despite their claims.

            1. Dan 55 Silver badge

              There is an export option.

          2. autisticatheist
            FAIL

            iWork is utter crap compared to LibreOffice.

            1. Dan 55 Silver badge
              Gimp

              iWork might not be that good, but is there anything that isn't a fact in what I wrote?

              Apple committing code to a free open-source cross-platform competitor is just not going to happen, they have their own Office suite, they don't have to answer to anyone about how they develop it which suits them just fine, and their committing code to LibreOffice will probably push the project in directions that people don't like.

              This does not mean I hate LibreOffice, I use LibreOffice, iWork, and I also use MS Office. I don't use OpenOffice if that makes you feel any better.

            2. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

              iWork is utter crap compared to LibreOffice.

              I've used both iWork and LibreOffice. Sure, iWork doesn't necesarily have the same depth of features as LibreOffice, but I think the UI is better for the simple use cases. And if you're storing your documets in iCloud, then the seemless transition between MacOS and iOS for editing your documents (and the iOS apps are quite good) is very useful.

              Do I use iWork as my primary office suite? No. My go-to office suite is LibreOffice - but I'll fire up iWork some tasks.

      2. ovation1357 Bronze badge

        I think you're vastly underestimating just how alive some of these competitors are.

        Sun is sadly dead - I'll agree with that one as I was an employee during its demise. As much as I'd like Oracle to be dead, it still seems to be hanging in there.

        And as for Java Vs .NET I think you're seriously underestimating how active it still is. I'll agree that .NET is pretty popular and I also have to admit that C# is pretty nice to write although I never understood why folks got so animated about Visual Studio - for me (and we're talking 5 years ago) it was a pain in the ass. My next project was in Java and whilst the language felt like a step backwards, IntelliJ was a real breath of fresh air. For starters its integration with git was hugely superior to VS2013 which was still wedded to TFS and had shockingly bad git features but also, aside from working really well and having a useful feature set, I was able to configure it exactly the way I wanted to; a very sore point with my general experience of Microsoft - you do it their way and if you'd don't like it, well tough!

        Anyway - Java is still massive in many industries and is unlikely to be going anywhere soon.

        I think you could argue that if you're dealing with a Microsoft 'shop' then Visual Studio has no real competitors, but when you're dealing with the server market where Linux is pretty much the king then Devs will use anything from vim to atom to intelliJ (maybe even VS Code) and there's not a hint of Visual Studio nor .NET anywhere to be seen.

      3. teknopaul Silver badge

        I spend so little time in office apps.

        Word was replaced by emails and wikis years ago.

        I never format and print docs.

        Markdown makes the tool I'm using irrelavent.

        True there is no competition but if word, powerpoint, excel, and access all died tomorrow I would not be impacted in the slightest.

        I'd fire up my browser.

  4. Tom 38 Silver badge

    WinGet is a response to requests for "the ability to script what is required to setup a developer machines"

    So, Ansible, but Invented Here.

  5. bazza Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Cough, Splutter, Gasp

    From the article:

    Among the best features of Linux is the availability of package managers, such as Debian's Apt, that can install, remove and manage dependencies for applications from the command line.

    Also among the very worst features of Linux distros is the availability of FAR TOO MANY DIFFERENT PACKAGE MANAGERS.

    That is all.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Cough, Splutter, Gasp

      "Also among the very worst features of Linux distros is the availability of FAR TOO MANY DIFFERENT PACKAGE MANAGERS."

      Isn't that only an issue if you keep bouncing around from one distro to another? Is it an issue when you settle on and stay with a single distro? Why would you even want to be running multiple distro? Is there any benefit to running multiple distros?

      1. Palpy

        Re: More than one distro?

        Guilty of that, myself. Unconcerned about it, though. Manjaro, Mint, Ubuntu Studio, Q4OS, Kodachi. I think I have Parrot on a thumb drive somewhere too, and probably Puppy. Oh, and Qubes. Fergodsake.

        Different GUIs, different repos, different -- well, strengths and weaknesses. Not all applications are available or up-to-date in all possible repos. You can (almost) always find a way to install or build an application in Arch or Debian or Slack, but how much time do you want to spend and how much trouble do you want to take?

        Personally, I like variety. Keeps an old man young.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: More than one distro?

          Same here.. Ubuntu with apt, alpine with apk, arch with pacman. Alpine is my favourite, I love its simplicity, I really enjoy when a system doesn't use a byte too many to do its job :)

          By the way: Arch really makes it easy at the "find a way to install or build". The AUR really shines there.

