back to article Microsoft floats bringing a text editor back to the CLI

Microsoft is considering adding a text editor back into the command line world, thus risking some heated discussions on the subject. Connor Plante, a Microsoft product manager, began a discussion regarding the feature in GitHub last week. Plante asked if users would even want such a thing if they are using a Command Line …

  1. katrinab Silver badge

    The answer to Emacs or Vim, I think, is No.

    Nano is GPL which I think rules it out for the base image of Windows. Same applies for that matter to Emacs. Vim has its own licence, which appears to be a GPL-compatible copyleft licence.

    So either Pico, or Edit. I don't think there was anything particularly wrong with Edit.

    1. juice

      > The answer to Emacs or Vim, I think, is No.

      Tch. Vi is the One True Editor! Though I can imagine the carnage if a bunch of unsuspecting techies were presented with in a Windows CLI...

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        I think you misspelled 'ed'

        1. shazapont


          I think you misspelled ’em’


          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: Emmmmmm

            Even I'm not old enough to remember a world pre-ed

      2. katrinab Silver badge

        winget install vim.vim, or neovim.neovim; if you are that-way inclined.

        winget install GNU.Emacs if you are the other-way inclined.

        I just don't think either should be the default.

      3. Steve Channell

        there 's a reason Vi and Violate start the same

        It won't be emacs because every tool that ships with Windows has to be "supportable" by micrsofties.

        It's likely to be something like PowerShell ISE

        1. Michael Strorm Silver badge

          The old ones are the best :-)

          And also because Emacs would put Windows out of a job, as it's almost a complete OS in itself.

          In fact, the only thing missing from Emacs is a decent text editor.

        2. Zippy´s Sausage Factory

          Re: there 's a reason Vi and Violate start the same

          PowerShell ISE? I think I just did a mini-sick in my mouth.

      4. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

        CLI editor

        "Ed is the standard editor."

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: CLI editor

          Yeah, but he's usually busy.

      5. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Though I can imagine the carnage if a bunch of unsuspecting techies were presented with in a Windows CLI..

        Our server techies use it all the time at work - a lot of the more arcane stuff (like Exchange back end stuff) can only be done using Powershell. So they do a fair bit of training on using CLI tools.

      6. adam 40 Silver badge

        Vi(m) is hardwired into my brain

        and it follows me whereever I go, be it linux, android, DOS, whereever.


      7. Agamemnon

        From SiliValley here and raised on VIM. Tho my understanding is that Windows has bash now and vim. I could be talking out my ass about the Vi tho. VIM for heavy lifting and nano works just fine for a quick edit 90% of the time.. I like the Nano (Pico, whichever ... I use AlPine, idea, it's easy enough..

        As for Windows, I thought everyone used Notepad++.

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Nano, the editor that snatches defeat from the jaws of victory with commands like Write Out (CTRL-O) and Where Is (CTRL-W) and God knows what for copy/paste. If I have to put up with that kind of nonsense I might as well still stick with vim which has already bludgeoned its way into my muscle memory and at least has fairly powerful commands.

    3. captain veg Silver badge

      Re: I don't think there was anything particularly wrong with Edit.

      I used it a lot back in the days of DOS. It was fine.

      It was also part of QBasic, so they would have to port that too, or perform surgery.


      1. PRR Silver badge

        Re: I don't think there was anything particularly wrong with Edit.

        > ....back in the days of DOS. It was fine. It was also part of QBasic, so they would have to port that too, or perform surgery.

        Surgery already done, Win95. But apparently not ported past 16-bit.

        "The Editor version 2.0 appeared with Windows 95, as standalone app that no longer requires QBasic. This version has been included with all "x86" SKUs of Windows, until Windows 11. Being a 16-bit DOS app, it does not directly run on x64, IA-64, or ARM64 versions of Windows." link

    4. Rich 2 Silver badge

      “Vim has its own licence, which appears to be a GPL-compatible copyleft licence.”

