back to article Microsoft Notepad: If it ain't broke, shove it in the Store, then break it?

It's the summer holidays. A good time to do things while nobody's watching. Except The Register, of course. Aside from sneaking Notepad into the Windows Store, last week Microsoft gave Insiders a new 2020 Windows 10 build, added features back into Skype, rounded out Azure's persistent disk storage and prepared a Typescript …

  1. Buzzword

    Notepad subjected to Store updates - even on Windows Server?

    Spare a thought for us poor Windows Server users, who occasionally want to remote into a server and open a log file or config file in Notepad. There's not a chance in hell that any server will be connected to the Store, for the usual security reasons. What happens when the old Notepad is removed and replaced with a shortcut which automatically tries to launch Store?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Notepad subjected to Store updates - even on Windows Server?

      It'll prompt mounting a resource with Notepad++?

      Let's face it, the way Microsoft compiles you can probably add War and Peace to anything that uses a more efficient compiler and still have functionality that exceeds Notepad.

      1. NogginTheNog

        Re: Notepad subjected to Store updates - even on Windows Server?

        It's not that Notepad is good, it's that (like vi) it's always there.

        1. Dr_N Silver badge

          Re: Notepad subjected to Store updates - even on Windows Server?

          "It's not that Notepad is good, it's that (like vi) it's always there."

          Comparing VI to Notepad?

          Burn the heretic.

          1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
            Flame

            Re: Notepad subjected to Store updates - even on Windows Server?

            Is this an ecumenical burning, open to vi fanatics and Notepad fanatics alike?

            1. Ken Shabby Bronze badge
              Devil

              Re: Notepad subjected to Store updates - even on Windows Server?

              Pagans, the one true editor IS emacs,

    2. Franco Silver badge

      Re: Notepad subjected to Store updates - even on Windows Server?

      Use wordpad, which also lurks in the background and generally I only ever remember it exists when I try to open a file that's too large for Notepad. Don't have a 2016 or higher server to hand to check, but it's certainly still there in 2012 R2.

      1. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: Notepad subjected to Store updates - even on Windows Server?

        Wordpad comes with baggage that I actively don't want, though.

        1. Franco Silver badge

          Re: Notepad subjected to Store updates - even on Windows Server?

          Agreed, but it is another built in option for when you can't get anything else on to a server.

    3. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: Notepad subjected to Store updates - even on Windows Server?

      Windows Store isn’t even an option on Server 2019

    4. vtcodger Silver badge

      Re: Notepad subjected to Store updates - even on Windows Server?

      I should think that any server is going to need some sort of resident basic text editor to sort things out if one manages to break the configuration beyond the ability to talk to the Store. Maybe Microsoft will ship with edit.com or edlin if they actually remove Notepad.

      How does one deal with Windows (hypothectical) inappropriate attempts to use the Store? Beats me. Probably something in the registry. I gave up on Windows decades ago. I'm not smart enough to deal with it. I doubt anyone is.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Notepad subjected to Store updates - even on Windows Server?

        I should think that any server is going to need some sort of resident basic text editor to sort things out if one manages to break the configuration beyond the ability to talk to the Store. Maybe Microsoft will ship with edit.com or edlin if they actually remove Notepad.

        They stopped shipping EDLIN.EXE a while back, but real men use "copy con > myfile.txt" anyway.

        :)

        1. JohnFen Silver badge

          Re: Notepad subjected to Store updates - even on Windows Server?

          "real men use "copy con > myfile.txt" anyway."

          I just did that yesterday!

    5. Timmy B Silver badge

      Re: Notepad subjected to Store updates - even on Windows Server?

      Nowhere does anything I read say it won't be installed by default. Just that it'll be updatable separate from the OS. This is a really good idea.

  2. The Central Scrutinizer

    Blink... Notepad?

    Even 20 years ago I thought it was a bit shit. Well, MS is in the turd polishing business.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Blink... Notepad?