          1. teknopaul Silver badge

            Re: More than one distro?

            Incidentally pacman runs on windows used by msys2.

            Its great. You still have windows anoyances like line endings, and no root, but development process feel relativly normal. Pacman has lots of common libs and dev packages/headers.

      2. Grogan

        Re: Cough, Splutter, Gasp

        "Why would you even want to be running multiple distro? Is there any benefit to running multiple distros?"

        There are a few reasons I do.

        1) I always have two Linux systems on the same machine, so I can boot to one to work on (or fix, or make a tarball backup of) the other.

        2) I like to have a lean, clean, serious Linux system and another with a lot more crap (e.g. multilib) for goofing around and games. It used to be that I kept a Windows installation for games, but now I boot to another Linux system :-)

    2. Grogan

      Re: Cough, Splutter, Gasp

      Most "package managers" are just different front ends to the same package management system, that use the same repositories and package databases.

      Even across different distros, the same or similar (familiar) front ends can often be used. For example "Synaptic" can be a front end for both dpkg (.deb) or rpm based distributions. There's even an "apt-rpm"

      ... and no, we're not going to homogenize everything because Windows converts can't wrap their heads around it. Choice is a feature of our environment.

    3. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Re: Cough, Splutter, Gasp

      AFAIK you only have one or occasionally two package managers in Linux distro so what is used elsewhere is irrelevant.

  6. Julian Bradfield

    snap

    "snap" is not the most fortunate word to use in this context ... if it was intentional it causes too much pain :)

  7. J27 Bronze badge

    "Getting to those issues, the first that comes to mind is: why has Microsoft created a new package manager rather than using an existing one?"

    Oh yeah, no one knows why.

    1. teknopaul Silver badge

      The (frankly ridiculous) C:\ D:\ thing made it impossible to install software in the same place. %ProgramFiles% is not reliable enough because installers still ask you on which drive to install.

      I imagine all existing package managers define a root.

      Windows Update predefines storage requirements on C:\, but other apps cant share a common path and use all disk space.

      Its a crazy design flaw really.

      Trivial fix. Define C:\ as /, support symlinks across drives, treat / and \ as path separators.

      I doubt Microsoft would admit unix was right.

      If they did, _all_ package managers would just work.

      Building windows containers would be possible with all package managers.

      You would not need to boot windows and read env vars or the registry to find an existing file or decide where to install a new one.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Windows Update doomed ! :-) Okay, not yet.

    I've been wondering for ages, why Windows Update is such a resource hog, compared to apt/aptitude. So this isn't going away - not mentioned and not even remotely implied. Ahh well.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Windows Update doomed !

      Or should that read "Windows Update, you're doomed, doomed I say"

      Or at least that seems to be the case on my of my laptops these days. The last couple of times it's been struck by the windows updater it updates, it goes down, it comes back up and then it refuses to login. After trying a number of times I end up having to start it booting, wait for the twirly thing, hold down the off button. Repeat enough times for Windows to realise that it's failing and do something about it.

      ARGH!

  9. Paradroid

    They're correct, it isn't a package manager

    Used this lastnight to install PowerToys and it appeared to just download an MSI and run it - the installer was full of popups and UAC.

    Understand that it's beta/preview but it needs a lot of work. The ability to update is critical and I question whether it should have even been let out the lab without that given that updating software is essential for security.

    Heading in the right direction though, I like it.

    1. Zippy´s Sausage Factory

      Re: They're correct, it isn't a package manager

      If it just downloads MSIs then it sounds a lot like the old Windows Platform Installer. Thus reinforcing my long held belief that Micros~1 just likes reinventing the wheel.

  10. Ian Johnston Silver badge

    Among the best features of Linux is the availability of package managers, such as Debian's Apt, that can install, remove and manage dependencies for applications from the command line. It is not perfect – dependency version issues or broken configuration files can be a problem – but most of the time it makes it easy to get what you want, and is scriptable. Many users would like Windows to be equally convenient to use.

    Meanwhile Linux is going in the other direction with abominations like snap (which was using 1.5GB on my system to support one small program) and .appimage files which make updating a nightmare.

    1. The Central Scrutinizer

      Snap.... gag. Tried it and spat it out.