      I’m pretty sure the vim licence is not insidiously viral like GPL. Every OS in the world (I’m excluding little kernels and things for embedded processors etc) seems to include it in one form or another

      1. Michael Hoffmann Silver badge


        ... by the Power of the Internet:

        Seems to be a home-spun license derived from I don't know what, but very generous as to distribution: include LICENSE text and if you provide it with your platform/OS/service/app, provide contact info so that YOU get contacted for support and not the Vim authors.

        1. R Soul Silver badge

          Re: Behold...

          Contacting Bram Molenaar, the Vim author isn't an option. He died recently.

          Mind you, there's very little difference between someone who's dead and Microsoft Customer Support.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Behold...

            At least dead people don't tell you something that is wrong

    5. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      "Nano is GPL which I think rules it out for the base image of Windows."

      They could write their own editor that behaves *exactly* like nano (to save us all having to learn yet another pesky editor) and that wouldn't violate any licence.

      1. Vincent Manis

        Just as nano is imitation pico.

        I have my strong preferences regarding text editors, but find the Editor Wars tiresome. Whatever MS does will be liked by some and hated by others. People who don't like their choice can install their own. There is nothing more to say.

      2. Law

        Guess I'll just wait for VSNano to appear suddenly and without warning...

    6. Blackjack Silver badge

      I miss Edit, it was how I made custom boot floppies for some DOS games.

      1. Guy Geens

        One of my college professors was a hard-core EDIT fan, even in the late 1990s.

        He also refused to move beyond LaTeX 2.09.

        Maybe MS should take a look at Zed:

        1. NickHolland

          isn't it a bit scary when educators refuse to learn new things?

          I've seen it lots of times, myself...

          1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

            Perhaps he was too busy learning new things that actually matter to bother replacing tools that worked.

            I think it's a bit scary when people make sweeping generalizations rather than giving something a bit of thought.

            1. keithpeter Silver badge

              "[...]giving something a bit of thought."


              As to staying on an older version of TeX/LaTeX the thinking has to include the extent to which other people being able to process the .tex files on other systems with different versions(*) is important.

              It may not be important to that particular author. I can imagine that an academic working on, say, a 5 or 10 year book project may wish to standardise on an environment, but that would require cooperation from the publisher.

              (*) TeX itself is standardised but the various packages (and package availability) change with each release of distributions such as texlive.

    7. RAMChYLD

      I'd prefer Pico or Nano. There's already a Win32 build of Pico many moons ago. I fondly remember using it on my Windows 98 PC back in college alongside Pine.

      That said, Nano can be installed by installing the MingW-w64 layer and then doing some fun stuff with your path environmental variable...

    8. John Robson Silver badge

      Why not have them all - oh, because MS wants you to buy an O365 license to edit a text file, carry on.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        >Why not have them all

        Well this comment is interesting:

        "The goal would be to install the selected editor(s) by default such that their commands work out-of-the-box. Example editors include but are not limited to: ..."

        [ ]

        Which would seem to indicate the Windows installer would give options, a bit like the browser selection tool MS bundled with Windows at one stage.

        1. John Robson Silver badge

          Re: >Why not have them all

          Good - the "my editor is better than yours" fights are bad enough as it is.

          I mean the butterfly still wins, but... (/me ducks)

    9. StrangerHereMyself Silver badge

      Why can't GPL software be added to Windows? Isn't Notepad GPL also?

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        It can, along with the much more scary licenses for all the codecs installed.

        This isn't 2000s Microsoft

        You can install the whole of Ubuntu from the Microsoft app store

        1. katrinab Silver badge

          Sure, but if it is in the App Store, it isn't part of Windows.

          Obviously they can, and do, publish the source code for various things on GitHub along with the appropriate notices, and that complies with the GPL. Making it part of the actual operating system, that is a bit more problematic.

