PuTTY wish win-command-prompt

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summary: Ability to backend on to a Windows command interpreter
class: wish: This is a request for an enhancement.
difficulty: mayhem: Probably impossible
priority: low: We aren't sure whether to fix this or not.
fixed-in: a55aac71e4fa6cf30f976da6727877c4cb117c96 (0.77)

Lots of people used to ask whether PuTTY would be able to act as a front end for Windows command interpreters (Command Prompt, bash, etc), in place of the not-very-pleasant standard console window.

Some advantages of this (and probably not all of them):

This wishlist item was raised at Mayhem difficulty, because at the time it was originally suggested, there was essentially no way to do it reliably. I (SGT) did some experimental work, which involved instantiating a Windows console as a hidden window, and using the same console API used by applications running in the console to read out its screen buffer and transfer that into the PuTTY window. This was unreliable in corner cases (in particular, I never got keypresses like Ctrl-C to cause the right things to happen in the hidden console), and it involved some extremely intrusive refactoring of PuTTY itself (you basically needed two totally different shapes of backend, one emitting an escape-sequence stream fed to terminal.c and the other directly providing updates to a rectangular character grid).

But in 2018, Windows itself helped out, by introducing the new ConPTY interface to newer versions of Windows 10, which means now the Windows API itself does the hard part, and all you have to do is to interpret the escape-sequence stream you get back.

As of 2022-05, we're now building an experimental pterm.exe for Windows. It's not part of the installer or putty.zip yet, but it's linked from the Download page, so you can download it and give it a try.

There's one known issue, involving bad handling of line wrapping on Windows 10. We think that's actually a Windows issue: see win-pterm-line-wrap.

If your version of Windows is too old for pterm.exe to work at all, you'll see the error message Pseudo-console API is not available on this Windows system.

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Audit trail for this wish.
(last revision of this bug record was at 2022-05-27 09:03:25 +0100)