Who put Python in the Windows 10 May 2019 Update?

Steve Dower

Steve

Today the Windows team announced the May 2019 Update for Windows 10. In this post we’re going to look at what we, Microsoft’s Python team, have done to make Python easier to install on Windows by helping the community publish to the Microsoft Store and, in collaboration with Windows, adding a default “python.exe” command to help find it. You may have already heard about these on the Python Bytes podcast, at PyCon US, or through Twitter.

As software moves from the PC to the cloud, the browser, and the Internet of Things, development workflows are changing. While Visual Studio remains a great starting point for any workload on Windows, many developers now prefer to acquire tools individually and on-demand.

For other operating systems, the platform-endorsed package manager is the traditional place to find individual tools that have been customized, reviewed, and tested for your system. On Windows we are exploring ways to provide a similar experience for developers without impacting non-developer users or infringing publishers’ ability to manage their own releases. The Windows Subsystem for Linux is one approach, offering developers consistency between their build and deployment environments. But there are other developer tools that also matter.

One such tool is Python. Microsoft has been involved with the Python community for over twelve years, and currently employ four of the key contributors to the language and primary runtime. The growth of Python has been incredible, as it finds homes among data scientists, web developers, system administrators, and students, and roughly half of this work is already happening on Windows. And yet, Python developers on Windows find themselves facing more friction than on other platforms.

Installing Python on Windows

The Windows command prompt showing an error when Python cannot be found It’s been widely known for many years that Windows is the only mainstream operating system that does not include a Python interpreter out of the box. For many users who are never going to need it, this helps reduce the size and improve the security of the operating system. But for those of us who do need it, Python’s absence has been keenly felt.

Once you discover that you need to get Python, you are quickly faced with many choices. Will you download an installer from python.org? Or perhaps a distribution such as Anaconda? The Visual Studio installer is also an option. And which version? How will you access it after it’s been installed? You quickly find more answers than you need, and depending on your situation, any of them might be correct.

We spent time figuring out why someone would hit the error above and what help they need. If you’re already a Python expert with complex needs, you probably know how to install and use it. 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 we made things easier.

The header of the Python 3.7 page in the Microsoft Store

First, we helped the community release their distribution of Python to the Microsoft Store. This version of Python is fully maintained by the community, installs easily on Windows 10, and automatically makes common commands such as python, pip and idle available (as well as equivalents with version numbers python3 and python3.7, for all the commands, just like on Linux).

The Windows command prompt showing that "python3.7" now launches Python and "pip3" launches pip

Finally, with the May 2019 Windows Update, we are completing the picture. While Python continues to remain completely independent from the operating system, every install of Windows will include python and python3 commands that take you directly to the Python store page. We believe that the Microsoft Store package is perfect for users starting out with Python, and given our experience with and participation in the Python community we are pleased to endorse it as the default choice.

Scott Hanselman on Twitter: "WHOA. I'm on a new copy of Windows and I typed Python - on a machine where I don't have it - and it launched the Windows Store into an official distribution I can install in a click. WHEN did this happen. I love this." We hope everyone will be as excited as Scott Hanselman was when he discovered it. Over time, we plan to extend similar integration to other developer tools and reduce the getting started friction. We’d love to hear your thoughts, and suggestions, so feel free to post comments here or use the Windows Feedback app.

 

Steve Dower
Steve Dower

Software Engineer, Python

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43 comments

  • Avatar
    Niko Strijbol

    I know this is probably too much work for one release of Windows, so it’s a nice interim solution, but wouldn’t it make more sense to create a decent official package manager for Windows instead of having to include shims for who knows how many programs?

    • Steve Dower
      Steve Dower

      Yep, we’re definitely not going to get into the “let’s have hundreds of shims” game. But it was worth it for this one to see whether the workflow actually works.

      And the challenge with an official package manager is that someone needs to produce the official packages 🙂 The advantages are that we know that users aren’t going to be stuck with broken products or installs if they all go through the store, but of course it takes more effort for the package publishers. Getting one example out there should help us see which approach to take in the future.

  • Avatar
    Jackson, Dan

    What about LTSC versions of Windows that don’t have the Microsoft Store? Should we just continue to use python.org or Visual Studio installers, or will there be a way to sideload this official version onto 1809 LTSC (for example)?