    10. Kristian Walsh Silver badge

      GPL isn’t an issue - any editor would be a self-contained binary that would ship with Windows in order to be invoked from the CLI. Dynamic linking against a binary library does not require that library to be GPL-licenced, so it’s fine to link against the MS C runtime library, for instance. As long as Microsoft publishes the modified source of the version of Nano they built, they’re compliant with GPL.

      But really, licensing is not the reason why Nano is a bad idea.... I see someone else has pointed out how antagonistic its keyboard commands are to someone familiar with a system where O means Open, X means cut, and W means Close.

      Vi mightn’t be “friendly” but at least it doesn’t turn your muscle-memory into a weapon against you.

    11. MacroRodent


      Nano is really a GPL re-implementation of pico (which IIRC was under not-quite open license), MS could probably easily reimplement their own. The nano UI has the nice feature that you can use it with zero previous experience, because it always shows the most important commands (of type ctrl-something) at the bottom of the screen. Great if you only need it occasionally.

  2. Alan Bourke


    Pfft, lightweights. I still use COPY CON to this day.

    Want a modern console text editor for Windows?


    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: EDLIN?

      Not a butterfly?

    2. captain veg Silver badge

      Re: EDLIN?

      I prefer ECHO and the > and >> redirection operators.

      Best not to get them mixed up.


    3. Sandtitz Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: EDLIN?

      Micro looks promising, but I'm not giving up on TSE (née Qedit) just yet.

      Easily the best editor since DOS days.

      1. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

        Re: EDLIN?

        Ah, Qedit. Awesome.

      2. Denarius Silver badge

        Re: EDLIN?

        as a vi fan on unices and DOS until 64 bit, I concur that QEdit is a good choice. I think the Religious Wars for the One True Editor are amusing, given it has run for decades. One has to wonder about an editor that spawned a satirical? religion when any competent coder uses what suits them. Please, just not Nano, Pico and the rest. Stick with Command Line Editor of choice.

    4. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: EDLIN?

      I wrote many batch files with Copy Con.

  3. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    Oh how I wish they're replicate the unix shell tab-autocomplete method rather than the brain-damaged Windows way.

    1. Alan Bourke

      What like Powershell's tab autocomplete?

      Or is that different?

      1. collinsl Bronze badge

        Re: What like Powershell's tab autocomplete?

        It's different - in Linux if you double tab it'll list all available options for the partial input you've provided so far, in Windows it cycles through them one at a time and takes bloody ages to compile the list in the first place.

        1. Mr Fix.

          Re: What like Powershell's tab autocomplete?

          ctrl-space does this in powershell.

          1. FIA Silver badge

            Re: What like Powershell's tab autocomplete?

            Hmmmm.... <tappity tap>... Oooo!

            Thank you!

        2. gryphon

          Re: What like Powershell's tab autocomplete?

          That's more or less the way Azure cloud shell works since it's actually a Linux VM with PowerShell sitting on top.

          It's ok'ish for certain things. Poor for others.

          And has an editor built in.

    2. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      This is a shell feature, not a UNIX/Linux feature.

      I'm pretty certain that what you are describing is a Bash feature. While ksh (the most recent 'standard' UNIX shell) does have autocompletion, it works differently still, and depends on whether you are in vi, emacs or gmacs editing mode.

    3. Rich 2 Silver badge

      One of my favourites with any windows shell is the random order it remembers past commands in.

      MS has never had a decent CLI (I think the nearest it got was with DOS 6) so the chances of windowz suddenly spawning a native usable and efficient command line editor are vanishing small

  4. Bitsminer Silver badge


    Enough said.

    1. Michael 66

      Re: TECO!

      "It has been observed that a TECO command sequence more closely resembles transmission line noise than readable text."

      Ed Post

      1. Blue Pumpkin

        Re: TECO!

        Indeed. The TECO parlour game was to type your name at the command prompt and then try and work out what it did to your file ....

  5. andy the pessimist

    vax/vms eve?

    Vi would be easiest for me.

    Emacs is ok

    A blast from the past eve would be nice.

    1. Alan J. Wylie

      Re: vax/vms eve?

