New Windows Terminal showing Linux applications
Microsoft via The Verge

Forget the Command Prompt. Microsoft is launching a new command line application named “Windows Terminal.” It features tabs and themes, with centralized access to PowerShell, the classic Cmd environment, and Bash via Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL.)

Windows had long had an inferior command line environment compared to other operating systems. Windows 10’s WSL, which lets you run Bash and other Linux shells, is great. But it’s based on the old Windows Console, as seen in the Command Prompt. These windows don’t have tabs, a feature Linux and Mac terminal windows have had for a very long time. With the failure of Sets, it looks like the classic console windows won’t be getting them.

Microsoft has been working hard on improving the old Windows Console for years. Microsoft has added a variety of “experimental console features” like Ctrl+C to copy and Ctrl+V to paste, which are disabled by default. After all, they might break legacy applications using the old Command Prompt. Microsoft even swapped the console color scheme with a new, more readable one. Microsoft worked hard on adding unicode support to the existing console environment. Microsoft added support for VT codes so complex Linux apps like tmux would be usable.

With today’s announcement, Microsoft is announcing a new application named the Windows Terminal. It will include multiple tabs along with themes and other customization features. The Windows Terminal uses GPU-based text rendering and even supports emoji. It includes tabs so you can open Cmd, PowerShell, and WSL consoles in a single window.

Opening a new tab in the new Windows Terminal
Microsoft via Tom’s Hardware

We look forward to learning more about this application and experimenting with it in June. For now, it looks like an exciting break from the past. It can make big changes without a need for maintaining perfect compatibility with old business apps that use the old Windows Console.

Microsoft announced this new application at its Build 2019 developer conference on May 6. Microsoft plans to make it available in mid-June. This application won’t immediately replace the classic Windows Console environment. The source code is already available on GitHub.

Beyond the visual changes, Microsoft also announced “Windows Subsystem for Linux 2.” It will reportedly offer up to twice the performance of the current version of WSL for filesystem-heavy operations. Windows 10 will include a Linux kernel to make this possible.

RELATED: Windows 10 Is Finally Getting a Real Command Line

New Windows Terminal app showing emoji
Microsoft via The Verge

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Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He's written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times and Reader's Digest, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami's NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read more than one billion times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.
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