    • Steve Dower
      Steve Dower

      If the python.org installers are fine, I’d say keep using those (they are also the ones that the Visual Studio installer includes, so it doesn’t matter which of these you use).

      But if you have a use case for getting the MSIX file directly so you can sideload it, the best place to share it would be by filing a bug at https://bugs.python.org/ asking for them to be published as a separate download. They could be made available on python.org as their own download, but the need would have to outweigh the confusion when people download them by mistake and have to figure out what to do with it.

  • Avatar
    Shawn O. Eary

    I know I’m a bit odd, but I would personally rather see the Glasgow Haskell Compiler and Interpreter installed into MS Windows by default than something named after an ugly snake.  I’ve used Python before and honestly I don’t care for scripting languages that lend themselves to tons of runtime errors.  I tend to prefer more strict languages like F# and now Haskell for “automation” tasks.  While it’s disappointing that F# seems to have “failed to thrive”, I would be interested if Microsoft reattempted to create a *pure* Haskell.NET that wasn’t polluted by Microsoft’s attempt to appeal to the masses.
    DISCLAIMER: My comment does not represent the oppinions of any of my current or former employers.

  • Avatar
    Vitali Supruniuk

    So how do we fix existing installations now? When I run python via command line it always opens Microsoft Store, this new feature affected hundreds of our vms.

    • Steve Dower
      Steve Dower

      For that many machines, you probably want to put your own Python install higher in PATH (at least higher than the WindowsApps folder, possibly even into the per-machine section if that makes more sense). The Python installer normally puts it high enough that this isn’t an issue.

      If the machines are being used interactively, uses can use the “Manage App Execution Aliases” page to disable the alias. Then your regular python.exe will be found even when it is later on PATH.

      • Avatar
        Albin Gustavsson

        Yeah, I’m not really sure how you didn’t realize that adding applications that is not installed to the PATH is an absolutely terrible idea. Having a store with a proper package management backend is Great! Just don’t implement obviously bad things like installing shortcuts before the app is installed potentially breaking existing installs.

      • Avatar
        Chris Goldsmith

        Not a great Idea guys – breaking peoples development environments by putting something in the path that hijacks something that is already installed – via the store or from python.org should have caused a little head scratching.

        :thumbs down: for this approach

  • Avatar
    Lennart Borgman

    Could you please tell the version number of Windows 10 where this way to setup python is included? (I can’t see the “python.exe” in my path. And I have just checked Windows Update again. I have the latest update of Windows 10, the latest I can get right now, at least.)

    • Steve Dower
      Steve Dower

      It is part of version 1903, which started rolling out the same day this blog was posted. Apparently you should be able to get it by checking for updates, but it’s possible that you have some piece of hardware that isn’t compatible yet and so it’s being blocked. You’ll have to contact support for help with that, I’m afraid. It’s more than we can do via blog comments

  • Avatar
    Mayeul Cantan

    That’s an interesting and welcome development, I am curious to see it unfold.
    But please, do tell me that “Python” and “pip” launch Python3 and pip3 by default, respectively. Python2 is EOL at the end of the year, so if you really need to include it, that’s the one to postfix with a “2” 😉
    Archlinux does it right, in my opinion 🙂

    • Steve Dower
      Steve Dower

      What’s Python 2? 🤡

      Yes, we’re only recommending Python 3 releases from the core Python team, not any of the legacy ones. People who know they need old versions know how to get them, while this is targeted at people who aren’t quite sure where to begin and most of the online docs aren’t helping them.

  • Avatar
    Chris

    I wonder about how visual studio copes with installing and developing for python and it’s interoperabilities with code in java, powershell, etc…

    • Steve Dower
      Steve Dower

      When you install the Python workload, Visual Studio 2019 handles Python very well.

      Interoperating with other languages is up to the languages though, so you’d need to get in touch with those communities to ask about that. Visual Studio is really just an editor, not a runtime.

  • Avatar
    Jan Gazda

    Hi, this is exciting news!But I suspect something is missing (or am I missing something?) “every install of Windows will include python and python3 commands that take you directly to the Python store page.” I just did fresh installation of win10 with May update and executables are not in PATH or missing entirely 🙁

    • Steve Dower
      Steve Dower

      The link itself comes through a default store package called App Installer, so that may still need to be updated. Depending on how quickly you tried it, you may have been faster.

      If you open the Microsoft Store app and get all updates, that ought to set it up.

  • Avatar
    Morten242 .

