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Windows 10 Gets a Package Manager

Announced at Microsoft Build 2020: Windows gets a command-line interface ‘Windows Package Manager’ that allows developers, IT Pros and enthusiasts to install their favourite tools. Windows Package Manager allows you to discover, HPE_ELEMENT_Blog.jpgautomate, install, upgrade and configure commonly used tools from a trusted repository.

For quite some time now a package manager for Windows has been a top ask from the community, and we have even seen third parties or individuals working on their open source solutions, one such example being AppGet https://appget.net/.

This initial preview release of Windows Package Manager targets applications on the Windows 10 platform, unlike some other package management products. For example, the open-source version of Chocolatey https://chocolatey.org/ which supports both current and much older versions of Windows Client e.g. Windows 7 and Windows Server e.g. Windows 2003, along with support for the Server Core installation option in Windows 2008.

Installing Windows Package Manager is a fairly straight forward process, and Microsoft has provided a number of different mechanisms to allow you to get started.

  • You can clone, build, run and test Windows Package Manager from Microsoft’s GitHub repository https://github.com/microsoft/winget-cli
  • You can become a member of the Windows Insider program and participate in the Windows Insider flight ring https://insider.windows.com/.
  • You can join the Windows Package Manager Insider program by sending an e-mail to winget-feedback@microsoft.com and request to be included in the preview. You will then be sent instructions on how to install the App Installer from Microsoft Store via the command-line. Note, Windows 10, version 1809 or later is a requirement.

Windows Package Manager Insider ProgramWindows Package Manager Insider Program

 

Sideloading Windows Package ManagerSideloading Windows Package Manager

 

Once you have Windows Package Manager installed, you can start to experiment from the command-line. Out of the above methods, I tested both options three and four but found option four the most reliable currently. This may be because of the delay between joining the Windows Package Manager Insider program and getting an updated App Installer from a non-US Microsoft store. I am a member of the Windows Insider program but here with the correct build, you automatically get Windows Package Manager.

Windows Package Manager comes with its own help.

WinGet HelpWinGet Help

The current preview build of Windows Package Manager supports a number of basic commands e.g. WinGet install however this is a subset of commands when compared to the open-source version of Chocolatey. The standout command that is currently missing from Windows Package Manager is the uninstall command i.e. the ability to actually uninstall a Windows package.

Choco HelpChoco Help

The Windows Package Manager search command gives you a list of all the applications available. You can also do a substring search here as well.

WinGet SearchWinGet Search

The search command also allows you to filter your request even further using options like name e.g. Visual Studio Code, tag or Id e.g. Microsoft.VisualStudioCode or the application moniker e.g. vscode.

WinGet Search VisualStudioCodeWinGet Search VisualStudioCode

The show command provides mode details on the package itself e.g. the description and even shows you the download URL.

WinGet Show VSCODEWinGet Show VSCODE

Finally, the install command passes Windows Package Manager the YAML file from the repository to carry out the download and installation of your application package.

WinGet InstallWinGet Install

Moments later, Visual Studio Code is installed.

You can use the Windows Package Manager to distribute custom software packages. To submit your own software package, you will need to do the following:

  1. Create a package manifest, which is a YAML-based file following the Windows Package Manager schema and provides specific information about your application.
  2. Submit your manifest to the Windows Package Manager repository to be validated. Once successful, your custom software package will be added to the repository for others to consume.

There are already a number of software packages in the Windows Package Manager repository, and you should check back regularly as the list of applications grow. This includes software packages like Docker Desktop:

Docker DesktopDocker Desktop

Windows Package Manager responds to a need that has existed in the developer community.  It offers a tool with excellent capabilities that will definitely grow in popularity and use after its general release as more and more developers discover what it can do. 

For more information on the many ways we can help you, https://www.hpe.com/uk/en/services/pointnext.html 

Patrick Lownds
Hewlett Packard Enterprise

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