      A blast from the past eve would be nice.

      Complete with a free pot of gold paint.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: vax/vms eve?

        Based on TPU... program it yourself...

    2. award

      Re: vax/vms eve?

      I fondly (???) remember switching between using eve on VMS at University, and Wordstar on CP/M in side-line work...

      Deleting lines got interesting at times :-(

      (Delete line in Wordstar was Ctrl-Y, Ctrl-Y on VMS was the interrupt key that generally killed whatever you had running!)

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why not? Even on windows you may still want to nip into a config file every now again without having to go and open it from the window if already in the folder. Same goes for when programming say Python for example if you just want to change one or a few lines you don't want to have to fire up your IDE just for that. Having said that I haven't installed one so I probably don't really need it as most of my python is done in the terminal on Linux (as root because I like to live dangerously).

  7. b0llchit Silver badge

    To paraphrase another computer and OS pusher:

    You are installing it wrong,... if you need an editor.

    Nuff said ;-)

  8. Missing Semicolon Silver badge



    It has zero learning curve, and is good enough for config files and small-to-medium scripts.

    1. Yankee Doodle Doofus Bronze badge

      Re: nano

      Agreed. Nano is my go-to. I've used most of the other popular options at least once, but never put in the time to try to become proficient in any of them. I just occasionally need to edit a config file or script from the CLI, I don't live there.

      1. RAMChYLD

        Re: nano

        Can confirm. Installed MingW-W64 on my PCs just to get Nano.

  9. JoeCool Silver badge


    Edlin was useable but never quirky enough to generate devotion.

    I did appreciate the idea of an embedded facility with _just_ enough functionality to get 80% of jobs done, with 60% programmer satisfaction.

    In that spirit how about a screen editor with basic functionality and personality modes to emulate the supported vim, emacs, notepad. etc. key and command mappings.

    Optionally a plug-in system if customization/specialization is a must have.

    Failing that, MS could win a lot of accolades by partnering with VIM and helping it continue.

    1. Rich 2 Silver badge

      Re: edlin+

      “Failing that, MS could win a lot of accolades by partnering with VIM and helping it continue.”

      Fuck NO!!! Keep MS well away from Vim. Just no. No no no no no

      1. JoeCool Silver badge

        Re: edlin+

        No no no, not like MS partnered with IBM on Lan Manager, or Linux for the last 30 years or TCP/IP in the 80s or HTML or Java or ...

        more like the way Redhat and co-operated

  10. trev101

    I use vim on Linux daily so if that was ported to Windows terminal its would be great.

    1. katrinab Silver badge

      It has.

      You can install it on WinGet. The one thing it doesn't do though is add it to the path, so you would need to do that manually.

      1. ScissorHands

        Is winget supported in Windows Server yet?

        I long for the day where I can open an SSH session into a Windows Server and edit remote config files.

        1. katrinab Silver badge

          Not officially supported, but you can install it.

  11. ScissorHands

    There are some options...

    where the author examined

    Yedit (part of the Yori alternative shell for CMD.EXE)

    Watcom VI

    Kinesics Text Editor (KIT)

    Minimum Profit


    Clone of TurboC's editor called SETEdit (some assembly required)

    X2 Programmer's Editor

    Personal Editor (PE)

    E3 Editor

    Thomson-Davis Editor (TDE)

    Microsoft Editor (MEP.EXE) - NT port of Z editor

    Micro, of course.

    However, most can't work with UTF-8, can't first-run from a raw binary like VIM (they need to install dependencies and DLLs) or have an x64 version.

    IIRC, only Yori (and one or two of these, can't remember right now) tick all the boxes

    1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

      Re: There are some options...

      Personal Editor (PE)

      Came across IBM Personal Editor from the days of PC-DOS. Very simple, yet had the ability to select/copy vertically

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: There are some options...

        The IBM E family of editors is an interesting one. IBM PC-DOS included E from 6.0 onward, and so did OS/2.