      1. conscience

        I couldn't agree more. My boot time more than doubled with just a few snap applications. Naturally I nuked it from orbit, removing not only the applications but also totally getting rid of the Snap functionality from my system. Boot time is now back to what it should be.

        It was an interesting idea, but not when it is done as badly as this.

        1. cambsukguy

          Who boots a computer these days?

          My laptop wakes from standby in about 1 second, not exactly snappy but I can live with it.

          I reboot on occasion, it happens about one a month and takes about 10 seconds. My browser re-instates all previous pages in (maybe) 2 seconds of the first click.

          But then, I am running a 6-yr-old laptop with a tiny SSD (and large HDD). Perhaps it is because it is Windows 10 and (new) Edge?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Who boots a computer these days?

            Anyone who has an enterprise computer where the BOFHs delight in pushing out updates to machines with a reboot afterwards just to make sure.

        2. Teiwaz Silver badge

          It was an interesting idea, but not when it is done as badly as this.

          Snaps are great if you absolutely need a particular app that'll only run on a set of libs that are a different version than your distro repo.

          1. conscience

            Teiwaz: - "Snaps are great if you absolutely need a particular app that'll only run on a set of libs that are a different version than your distro repo."

            Is this a situation you find yourself in often? I get the point, but currently Snaps are miles away from ready for main stream use. I just don't like them because there are too many compromises involved.

            In my admittedly limited experience with them I find them too big and too slow and I have had nothing but trouble with them whenever I've used them.

            For instance, do they all need automatically mounting at every boot? Automatic mounting/unmounting when the Snap application is opened and closed would be far better, or at least an on/off switch for each Snap application so they can be activated as required. My boot time had shot up and when I analysed why it turned out I was waiting for the Snap files to be mounted. Needlessly extending boot time is unacceptable.

            I also don't like the fact that it's possible to accidentally install Snaps rather than the regular version of the software. They need very clearly marking, in the application name/title perhaps, and putting in another section of the repo. There should also be a filter so you can exclude them from the repo if required. I have unknowingly installed several of these Snaps rather than the regular version of the software, and even worse I ended up with software from an unknown uploader rather than from the original developers whom I trust. It was my own fault, sure, I just quickly clicked on software I'd used before without reading the details, but I didn't think I had to. Now I am far more cautious in the repo than before just to avoid the Snap applications.

            The most damning part is what made me first notice that I'd got any Snap applications installed: they don't work properly. I was having issues with applications that usually work perfectly well so I investigated why and found they were Snaps. I don't recall offhand what the apps/issues were as it was a while ago, but they were issues that all suddenly went away when I downloaded the non-Snap versions of the same software.

            At best, I see Snaps as a very temporary solution to do a one-off job before it gets removed again afterwards. For more regular use then a VM or even a collection of libs to build against might be preferable (like Valve do with the Steam runtime).

        3. teknopaul Silver badge

          Ooh I didnt know you could do that.

          Thats up ther with apt erase netplan

          and replacing systemd in Ubuntu.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Indeed! I used to be an Ubuntu fan but they're too heavy on the 'snap' sauce now for my liking. I can see the appeal especially for big commercial package developers that want to provide generic Linux packages. Something like MS Office, or Spotify, that would be a good usecase. I don't like it used for every little thing like they do now. Even small commandline tools with no dependencies are snapped..

        In my opinion it just hides the shared library hell into different containers, it doesn't really solve anything but it creates a lot more waste by having to have many different versions around, so the shared memory can't do its job properly. And it isn't great for security: Instead of updating a vulnerable libssl once and patching every app that uses it, you now have to rely on each snap maintainer to do it. Sure, the sandboxing adds a bit of security but there's other ways to achieve that, like AppArmor or SELinux.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yep. I installed most of my software from Ubuntu's software center, and discovered that a few never seemed to work right. GIMP couldn't see my scanner, other software would never come up, etc. The one thing they all had in common was they were "snaps". Uninstalled all snaps and installed the real versions - worked fine.

      I like the concept of snaps, but the implementation has a long way to go.

  11. poohbear

    "Microsoft has reinforced its relatively newfound love for the command line" ... having completely forgotten its first love, MS-DOS...

  12. Uncle Ron

    Junk

    Junk.

  13. Buzzword

    What about the Microsoft Store?!?!

    Windows already has a tool for installing pre-packaged apps: the Microsoft Store. Sure, it sucks; but why not improve it rather than inventing a whole new tool?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What about the Microsoft Store?!?!