      It did a job (simple text editor available on any Windows box) that allowed you to review logs, make simple config changes, get less technical people to grab command output to a file or simply cut+paste commands between hosts.

      Yes there are other ways of doing it, but you're not always in control of the other ways.

      1. Jesthar

        Re: Blink... Notepad?

        Exactly - sometimes simple is extremely useful.

        I don't do server stuff myself, but I still use notepad pretty much every day in my job - have yet to find a better way of stripping all formatting and hyperlinks off text in one swift move for moving between various applications, and I need to do that multiple times most days.

        1. NogginTheNog
          Happy

          Re: Blink... Notepad?

          I still use notepad pretty much every day in my job - have yet to find a better way of stripping all formatting and hyperlinks off text in one swift move for moving between various applications,

          I do the same, as when you copy/paste text from modern web apps it often comes with extra unnecessary formatting. I call it 'washing' the data.

          1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

            Re: Blink... Notepad?

            My partner recently got the piss taken out of her by a colleague for doing this when copying from a web page into a Word document. Ironically, it was a colleague who she had been tasked with showing how to format her customer letters better, and this is one of the most useful tricks to stop Word from making your letter look like a 15 year-old's school project.

            Apparently, I'd shown her how to do this a year or two ago, but the memory of doing so has completely gone from my mind. Probably because to someone who fights with computers* day-in and day-out, it's such an obvious thing to be doing.

            *This is the best decsription I can come up with that covers all the various and sundry things I get asked to do alongside what my contract of employment says...

        2. veti Silver badge

          Re: Blink... Notepad?

          https://stevemiller.net/puretext/

          You're welcome.

      2. swm Bronze badge

        Re: Blink... Notepad?

        Then there is ed (stripped down vi) which used to be everywhere.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Blink... Notepad?

      21 years ago I had to learn vi because that was the text editor we had on our sun workstations. Ever since then, I've installed it on every computer I have to regularly use. Fortunately for my colleagues, I'm not enough of a sadist to set it as the default text editor on shared workstations...

  3. Alumoi

    You just couldn't help it!

    Right up until someone decides that a ribbon toolbar, colour highlighting and a colossal speed decrease would be just the thing.

    Stop giving them ideas! Or does El Reg know something we don't?

    1. LDS Silver badge

      Re: You just couldn't help it!

      Tools like notepad++ implement more advanced features without being slower than Notepad. As long as they don't reimplement it in Electron or C# so you have to download 500MB to edit a single file, they can add some useful features keeping it small and fast.

      1. The Central Scrutinizer

        Re: You just couldn't help it!

        Geeezus Electron.... Like that god awful Atom editor. Slow as whatever you want to call it. And bloated as helll.

    2. David 132 Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: You just couldn't help it!

      I’ve always felt that what Notepad really, really needs is social media integration.

    3. simonlb

      Re: You just couldn't help it!

      Didn't they already do that when they brought out Wordpad?

  4. revenant Silver badge

    Leave the 'pads alone

    Sometimes all you want is 'simple'. Notepad, and Wordpad for that matter, have provided simple capabilities that are just right for personal things. For anything more complex or fancy, there's MS Office and Libre Office.

    I would hate to see either of them disappear or, worse, mutate into some ribbon-wearing monstrosity.

    1. hakuli

      Re: Leave the 'pads alone

      "I would hate to see either of them disappear or, worse, mutate into some ribbon-wearing monstrosity."

      Um, doesn't WordPad already have a ribbon? (Been there since Windows 7, I think?)

      1. revenant Silver badge

        Re: Leave the 'pads alone

        Aaagh you got me there! Scratch that ribbon bit with respect to Wordpad.

      2. PhilBuk

        Re: Leave the 'pads alone

        Copy the XP version into Win 7 - it still works. It doesn't have the 'improvements' that made the Win 7 version useless such as 1.5 line spacing that would revert every time it was restarted. Always use it for those text files from *nix systems that don't have terminating line feeds like DOS.

