Installed by default on PC computers for several years now (since Windows 8), the Windows Store is the official Microsoft store—equivalent to the Google Play Store for Android devices or the Apple App Store. It allows you to easily find the office tools you need. However, note that the Windows Store does not offer 100% of the software available on the market.
To download software to your computer, there are alternatives. The first, which is often our initial choice, involves using an internet browser and its search engine (Google or others) to find an application. The downside to this method is the risk of encountering unreliable sources that may prompt you to download a malicious version.
The second solution, especially for those familiar with Digital, involves an online software library ex:(FileHippo.com). This offer lets you download software via direct links to the publishers.
A less-known but highly effective solution is the use of package managers. Although sometimes challenging to use, they offer numerous advantages and are widely used by Linux distributions.
Benefits of Package Managers on Windows:
On Windows, software installation, uninstallation, and updates are often cumbersome. Not only do you spend minutes (or even hours) scouring the web to find the right websites to download from, but you also need to be wary of potentially unwanted programs that may install alongside. To avoid such inconveniences, package managers were created. These tools automate the processes of installing, uninstalling, and updating programs on your Windows computer.
They present an interface allowing users to manage all the packages installed on their machines. A package is an archive that stores computer files, information, and procedures required to install specific software.
With a package manager, installing, uninstalling, and updating Windows software becomes faster and simpler. Configuration becomes automatic, duplication is avoided, and there is no risk of installing potentially unwanted programs (PUPs).
Disadvantages of Package Managers:
Package managers don’t have many downsides. As mentioned earlier, using them brings simplicity, time savings, and security. Identified drawbacks might be at the installation level. Depending on the solution used, it can be complex and requires a minimum level of computer knowledge. Rest assured, the process is often well-documented.
Another potential disadvantage is in usage. While some package managers have a graphical interface that makes them easy to use, others, like Chocolatey, one of the most popular ones, only work on the command line. In such cases, beginners may find it challenging.
If you’re uncomfortable with computers, it’s better to use the Windows Store or our software library to search for the necessary software.
Finally, note that these package managers are not always free; most offer some features only to premium users.
Available Package Managers for Windows:
Typing “Windows package managers” into your favorite search engine will yield a long list of suggestions. Among the most popular are:
- Chocolatey: Has the largest app repository and supports PowerShell, Command Prompt, and GUI.
- Ninite Pro: Arguably one of the best network packet managers with an easy-to-use graphical interface.
- WinGet: Offers a large software repository and works with Command Prompt and PowerShell.
- NPackd: Supports managing previously installed applications, does not require administrator access, and works with command prompt and GUI.
- Scoop: Allows easy installation, configuration, and updates of many software via PowerShell without requiring administrator access.
How to Install and Use a Package Manager?
It wouldn’t be possible to describe the installation and use of all the package managers available. Each has its own system, with some being simpler than others.
For example, let’s explore how to install and use the very popular Chocolatey.
How to Install Chocolatey:
Before you begin, ensure your computer meets the requirements for installing Chocolatey: Windows 7 or later, Windows Server 2003 or newer, PowerShell v2 or newer, and Microsoft Framework .NET 4 or later. Also, note that you must have administrator rights.
Assuming all is well, perform the installation by opening Windows PowerShell (admin) and pressing the Windows-X keys simultaneously. Then, copy the command below, paste it into the terminal, and press Enter:
Set-ExecutionPolicy Bypass -Scope Process -Force; [System.Net.ServicePointManager]::SecurityProtocol = [System.Net.ServicePointManager]::SecurityProtocol -bor 3072; iex ((New-Object System.Net.WebClient).DownloadString('https://community.chocolatey.org/install.ps1'))
Wait for the installation to complete, then restart PowerShell and verify that Chocolatey is installed by entering the
choco -h command.
How to Use Chocolatey:
Now that the Chocolatey Package Manager is installed on your Windows PC, here’s how to use it to find, install, update, or uninstall an app.
- For search, use the command in PowerShell:
choco search -e applicationname(replace with the app’s name, for example:
choco search -e vlc). You can also use the command
choco search --by-id-only applicationnameto find the application name’s packages.
- To install an application, use the command
choco install applicationname. If you want to install several applications at once, use a command like
choco install applicationname applicationname2 applicationname3(a space must separate software names).
- To update an application, first check the list of outdated software with the command
choco outdated. Then, install updates using the command
choco upgrade applicationnameto update a specific application,
choco upgrade applicationname applicationname2 applicationname3for updating multiple applications and
choco upgrade allfor updating all software in the list provided by Chocolatey.
- To uninstall software, use commands like
choco uninstall applicationnameto uninstall a particular application,
choco uninstall applicationname applicationname2 applicationname3for several software programs simultaneously and
choco uninstall allto uninstall all packages installed with Chocolatey.
Finally, uninstalling software is done with the following commands: choco uninstall applicationname to uninstall a particular application, choco uninstall applicationname applicationname2 applicationname3 for several software programs simultaneously, and choco uninstall all to uninstall all the packages installed with Chocolatey.