During Microsoft’s BUILD developer conference, the company is highlighting new features aimed at developers, including updates to some of the geekier features the company has added to Windows in recent years.

The latest version of the Windows Terminal app can be opened from any screen in Windows by using a keyboard shortcut. Version 1.0 of the Windows Package Manager is coming soon, with support for installing and uninstalling more than 1,400 applications from the command line. And Microsoft is expanding support for running desktop Linux applications with a graphical user interface with the rollout of WSLg.

WSLg

Microsoft had already introduced initial support for running Linux GUI applications through the Windows Subsystem for Linux earlier this year. But at the time it was only available to members of the Windows Insider Preview running a pre-release version of Windows. Soon it will be available to everyone.

The goal of the project is to allow developers (or anyone else) to use Windows as their primary system, but to also run applications which may only be available for Linux or which work better with Linux without the need to reboot into a different operating system or load a virtual machine.

That said, you do need to enable WSL, as it’s an optional feature of Windows 10. And you will most likely need to install a graphics driver for the best performance.

You can find more details at the WSL and WSLg GitHub pages.

New Windows Package Manager features include a new Mainfest Creator Preview that will help developers submit packages to Microsoft’s repository, and support for uninstalling and exporting packages using the Windows Add/Remove Programs menu.

Windows Terminal 1.9 quake mode

Meanwhile Windows Terminal Preview version 1.9 is picking up a couple of nifty new features.  One is the ability to set the application as your default terminal emulator on Windows – allowing any command line application to automatically launch in Windows Terminal.

Another new feature is something Microsoft is calling quake mode – you an now launch Windows Terminal from any screen by hitting a hotkey combination.

By default, that’s Win +`, but users can customize the shortcut to use different keys. The Terminal will cover the top half of the screen when called up, and then you can dismiss it by hitting the same keyboard shortcut.

Microsoft has also added new font options, updated the Settings user interface, and fixed a number of bugs. You can find more details in the Windows Terminal Preview version 1.9 release announcement.

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  1. WSL has been a decent alternative for me on devices that don’t run Linux very well (ie. my Surface Go LTE) or the effort of manually getting things running is too much to be worthwhile.

    Great to see WSLg. Can’t wait to try it out.

  2. Well, nice. Now I have both Linux and Android apps in my start menu and taskbar. I wish Microsoft (or more like Samsung) could also add USB connection option (WiFi is pretty laggy), and finally fix Android windows free form resize, enabling it reboots my phone. And maybe do something, so it will not require me to unlock the phone.

  3. Is there a list of packages available via the Windows Package Manager I can look at?

    When is WSLg expected to be out? Is there any info on people testing graphics performance (not just gaming) using the experimental drivers?

    1. If the package manager is worth anything, you should be able to run it with some options like /list /all that’ll give you all available packages.

      1. I’m sure it does but I don’t have access to Windows 10 Insider builds and all that to even check. It’d be nice if MS has a site that shows the available packages like some Linux distros do.

  4. I’m eagerly awaiting WSL2. I think it will still be October-ish (21H2) before it leaves insiders and is generally available. Unless I missed an announcement somewhere.