        Phil.

        Oh. And no fecking ribbon.

        1. katrinab Silver badge

          Re: Leave the 'pads alone

          The most recent version of notepad does support unix end-of-line characters, and it tells you in the status bar whether your file has Windows or Unix line endings. It doesn’t however allow you to save a new file in the Unix format though.

      3. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: Leave the 'pads alone

        Yep -- that's probably the main reason why I avoid WordPad. I swear that the ribbon is one of the worst UI elements ever.

    2. tony2heads
      Gimp

      Re: Leave the 'pads alone

      For complex or fancy use LaTex

      Image; sorry - wrong latex

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There are other things you can do with geo zone redundancy

    the arrival of Geo Zone Redundant Storage

    .. will also allow Microsoft to seamlessly share your contents with all those lovely agencies. After all, ECHELON doesn't see everything.

  6. SVV Silver badge

    Coming soon.......

    Notepad 365

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
      Linux

      Re: Coming soon.......

      Yep

      Notepad 365

      A real snip at $9.99/month

      If this ever comes to pass then we will really know that MS has totally lost the plot.

      {Most of us know that already but a move like that will just make the average punter sit up and take note and wonder if there is an alternative to what moneygrabbing MS is offering}

      [see icon for one option]

    2. Dwarf Silver badge

      Re: Coming soon.......

      Surely it will be Visual Notepad .Net 365 Premium Cloud Edition.

      The functionality will be the same as the old one, but it will only work with an always on cloud connection and somehow the download will be 14GB due to all the extra telemetry and adverts.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Coming soon.......

        Somehow? They will just make it Electron based due to how lightweight that is.

  7. s. pam
    FAIL

    F*ck Microsoft Notepad,

    Use Notepad++ a FAR better, more functional and useful product.

    The 2nd app I replace on any new PC is Notepad, the 1st, Internet Exploder!

    1. LDS Silver badge

      Re: F*ck Microsoft Notepad,

      Good luck when you have to work on a server you didn't install, without an internet connection, and when you have to work an a remote connection which doesn't allow you to access your local storage...

      1. s. pam
        Facepalm

        Re: F*ck Microsoft Notepad,

        Simples, always carry the latest version on a USB stick.

        Have you never been a consultant?

        1. NogginTheNog

          Re: F*ck Microsoft Notepad,

          Simples, always carry the latest version on a USB stick.

          Have you never been a consultant?

          Have you never worked on client systems where the USB ports are either locked down or you'll be out the door quicker than USB3 if you plug one into a server?

        2. genghis_uk

          Re: F*ck Microsoft Notepad,

          Good luck getting one of those into a secure site - even a semi-secure site will not allow external devices.

          As USB sticks are one of the main vectors for malware I would have thought that most client sites would be more careful. YMMV though.

        3. OGShakes

          Re: F*ck Microsoft Notepad,

          Have you never been warned about plugging in a USB stick to a server and the virus risk that is? Also in this age of virtualization and clusters it is unlikely the box is in the rack is the server you are looking at. If you turned up to consult at my company and wanted to plug in a stick so you can put notepad++ on a production server, once we had finished laughing at you, you would then not be left unsupervised during your visit so you don't do anything that would result in us having to use the cattle prod.

          1. N2 Silver badge

            Re: F*ck Microsoft Notepad,

            ...that would result in us having to use the cattle prod.

            That made me smile

        4. GerryMC

          Re: F*ck Microsoft Notepad,

          Not much use when the server is a VM on AWS, in another country.

        5. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: F*ck Microsoft Notepad,

          Simples, always carry the latest version on a USB stick.

          Have you never been a consultant?

          Wow. Back of the net. Own goal.

          Then again, I don't suppose it's a great idea to let consultants anywhere near your secure systems.

        6. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

          Re: F*ck Microsoft Notepad,

          Ah yes, consultants. IT "professionals" with all the professionalism of a coked-up salesdroid.