      What about Win10's Software Center? On my w*rk machine, it does seem to keep things up to date... when it isn't taking forever to load, or closing itself a few seconds after loading.

      1. Strahd Ivarius Bronze badge

        Re: What about the Microsoft Store?!?!

        You are speaking of a managed environment, where someone (not you) is packaging applications for automated distribution, as well as managing updates (for the OS and the applications).

        Not something you'll be able to setup yourself.

        (although you can try alternatives, some have free versions for a limited number of computers)

  14. Someone Else Silver badge
    Facepalm

    What we have here, is a failure....

    Actually, it probably isn't a failure, from the Microsoft point of view. It is, rather, yet another example of the Embrace, Extend, Extinguish thought pattern that is still apparently endemic there. This, coupled with a healthy (?) dose of NIH syndrome, and their inability to get anything right the first (or second) time, seems to be driving this "effort".

    Serving the users? Yeah, we've heard of it...is that really a thing?

  15. Elledan Bronze badge

    Pacman

    As a software developer who mostly uses Windows, I have found the pacman package manager (same as in Arch/Manjaro Linux) to be exceedingly useful. Together with the MSYS2 environment, one gets a Linux-like environment, access to a package manager that makes installing and managing libraries, tools and other dependencies as easy as on Linux.

    As a bonus, this approach allows me to use the same shell scripts and build tools across Windows, Linux, BSD and other platforms with minimal effort. Not something that can be said for using the prescribed Microsoft Way (tm), I'm sure.

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: Pacman

      MSYS2

      As an archlinux user, brings a tear to the eye.

      1. Elledan Bronze badge

        Re: Pacman

        As an MSYS2 and formerly mostly Ubuntu user, I can say that using the former has made my introduction to Manjaro infinitely easier and more pleasant. Takes a bit to learn the pacman vocabulary, but now I can confidently -Syu and -Ss my way to victory :)

        Makes me really glad that MSYS2 went with a sane, existing package manager instead of rolling their own.

        *eyes Microsoft askance*

  16. rwill2

    Ubuntu Shell Vs PowerShell Views

    Always hated PowerShell and since I've installed the Ubuntu Shell I don't see the point of powershell is you are a developer, data scientist, or big data engineer.

    Maybe only if you are an Admin setting up Windows decktops/laptops only.

    But seriously why would you use PowerShell/Windows as containers, servers, micrservices, or IoT ... makes no sense LINUX Bash rulz and so many patterns and examples out there!

  17. bpfh Silver badge

    A long long time ago...

    In a job far away... I remember packaging up standard installers into the Windows 2000 beta for remote deployment / scripted install for part of the Windows 2K Micros~1 Administrator certification. That was 21 years ago. Are MS reinventing the wheel? Again?

    1. Someone Else Silver badge

      Re: A long long time ago...

      Yes.

      Next Question?

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that at best that’s currently a package installer. I ’m not sure you can call it a package manager if it doesn’t actually manage installed packages?

  19. Tom Paine Silver badge
    FAIL

    "Still to come..."

    the current preview is limited to installation; it does not even have a remove option for packages. It does not auto-update packages or even have any mechanism to update them, and there is no specific dependency management.

    Oh, come ON, Microsoft - pulling this sort of nonsense, presumably in the name of agile, is getting silly now. This is pre-alpha. "As a Windows users, I need to be able to update packages". A package maager that can't update or uninstall isn't a usable package manager, any more than an aeroplane that can take off but can't land except in a ball of flames isn't really ready to fly. Neither is this.

  20. A random security guy Bronze badge

    Because they are MS they will prevail

    They are Microsoft. Whatever broken system MS comes out with, it will prevail. That is how MS has always operated. It starts killing the competition right away by putting a question mark regarding the viability of their competitors‘ product life.

    So familiar:

    Find a popular product space.

    Make a Badly implemented competing product

    Rinse and repeat.

    My bet is cc that they also talked to all the companies with the professed intention of acquiring them and then, after learning everything from them including their revenue model, dumped them and started a project with the same PM who ran the evaluation game.

  21. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Not a package manager

    They are 100% right, an app that runs installers is in not a package manager.

    That said, it's one of those "release as early as possible so people can see what we are working on" types of situations, so I do assume eventually this will become at least closer to a package manager. I'm not a Microsoft fan but I won't rag on stuff that is in preview or prerelease (as long as they don't start abusing it by keeping apps in permanent "preview" status, which so far they haven't.)

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