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Windows 10 'Fall Creators Update' Bringing Console Improvements

Microsoft will be delivering major Windows and Linux Console changes with the arrival of the Windows 10 "fall creators update" next week.

The lowly Console, with its text-based command-line interface, is typically used for executing commands and performing maintenance tasks in Windows. However, Microsoft will spruce it up with the Windows 10 fall creators update semiannual release arriving on Oct. 17. The improvements for IT pros and developers are coming on top of mixed reality and other perks.

This week, Microsoft outlined changes for the Windows Console, as well as improvements for the Linux Console as supported by Windows Subsystem for Linux technology.

Windows Console Improvements
For the Windows 10 fall creators update, Microsoft is promising that the Windows Console will get a new color scheme to improve the contrast between text and backgrounds within the console. It'll also display better on newer LCD terminals, Microsoft promised. Users also are getting the ability to customize the colors of the Windows Console using an open-source ColorTool. Text rendering is getting improved as well to display text more like what "one would expect on a Linux or Mac console," Microsoft explained.

Microsoft also will add improved Windows Narrator support to the Windows Console with the Windows 10 fall creators update. Windows Narrator is an accessibility tool that reads the text on a screen display to a user. Also supported in the Windows Console will be "any other screen-reader or tool via the Windows UI Automation infrastructure (UIA)," the announcement added.

For the near future, Microsoft plans to modernize the architecture of the Windows Console, giving it its "biggest overhaul in more than 30 years." The Windows Console "is one of the most used apps on Windows, second only to the browser," Microsoft explained.

The Windows Console modernization effort is a long-term project, but the work first began with the Windows 10 creators update (version 1703, released April). Microsoft's aim is to improve the Windows Console without breaking things. These new architectural improvements won't show up in this month's fall creators update, though.

One element that could arrive in the future for the Windows Console will be a tabs addition to the interface, which is part of Microsoft's plans, according to Rich Turner, a developer on the Microsoft Console team, in the comments section of this Aug. 2 Microsoft announcement. The settings menu also could get revisited, he noted. Microsoft is looking at adding copy-and-paste operations that include formatting (CTRL+SHIFT+C and CTRL+SHIFT+V), he indicated. Microsoft is including user suggestions in its plans.

Linux Console Improvements
The Linux command-line interface is currently supported on Windows 10 systems using Windows Subsystem for Linux technology, although it's at the beta test stage. Microsoft's shorthand name for it was "Bash on Windows," which was first supported with an Ubuntu Linux distro. Now, Microsoft is signaling that it will stop using the Bash on Windows phrase. It'll just be referred to as "Windows Subsystem for Linux," which now has support for multiple Linux distros, which get installed from the Windows Store.

With the Windows 10 fall creators update release, Windows Subsystem for Linux becomes a "fully supported OS feature." It'll have its own checkbox to turn it on located under the Windows Features menu.

The fall creators update of Windows 10 will support installing "Ubuntu, openSUSE and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server" distros from the Windows Store for use in the console. The Windows Store also will house "Fedora and other distros" in coming months, according to the announcement. Windows 10 users can run multiple distros simultaneously, too, without conflict, alongside Windows tools.

The older Ubuntu-based Bash on Windows implementation will still work, but Microsoft is deprecating it, and advises that users switch instead to the Windows Store-delivered versions. Microsoft cautioned that these Windows Subsystem for Linux implementations are supposed to be used "for local interactive use, [and] not for hosting production Linux workloads." They also should not be used to alter Linux files, Microsoft had indicated late last year.

Microsoft is also adding Windows Subsystem for Linux support to Windows Server, which was first announced back in August. It runs Linux binaries "natively," permitting Linux tools to be run on the server. Windows Subsystem for Linux is also available via Microsoft Azure Windows Server virtual machine images. The announcement included the reminder that Windows Subsystem for Linux is just for using Linux tools, and not for running workloads. The approach for workloads is to use local or hosted Linux.

Microsoft will drop a requirement to use the "Developer Mode" feature with Windows Subsystem for Linux. It's adding support for USB and serial port communications, as well as adding support for mounting USB drives (FAT, FAT32 and NTFS versions), among other improvements.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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