        I first used E in the late 1980s, when it was an internal IBM tool. It did a lot of things well. Column and rectangular select / copy / cut / paste was very handy. It had multiple file support, and could flip between the two most recent views very quickly with a single keypress, which was often handy as a visual-grep mechanism to find changes (just hold down the key combination and look for what's flashing on the screen). Full-fat E had a nice programming language which let you quickly build fancy macros and extensions.

        I confess to borrowing a copy of E (including all the available add-ons) from IBM and installing it on the DOS and OS/2 machines at the startup where I was also working, and it became the preferred editor for DOS, Windows, and OS/2 for most of the developers there for several years.

    2. Proton_badger

      Re: There are some options...

      Oh Micro has a Win version? It's my default terminal editor on Linux, it's convenient and supports global copy/cut/paste with ctrl-c/x/v through wl-clipboard.

      In any case, I think MS would probably prefer to make their own.

  12. Rich 2 Silver badge


    “The question, however, has to be Emacs or Vim?”

    Vim. Obviously

  13. Grogan Silver badge

    That royally pissed me off. It caught me by surprise that the edit command was gone. OK, it was an old .com program, but it wouldn't have been rocket science to port a program to work similarly with the modern CMD shell. They probably just needed to convert some constants and stuff and maybe change some memory loading behaviour, at most to port it to a 32 bit program that could have ran on all Windows NT based OSes (32 and 64 bit). It's been a standalone program since "MS DOS 7" (Windows 95) it's not like they'd have to port an interpreter.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      >but it wouldn't have been rocket science to port a program to work similarly with the modern CMD shell

      Probably, just need to hand the source to edit over to SysInternals...

    2. f4ff5e1881

      Same here. I remember feeling quite aggrieved the first time I typed EDIT into a Windows 7 64bit command console, only to be presented with the grumpy "'edit' is not recognized as an internal or external command..." message. I think I even tried copying over from a 32bit install just to see if it would work (obviously an act of pure, misguided optimism). Of course, it didn't work.

      Since when I've used Notepad as a substitute for Edit. I'm not overly concerned with what MS do with Windows nowadays, since my focus is now on Linux, but Edit was a nice little tool and MS could do worse than give it a second life.

  14. Jason Hindle

    Many have beat me to it.

    Lots of options. Vim and Neovim* happen to be what works for me. Unless Microsoft brings something new and innovative, I assume their efforts are better spent elsewhere.

    * Keeping it simple, though - you can expend much effort getting to work a thing that installs and works with a single click in VSCode.

  15. Michael Hoffmann Silver badge

    Literally, last week

    I wasn't even aware that Windows no longer had a CLI editor. Only at <gig> which is Win-heavy, did I find out the horror.

    Had to SSM into a Win2019 server and update a config file (automation? hahahahahahaha! not at that place, clickops is still the default case, which is arguably why I'm there to change that, if I don't go insane first).

    Uhm, anyway, how do I edit this file now?! The scream of rage could surely be heard to Redmond. Maybe that's what made this guy bring it up!

    edit locally, upload, copy into final destination (no direct upload into destination as that was a protected area).

    Installing a CLI editor? Nope, compliance alarm bells and what not!

  16. sedregj


    If you want a CLI editor with Windowseque key-bindings then Tilde is your man.

  17. TheMaskedMan Silver badge

    Interesting! I haven't used a cli editor on any MS platform since... I dunno, windows 95, maybe? On Linux, yes, usually nano, but not on Windows. Logically, therefore, I do not need one. But now I've read this, I want one!

    1. Trixr

      It's painful not having one if you just want to remote into a server via WinRM and tickle a config or two. Sure, if SMB is open between the servers, you can do it in the GUI, but a 30 sec job turns into a 5 minute one.

  18. ecofeco Silver badge

    Oh really?

    So 50 years later and we get text editing back in the command line? 30 years if you count MS-Dos Editor.