      2. NogginTheNog

        Re: F*ck Microsoft Notepad,

        Good luck when you have to work on a server you didn't install, without an internet connection, and when you have to work an a remote connection which doesn't allow you to access your local storage...

        ...and where policies forbid installing non-standard/freebie apps.

    2. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: F*ck Microsoft Notepad,

      Notepad++ is more full-featured. Which is why I use Notepad 75% of the time, instead.

  8. Erik4872

    Someone's pet project?

    Microsoft seems to be releasing a lot of these odd one-off things lately. VS Code is a really good example where (I'm assuming) someone's pet project ended up taking on a life of its own. All the cool kids are writing in JavaScript, so why not write a text editor that lives in Electron and requires a gigabyte of dependencies pulled from 1000 sources?

    I'm guessing it's because they're not constrained by the 3-year release cycle anymore, and the Windows OS itself is now a second-class citizen. So, they can emit anything they want, any time they want.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge
      1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Someone's pet project?

        Pick up beer.

        You now have the beer.

        Drink beer.

        You drink the beer, it is cold & refreshing. (& repeat).

    2. NogginTheNog
      Thumb Up

      Re: Someone's pet project?

      VS Code is a really good example where (I'm assuming) someone's pet project ended up taking on a life of its own

      The best one of those has to be RDCMan...

  9. karlkarl Bronze badge

    Move to the store for convenient updates...

    Microsoft has had since 1985 to finish "notepad". Surely it is feature complete by now? How much updating does such a simple text editor need?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Updating the copyright notice annually?

    2. Franco Silver badge

      "How much updating does such a simple text editor need?"

      This much updating apparently https://www.theregister.co.uk/2019/08/13/windows_notepad_flaw/

  10. Carpet Deal 'em Bronze badge
    Boffin

    First up in new stuff is the long overdue arrival of GPU temperature in the performance tab of Task Manager. The change sees the current temperature shown beside dedicated graphics cards in Celsius. Odd, considering the US-first approach usually taken by the software giant.

    I don't think I've ever seen anyone who cares about such things measure it any other way, regardless of region. Giving Fahrenheit as a secondary would probably be a good idea if they're just going to stick it in front of all and sundry, though.

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      One unit and only one unit

      After all, it doesn't matter whether the units mean anything to the average user. They could be in Rankine and it wouldn't matter to most users.

      What matters to everyone is whether the temperature is good, bad, or very bad and whether it's rising or falling.

      So stick to Celsius, because (as mentioned) it's the unit that everyone who cares about the actual numbers knows.

      100C is bad, while 100°F is very cool. It's helpful if the "It's over 100!" is unambiguously bad.

    2. phuzz Silver badge
      Happy

      I'd not thought about it until I read this article, but whenever I've seen someone discussing temperatures in a computer, they've always used Centigrade, it must be the standard, even for Yanks.

      It's a bit like how Americans use litres to measure engine capacity (as well as cubic inches or square cubits or something). Slowly they're learning to use normal units in specialist fields. Eventually they'll know how to use them all the time.

      1. JohnFen Silver badge

        "Eventually they'll know how to use them all the time."

        We're well on the way -- I know a dozen or so fellow Yanks who use metric for everything by default (including myself).

  11. bpfh Silver badge
    Holmes

    My couple of missing features from Notepad:

    1) Large file support - open big files without choking on them

    2) fast search/search and replace

    3) cr / crlf switching

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: My couple of missing features from Notepad:

      .. aaaand we're back to Notepad++ then..

      1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

        Re: My couple of missing features from Notepad:

        or metapad.

        After one too many frustrations with notepad's brain-damaged line-ending capabilities, I discovered metapad and never looked back. And it's only 190K, and about a third of that is simply the program icon.

        1. phuzz Silver badge
          Headmaster

          Re: My couple of missing features from Notepad:

          "notepad's brain-damaged line-ending"

          It's more broadly Microsoft's line-ending policy, and there is actually some reasoning behind it (believe it or not).

