Microsoft to devs: No, Windows Terminal is not replacing 30-year old Windows Console

Microsoft's new Windows Terminal terminal emulator causes jitters among Windows developers.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

News about Microsoft's new Windows Terminal app with tabs got rightly overshadowed by its Linux kernel for Windows 10, which will allow Linux apps to to be run by a Microsoft-made Linux kernel rather than the Windows kernel.

But the announcement of a Linux-inspired Terminal emulator app attracted enough concern from developers that Microsoft has now posted a frequently asked questions (FAQ) page about the new Terminal. 

Terminal launches in mid-June and has been framed as an update to the trusty Windows Command Prompt and PowerShell experience.

SEE: 20 pro tips to make Windows 10 work the way you want (free PDF)

Microsoft said Windows Terminal, another command line interface, is a modern app for users of command-line tools and shells like Command Prompt (cmd.exe), PowerShell, and the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL).      

One of the main questions Microsoft received at its Build 2019 developer conference earlier this month was whether Windows Terminal was replacing the familiar Command Prompt and PowerShell. 

Microsoft's Kayla Cinnamon, a program manager for Windows Terminal, Console, & Command-Line, now explains that Terminal is definitely not replacing Console. She says the answer is "No" to the question "Is Windows Terminal replacing Console?". 

Windows Console will still ship within Windows for "decades to come" for backward compatibility with existing and legacy command-line scripts, apps, and tools, according to Cinnamon. 

Also, Windows Terminal will run alongside the Console, but Microsoft thinks Terminal will "become the preferred tool of choice for users wanting to run command-line tools on Windows". 

Windows Terminal can connect to Command Prompt and PowerShell, as well as any other command-line shells, tools, and apps. 

"You will be able to open independent tabs connected to Command Prompt, PowerShell, bash (via WSL or ssh), and any other shells/tools of your choice," she wrote. 

Microsoft also clarified that Command Prompt and PowerShell, like WSL and bash, are shells and not terminals, therefore they have no user interface (UI) of their own. 

Windows Console, on the other hand, is the standard Windows developer app with a UI that's been available as an interface for command-line tools since Windows NT through to Windows 10. 

Developers can clone Windows Terminal source code from Microsoft's GitHub page for Terminal.   

A preview of Terminal should be available for download from the Microsoft Store by Summer 2019, and version 1.0 of Windows Terminal is slated for release by the end of 2019, assuming it is "of sufficiently high quality" by then. 

SEE: 30 things you should never do in Microsoft Office (free PDF)

A project manager for Windows Terminal who uses the handle "bitcrazed" fielded a few questions on YCombinator's Hacker News. Terminal preview builds will be released every fortnight via the Microsoft Store and Microsoft plans on automatically upgrading all users after each release, the Terminal worker said. 

The employee also addressed concerns about Microsoft's record for collecting telemetry data about their usage of Windows 10 and its tools.   

"With WSL, we collect the number of times an un-implemented syscall is called, or # of times a syscall returns an unexpected error. We couldn't care less WHO experiences these issues, only how OFTEN they occur," wrote bitcrazed

"We understand the community's concern about data collection - heck, EVERYONE should be - but in the general scheme of things, I think it fair to say that Microsoft's telemetry data collection is pretty well contained and is not egregious." 

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