2019 has been an excellent year for developers who’ve been bold enough to code on a Windows machine. The announcement of a new Windows terminal and advancements in Visual Studio 2019 have already been welcome additions to the developer toolkit. Amidst the flurry of Windows announcements was an announcement that didn’t make a huge splash. And that’s the fact that Python is now easier to install on Windows. That might not sound like a big deal, but if anyone has tried to install something like PostgreSQL on Windows, you know about the potential difficulties one can face in making sure files are properly installed and configured.
Personally, I’ve never got my Python installation to work on my Windows machine; though I could’ve troubleshooted the problem, I thought it wasn’t worth the trouble. How many beginners and hobbyists who consider using Python on a Windows machine for experimentation may decide to forgo the language entirely? For many devs, this complaint is met with I-told-you-so’s and Virtual Machine/Linux/Mac recommendations. While those suggestions are worthwhile, PCs and Windows are still a fact of life for many beginners and hobbyists.
So, when Windows’ Python team say that they’ve made Python easier to install, it’s a pretty big deal. Steve Dower, the Python engineer who wrote the announcement post, mentioned that even professional Python devs find that Windows does little to help Python developers, saying, “Python developers on Windows find themselves facing more friction than on other platforms.”
Again, this problem is due to Window’s history as a platform that catered to corporate professionals and students. The idea that Windows users would ever need a Python interpreter seemed asinine, so why create another security hole by including something that won’t be maintained properly?
It’s due to this reasoning that many Windows users who decided to give Python a go pre-update might have been greeted with this warning screen:
Dower also echoed my point about beginners and hobbyists encountering the above warning of death when he said, “It’s much more likely that someone will hit this problem the first time they are trying to use Python. Many of the teachers we spoke to confirmed this hypothesis – students encounter this far more often than experienced developers.”
So Microsoft fixed this issue by allowing the Python community to release new versions to the Microsoft Store. For example, python3 and python3.7 would be readily available for download. What’s even better is that a python command won’t give the inane warning you would have gotten prior to the May update. Instead, you’ll be directed to the Python store page.
I finally might give Python a try one of these days.