Microsoft: Behold, at some later date, the next generation of Windows

Meanwhile, fans may enjoy Linux GUI apps on Windows Subsystem for Linux


Build Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella opened day one of the company's Build 2021 conference, virtual again this year, with a pitch to be the platform for platform creators.

"As computing becomes embedded in every aspect of our lives, there will no longer be such a thing as the tech sector," he said. "Every organization will not only need to adopt the latest technology, but more importantly, build their own unique digital technology or be left behind."

That's Nadella's vision for the world of 2030, for better or worse. In the near term, he promised "the next generation of Windows," without getting into the specifics of what that means.

"Soon we will share one of the most significant updates to Windows of the past decade to unlock greater economic opportunity for developers and creators," Nadella said during his keynote. "I’ve been self-hosting it over the past several months, and I’m incredibly excited about the next generation of Windows."

Pick up a penguin

Until then, Windows users will have to be content with running Linux graphic user interface (GUI) apps atop the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL), without a VM or X Server.

That capability, foretold last month and referred to as WSLg, can be had via Windows 10 Insider Preview build 21362+ and is expected to reach the general public as part of the next Windows 10 release this year.

WSL has also been enhanced to support GPUs on Windows, to make Linux AL and ML data processing more efficient.

Project Reunion, Microsoft's revamped desktop development framework for Windows 10, inched ahead to reach 0.8 preview. It provides components like Windows UI Library (WinUI) 3, MRT Core, and DWriteCore to help make writing Windows 10 apps more consistent.

"When you build an app that uses Project Reunion, you get access to: coherent and modern interactions and UX with WinUI 3, great system performance and battery life, an experience optimized for the device hardware, and hassle-free app discovery and management," the company explained in a blog post.

Windows Terminal 1.9 preview brings with it a new feature called Quake Mode, which alas does not launch an instance of the classic 3D first-person shooter. Instead it opens a new terminal window using the keyboard shortcut that works anywhere in Windows (Win + `) – previously Quake Mode required entering wt -w _quake or binding the quakeMode action. The name refers to the behavior of the terminal window, which is similar to the Quake game's command line window.

Terminal refresh

Windows Terminal 1.9 also adds the ability to set the default terminal emulator to Windows Terminal, so command line applications launch automatically using Windows Terminal rather than the original console.

The 1.0 release of Windows Package Manager, which consists of a command line tool and services for installing applications on Windows 10, is expected soon. Currently, it's listed at version v0.4.11391 Preview. Meanwhile, the Windows Package Manager Manifest Creator Preview offers a way to submit packages to the community repository or to add them to CI/CD automated release pipelines.

Also available in preview form is the Azure Communication Services Calling SDK for Windows apps, which makes it easier to add voice and video calling to native Windows apps.

Microsoft also said version 91 of its Edge browser is due out this week, featuring Startup boost (running certain processes in the background for faster starts) and sleeping tabs (a way to put inactive tabs to sleep to save energy).

If 2030 lives up to depictions of the future in the cinematic and literary dystopias of popular culture, you'll need every watt. ®

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