    Will wonders never cease? /s

  19. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    First, it was Ukraine v Russia

    Then Hamas v Israel. Now who went and re-ignited the editor war?

  20. Binraider Silver badge

    Edit remained useful right into winXP. Notepad++ is the go to today, but for something like a server where most of the GUI elements aren’t installed by default having an editor on tap would be helpful.

    There is the not so minor issue of getting config files back under sane control rather than the bottomless pit that is the registry, but one step at a time.

    Systemd offends in much the same way the registry does of course. So I can’t say MS are alone here

    1. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

      Where there's a CLI, there's a way

      "for something like a server where most of the GUI elements aren’t installed by default having an editor on tap would be helpful."

      $ reg add HKCU\myconfig.ini

      $ reg add HKCU\myconfig.ini /t REG_SZ /v "001#" /d ";;Did someone say registry??"

      $ reg add HKCU/myconfig.ini /t REG_SZ /v "002#" /d "[important.section]"

      $ reg add HKCU/myconfig.ini /t REG_SZ /v "003#" /d "THIS=a joke"

      $ for /f "usebackq tokens=1* delims=#" %A in (`reg query HKCU\myconfig.ini`) do (echo %B >> "%APP_DATA%\myconfig.ini")

    2. Trixr

      You can still launch notepad.exe in Server Core. But I'd rather have Edit anyway, thanks very much.

  21. WaveyDavey


    I recall using edlin to edit COBOL programs (on an NCR DM-V) prior to compiling with RM compiler. Happy days.

  22. Dwarf

    Why ?

    All this, just because they killed the perfectly functional, but basic graphical editor in the OS on a platform they call windows.

    You would imagine that if they understood anything, they would give choices, a CLI editor and a GUI editor.

    An editor should be one of most basic tools on any OS, it just has to work when the admin has a problem, so no dependencies, no download on demand, it must be preinstalled as fault finding is hard enough already, so having to jump through other unnecessary hoops must be avoided.

  23. Pete Sdev Bronze badge

    Ah edlin

    With edlin I altered the autoexec.bat of a school computer to run a "enter your password to proceed" program (written in GW-BASIC) when I was about 13.

    Got a bollocking, though bizarrely from my geography teacher. The teacher who taught IT was more amused/impressed.

    The correct password was 'fusetender', being a fan of Harry Harrison and recently read the Bill the Galactic Hero books. Strange what useless info sticks in the memory.

  24. tyrfing

    Why bother? Is there a way to install Windows so that you don't have a GUI?

    If there isn't, then running a command shell just to use a command-line editor seems to be more effort than just using the GUI tools.

    Yeah, I get that Notepad is not all that great, but if you want more then there are already alternatives.

    Is it about not wanting to cart a mouse around?

    Again, that seems more effort. I've done work with a machine when the mouse wasn't working. The alternative keys are certainly not my preferred method of interaction.

    Or is this some sort of "Four Yorkshiremen" one-upmanship?

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      >Is there a way to install Windows so that you don't have a GUI?

      I wonder if the Windows Server team are getting fed up with the constant GUI changes that they are seriously considering removing the full feature GUI from the server builds...

    2. Fred Daggy Silver badge

      Alternate key rule.

      The were almost usable at one point. Somewhere between 2000 and XP. I'd hate to be so mobility impaired as to need them. And one could just use a single tap of the ALT key to reveal them.

      But i still remember some of them, because, you know, when a 1px sliver of a window is stuck on the extreme edge of the screen after undocking a laptop. No mouse on the planet can grab it because doing so just stretches the window. CTRL/Space, etc. And sometimes Alt/N is good to move forward in a Wizard instead of reaching for a mouse.

      But, I've noticed them less and less as time goes by.

    3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Is there a way to install Windows so that you don't have a GUI?

      Yes. Windows Server Minimal.

      It is also possible to remote-shell into Windows.

      running a command shell just to use a command-line editor seems to be more effort than just using the GUI tools

      Does it? Using anything GUI for most tasks seems like more effort to me. Maybe not everyone is you.

