There are a few different command line environments for the people who use the keyboard more than a mouse. There is the Windows Powershell, which actually does a decent job of making  command line usage powerful and easy – not the simplest thing to do. There is 4NT, by JPSoft, makers of the 4DOS command shell, which was an extremely powerful extension for DOS, and in like fashion, 4NT makes the command line incredibly powerful and useful. Running batch files written in the 4NT/Windows batch language can be very powerful indeed.

What neither of these things do, however, is pay any homage or attention to the ways of Unix, which is by far the most powerful command line driven OS. Knowing this, a group of developers got together some years ago to develop Cygwin, which allows the use of many Unix-style utilities to be run on a Windows platform. The Christmas present to the loyal fans is an update, bringing changes to the collection, and a solid commitment to the NT based OSs from Microsoft (no further development for the Windows 9x versions). The notice came from slashdot

“The 1.7 branch of Cygwin, the Unix-like environment for Windows, has reached stable status after about 3 1/2 years of effort. Among many other changes, this release drops support for Windows 9x. Since the NT API and NT-based versions of Windows are more capable and somewhat less of a mismatch with POSIX (for instance, they include a security model), this has allowed for code path simplifications, better performance (particularly noticeable with pipe I/O), better security, and better POSIX compatibility.”

While there are more choices I have not mentioned, Cygwin is the one that is styled after Unix, and for those who are heading that way, or use Unix or Linux on other machines, would probably be the best fit. It is also free, so that’s tough to beat.

Give it a try, expand your mind and horizons!

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