First Impressions: Windows Terminal

From my early days on the Commodore 64 to my current work with Linux (/bin/bash) and Windows (powershell, mostly), I have spent a tremendous amount of time in command lines over the course of my life. So, when I stumbled across Windows Terminal, it seemed like a good opportunity to evaluate a new container for my favorite command lines.

Microsoft Windows Terminal

Windows Terminal is an open source application from Microsoft that touts itself as “… a modern terminal application for users of command-line tools and shells …”. It promotes features such multiple tabs, panes, Unicode and UTF-8 character support, a GPU accelerated text rendering engine, and the ability to create your own themes and customize text, colors, backgrounds, and shortcuts. [1]

In my experience, it lives up to that billing. The application is easy to install (in particular with Chocolatey), quick to configure, and provides a wide range of features to make managing my command line windows much easier.

Install and Initial Configuration

I use Chocolatey pretty heavily to manage my installs, and thankfully, there is a package for Windows terminal:

choco install microsoft-windows-terminal -y

It is worth noting that the recommended installation method is actually through the Microsoft Windows Store, not Chocolatey. It is also worth nothing that uninstalling Windows Terminal from Chocolatey deletes your settings file, so if you want to switch, be sure to backup that settings file before uninstalling.

When I first installed Windows Terminal, there was no User Interface for settings, which meant opening the Settings file and editing its JSON. The settings file is fairly intuitive and available settings are well documented, which made my initial setup pretty easy. Additionally, as all settings are stored in the JSON file, migrating settings from one machine to another is as simple as copying the file between machines. Starting with version 1.8, a Settings UI was added to help ease some of the setup.

Additional Tools Setup

As I perused the documentation, I came across the setup for Powerline, which provides custom command line prompts for Git repositories. I was immediately intrigued: I have been using posh-git for years, and Powerline extends posh-git and oh-my-posh and adds some custom glyphs for graphical interfaces. The installation tutorial is well done and complete, which is no surprise considering the source material comes from Mr. Hanselman.

My home lab work has brought me squarely back into the realm of Linux and SSH, which was yet another reason I was looking for an updated terminal tool. While there is no explicit profile help for SSH, there is a good tutorial on configurating SSH profiles.


I have been using Windows Terminal now for around 4 months, and in that time, I have become more comfortable with it. I am still a novice when it comes to the various actions and shortcuts that it supports, which is why they are notably absent from this write-up. The general functionality and, in particular, the support for profiles and console coloring, allows for much better organization of what used to be 4-8 powershell console windows open at any one time on my PC. If you are a command line user, Windows Terminal is worth a look.