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July 11, 2020

The Incredible Upsurge of Winstall.app

Within two days of the release of the Windows Package Manager, aka winget, at Build 2020, long-time Thurrott.com contributor and developer Mehedi Hassan had stood up a website to facilitate its use. Upon its debut, Winstall.app provided automatic install script generation for 242 different Windows app packages. As of May 29, as the lead-in graphic for this story shows, that count was up to 427.  It was pretty amazing to start with, so it’s numerically almost twice as amazing one week later. Zounds!

What’s the Deal with Winstall.App?

Mr. Hassan describes the site as a “simple, always up-to-date GUI for Windows Package Manager,” aka winget. The trick to using the site’s fullest capabilities is to click the “View all” button at the home page. This takes you to the All Apps page (the topmost portion of which appears in the lead-in graphic above).

When I first visited this page on 5/22 Hassan already had 242 app packages available there. On 5/29 as I visit again to refresh this note on this article, that count is up to 427. It was 410 yesterday, so I assume that means Hassan is serious about keeping up with his “always-up-to-date” assertion. I have to believe he’s put together some automated tools to scan the list of available packages, and update the “All Apps” page automatically, and probably runs a scheduled task one or more times daily to do that very thing.

If this facility still doesn’t make much sense to you, here’s a quick-and-dirty alternate explanation: visit this page, search for your package by name, and get a cut-n-paste winget invocation to install that package. Easy. Simple. Fast. What more do you want? Great job, Mr. Hassan. Keep up the good work!

Is There a Dark Cloud Over Winget
(Windows Package Manager)?

Paul Thurrott himself has put forward a very interesting back story about Winget/Windows Package Manager. Its title states the main thesis — namely, that MS “stole” the idea and possibly much of its actual implementation from another developer: AppGet Creator Says MIcrosoft Stole His Product. Having read the story with some attention, along with its reader comments (some of which take alternate and very insightful positions on the nature of Open Source development), I’m not sure if this thesis is warranted or not. But some kind of objective investigation appears needed, to set the record straight. If Mr. Thurrott’s reporting is accurate and correctly represents how the sequence of events and releases unfolded, seems like Microsoft needs to set things right. We’ll see. Stay Tuned!

Author: Ed Tittel

Ed Tittel is a 30-plus-year computer industry veteran. He’s a Princeton and multiple University of Texas graduate who’s worked in IT since 1981 when he started his first programming job. Over the past three decades he’s also worked as a manager, technical evangelist, consultant, trainer, and an expert witness. See his professional bio for all the details.

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