    4. Happy_Jack

      It's quite common to run Windows Server without a Desktop. Also it might fail to start and you'll be stuck at a command line during the boot/recovery process.

  25. cookieMonster Silver badge

    The obvious answer

    Is that they will dig out an elderly version of MS Word for DOS, then sprinkle it with “AI” magic dust, and call it something like “Microsoft AI Nano Github LinkedIn Editor”, MANGLE for short

    1. f4ff5e1881

      Re: The obvious answer

      I propose they call it the "Command Line Interface - The Original Repurposed Integrated Scripter". Only one drawback with that - the abbreviation is C.L.I.T.O.R.I.S.

      1. Binraider Silver badge

        Re: The obvious answer

        That'd clash with the marketing for the Committee for the Liberation and Integration of Terrifying Organisms and their Rehabilitation Into Society...

        1. Bebu Silver badge

          Re: The obvious answer

          Second read got "organisms"

          First misread had me wondering for a moment.

      2. R Soul Silver badge

        Re: The obvious answer

        There's a much bigger problem. Most users would have trouble finding it.

        1. Fred Daggy Silver badge

          Re: The obvious answer

          Only those born biologically male.

          (SWMBO mutters something about spending more than 5 minutes looking for a golf ball)

  26. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    The editor bundled with WordPerfect Office was my favourite

    Documents that exceeded the size of available RAM inside the pc could easily be handled - quickly too using standard WordPerfect commands (Home Home Down to get to the bottom)

    Plus you could do string searches and replacements involving carriage returns and line feed characters.

    Pressing Reveal Codes gave you the customary hex ASCII listing format.

    ISTR there were command line parameters you could give it for batch editing.

  27. Libby the kid

    My main reason for installing wsl was so I could use bash and Linux tools on windows. Nano or vi, I'm too dumb for emacs.

  28. MTCleary

    TECO still rules

    Surely I’m not the only survivor.

  29. steelpillow Silver badge

    Definitely none of the above. M$ admin productivity is crap enough without wasting those endless reboot waits by flaming each other. Save it for the Dark Lords of Redmond.

    Anyway, the way they're going, they'll refactor a CLI for Notepad.

    1. Happy_Jack

      Endless reboot waits? What century is your hardware from? All our Windows production servers run virtualised in KVMs on top of cached SSD storage. Reboots take 2 or 3 seconds.

  30. martinusher Silver badge

    Lots of editors around

    They don't have to be strictly command line in the old 'ed' sense, they could be just the simple editor that's always been in MSFT's products that's based around a 25*80 text screen. (Editors like 'vi' are built around terminal operations which actually adds more complexity to the code).

    I have a copy of TextPad, been using it for years. Its fast, works equally well with large and small files and has outstanding search capabilities. It can be persuaded to highlight program syntax, its easy to configure for whatever language you're using, but normally I don't bother. (In fact the only clever bit I use is the bracket matching capability -- when you need it its a lifesaver!).

  31. MadeInNY

    Automating edits.

    The reason you want a command line editor is to make changes to files easily in an automation. It's nothing you can't already do in PowerShell, but it would be easier. That's why we have sed, and awk and those would also be nice to have in Windows.

    1. trindflo Silver badge

      Re: Automating edits.

      Exactly. for automation it needs to be able to work on a stream.

  32. -maniax-

    User preferences (that don't conform to Microsoft dictats)?

    > ...we'd contend that most administrators likely already have a preferred tool and will install it regardless of what Microsoft does or doesn't elect to include.

    So how long until Microsoft get up to the same sort of tricks they're already doing with desktop applications where they're overriding or outright ignoring user preferences?

    e.g. trying to start the user preferred editor and getting a messages along lines of

    "We recommend you use <Microsoft Editor>"

    Or just outright redirecting the command that should run the user preferred editor to run the Microsoft editor instead

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    emacs/vi - I'm not bothered one way or the other

  34. nsimic

    Why not


  35. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

    An OS without a CLI edit tool?