          ASCII is originally based on the (7 bit Baudot code) character encoding originally used in teletype machines, which was still used for early line printers (this is why *nix shells are called tty's). A teletype required both a Carriage Return and and a Line Feed in order to move the print head to start typing the next line in the correct place on the paper (CR moves it back to the left, LF moves it down one line).

          When computers stopped relying so much on actual teleprinters, they all adopted their own style of new line characters in text files. The *nix's, BeOS, RISC OS etc. went for just a LF. Windows, DOS, DEC, Atari TOS etc. kept the CRLF, whilst others went with a variety of other combinations (see here).

          TL/DR Marking a new line in a text file is done in many ways across different OS's, all relating back to teletypes. Microsoft's is no more "brain damaged" than any other (except BBC Micros which used LFCR which is just BACKWARDS and WRONG).

          1. sw guy

            Re: My couple of missing features from Notepad:

            I may add some details regarding ttys:

            As physical CR takes some times, some (most?) of them needed some padding characters to be inserted in flow to create a delay (usual padding character was NULL, ASCII 0).

            As soon OS decides to take action of padding insertion for itself (with description set somewhere in a printer database), there was no longer a need for end-of-line sequence to be more than one "well-known" character.

            Here you are.

      2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Re: My couple of missing features from Notepad:

        Two things that should be installed on any machine where you;re going to ahve to do any sort of diagnostics:

        NP++

        Fiddler (although I take issue with it's default handling of TLS settings, i.e. 1.0 on and 1.1 / 1.2 off)

      3. bpfh Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: My couple of missing features from Notepad:

        Notepad++ chokes on multi gig files too :(

        It ticks the other boxes though.

    2. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: My couple of missing features from Notepad:

      column select

      regex search

  12. J27 Bronze badge

    Good, I hope they put all the built-in apps in the store so I can remove any of them if I want to.

  13. JohnFen Silver badge

    No

    "the flexibility to respond to issues and feedback outside the bounds of Windows releases."

    Do not want.

    It looks like it may be time to start using a different barebones text editor instead.

  14. MacroRodent Silver badge

    Wrapper

    In case MS goes overboard with Notepad features, Notepad Classic would be easy to re-create, as it is little more than a wrapper around the Windows API text widget. This is probably the main reason it has not evolved: adding things not in the text widget requires adding lots of code.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wrapper

      This is probably the main reason it has not evolved

      Other reason could be because WordPad is basically Notepad evolved version. Not to mention, Microsoft is incentivized to focus on Microsoft Word.

  15. Czrly

    Could be worse. Could be ported to Electron.

    "Right up until someone decides that replacing it with an Electron app that weighs in at 120 MB, doesn't handle the INSERT key or even implement over-type mode and incorporates a colossal speed decrease would be just the thing." FTFY.

  16. bpfh Silver badge
    Coat

    What about DOS Edit?

    Remembers writing C in dos edit before compiling in Symantec’s "free for non commercial use" C compiler.

    Those where the days, 64 kB .com files, 640 kB is enough for everyone yada yada yada.

    Mines the one with the Intel 80286 and 80287 Programmer’s Reference Manual in the pocket...

  17. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    celsius

    Oddly, here in the states we still use fahrenheit for car temperature gauges and such and weather temperatures; but cpu and gpu temps are always in celsius. It sure makes it nice and confusing for someone to have 72 degree room temp but their CPU is running at 60.

    1. bpfh Silver badge

      Re: celsius

      Ahhh the difference between degrees Frankenstein and degrees Roman-Catholic. As a Brit born in the late 70’s, I got a lovely mix of feet and centimetres, weather forecasts in °F, maths exercises in °C, grandparents who had no idea on WTF my lessons were talking about, my father measuring precision parts in thous(ands of an inch), and finding the correct imperial spanner that fit the metric fasteners to mend the breaks or adjust the saddle on my bike...

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