    Can't they do *anything* right over at MS?

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Obviously EMACS...

    ...but change the keybindings so no-one knows how to save files or quit.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Obviously EMACS...

      I thought EMACS did that already ....

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Obviously EMACS...

        "I thought EMACS did that already ...."

        Upvote to you !

        Vi is a nightmare for beginners. How do you explain the ctrl mode and the edit mode ? It is not understandable in 2023 ... I still have nightmares of the never ending BIPs in a full room at university, with a dozen of VT100 terms and so many students trying to edit while in ctrl-mode !

        So, Emacs would be my vote here, despite I have not used the terminal version of it for years ...

    2. Dizzy Dwarf Bronze badge

      Re: Obviously EMACS...

      > or quit

      It's easy: you open another session and kill -9 <emacs-pid>

  37. Sleep deprived

    We'd be fine with Edlin, but it's 2023

    After spending billions on AI, expect Microsoft to implement a command guesser à la Clippy into the CLI.

  38. Bitbeisser

    Sorry, but no. Neither EMACS nor VI(M) will work. There are plenty of simple text mode editors that could be adjusted to run in a 64bit CLI, without much issues. After all, you don't need to edit multi-GB files. There are even MSEDIT clones that could probably work by just recomiling....

  39. astfgl

    The answer is joe

    ...with Wordstar key bindings.

  40. Sceptic Tank Silver badge

    A Word from the Editor

    What problem are they trying to solve? Put the directory of your favourite Notepad-like editor in the search path and edit text in a GUI like it's 1991, even from the command prompt. Back in those days I gave EDIT.EXE that shipped with DOS a jaundiced eye and did all my text editing in TP.EXE.

  41. jotheberlock

    Vim would be the obvious choice because Vi(m) is already standard on UNIX. Unlike emacs, it's available pretty much everywhere so any sysadmin will have basic familiarity with it for editing config files and suchlike.

  42. Stuart Castle Silver badge

    Ahh Edlin. Used it a fair bit in the 80s, until I discovered Sidekick, and got a pirate copy.

    I used to program a lot and needed a text editor, sometimes for notes, and sometimes to update actual code. I didn't really use Edlin for notes, but I used it to edit source code.

    Sidekick was awesome though. In these days of computers being able to run hundreds of tasks simultaneously, it's easy to test something and switch back to your programming IDE to make updates.

    That wasn't an option in DOS. If you needed to update source code, you would have to quit your application, make changes,possibly re-compile then start the test again,

    Sidekick doesn't entirely remove that problem, but it makes it easy to switch to your source code, edit it, then when you are ready, you can quit the application, recompile and test again.

    But Edlin was a good emergency backup.. If you want to see a rough guide to Edlin, this video shows Edlin for Freedos, but it's near enough.

  43. Bit Brain

    A:\> Copy CON autoexec.bat

  44. adam 40 Silver badge

    You dropped your briefs

    Someone mention brief?

    Best feature: macros to make it look like vi.

  45. Spanners Silver badge

    I'd be happy with notepad++

    It wouldn't take much effort to get

    npp .\file.txt

    to work.

  46. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    I'm a weirdo so I use Joe

    I'm a weirdo so I use Joe. I do believe it's using Wordstar comaptible key combos (I used Wordperfect 5.1 for DOS back in the day but went from Atari 8-bit to PC so I never used Wordstar.)

    That said, i rather liked DOS Edit, a version of that without the DOS-based file size limits etc. could be pleasant to use. Maybe (if it doesn't bloat it too much) t hrow in syntax highlighting like (from what i've read) VSCode has. I mean in theory it can do that and stay small, Joe'sd installed size is like 2MB and that includes all languages and a large man page. 23. It does syntax highlighting and all that fun 4stuff for every language i've thrown at it.

  47. sin

    Midnight Commnder and mcedit - I could not live without them... maybe because of years working with Norton Commander under DOS?

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