    While I appreciate it a lot I’m seeing some problems actually using this thing from programs like cmake. Having the shim in path isn’t enough for it to be actually picked up and used, I need to manually specify the path to the actual installation. Just picking the shim ends up with an error about the system not being allowed to access the file.

    • Steve Dower
      Steve Dower

      This is likely something to do with how cmake is launching Python, rather than Python itself.

      Do you have an issue on their repository you could link for me so I can help them look into it?

        • Steve Dower
          Steve Dower

          (Sorry for the delay – didn’t realise this was held up by our spam filter because of the two links.)

          I can’t post to the cmake thread, but my suggestion would be to check “python -V” for a successful exit code (0) and if that fails, treat Python as if it’s not available on PATH. Users who then interactively run “python” will get taken to the Store.

          Those who have manually modified their own PATH to put a Python install at the end will need to update their configurations to move it up in priority (or use Manage App Execution Aliases to disable the global commands). Directly deleting the files is not going to be reliable, as Windows Update will just put them back.

  • Avatar
    Brian W

    Great work!  Any chance of getting Ansible working natively without WSL?  Microsoft makes VSCode and the Ansible extension, so I hope this is on the roadmap.

  • Avatar
    Andrew Boyd

    permission problems running install from WindowsStore
    python -m pip install –upgrade pipCollecting pipDownloading https://files.pythonhosted.org/packages/5c/e0/be401c003291b56efc55aeba6a80ab790d3d4cece2778288d65323009420/pip-19.1.1-py2.py3-none-any.whl (1.4MB)100% |████████████████████████████████| 1.4MB 3.2MB/sInstalling collected packages: pipFound existing installation: pip 19.0.3Uninstalling pip-19.0.3:Could not install packages due to an EnvironmentError: [WinError 5] Access is denied: ‘c:\\program files\\windowsapps\\pythonsoftwarefoundation.python.3.7_3.7.1264.0_x64__qbz5n2kfra8p0\\lib\\site-packages\\pip-19.0.3.dist-info\\entry_points.txt’Consider using the --user option or check the permissions.

    python –user andrewb -m pip install –upgrade pipunknown option –userusage: python [option] … [-c cmd | -m mod | file | -] [arg] …Try `python -h’ for more information.

    • Steve Dower
      Steve Dower

      Hi, yes, this is a known issue. We’re waiting on pip to make a release that can be bundled with the next version of Python to fix it.

      Until then, use the “pip” command directly, or use “python -m pip install –user …”.

  • Avatar
    Joan Canals Gil

    Very nice but …
    from PyQt5 import QtWidgets, QtCoreImportError: DLL load failed: The specified module could not be found.

    • Steve Dower
      Steve Dower

      This is something that PyQt will have to fix (see this item in the 3.8 release notes, which also applies to 3.7 from the Store). Numpy and scipy have already fixed it.

      Unfortunately the best workaround until PyQt fixes it is to install Python from python.org instead.

  • Avatar
    Jeff Ratcliff

    Just successfully installed the May 2019 Windows Update but python, python3, and python3.7 are still unrecognized commands. Perhaps this added feature only applies to a prerelease insider build. It’s also an easy mistake to make if one is a developer and has altered the PATH for python sometime in the past before installing the update.

    • Steve Dower
      Steve Dower

      We deliver the commands through a store app (“App Installer”), and those update in a second background step via the Microsoft Store app (or you can go there and force it).

      In most cases, it’ll happen quickly enough that you won’t notice, but immediately after upgrading you might. Probably by now it’ll be there for you 🙂

  • Avatar
    Zhe Li

    I installed Python from the Microsoft Store shortly after a fresh installation of Windows 10, and found that python says MSVCP140.dll is missing. Obviously the store version does not check if VC++ 2015 redistributables are installed (while the python.org installer does). Something you should improve on.

    • Steve Dower
      Steve Dower

      Yes, the CPython team has already fixed this. They’ll be releasing an update that will remove the dependency with 3.7.5.

      The python.org installer does not have this issue – neither of them will install the DLL.

      • Avatar
        abhishek_simhadri@outlook.com

        Hi Steve

        I purchased a Lenovo Flex laptop which has Windows 10s. I tried to install Python 3.7 and Ubuntu 18 from the Microsoft appstore. Both are not working. The same MSVCP140.dll issue (mentioned by Zhe above).

        Do I have to move from Windows 10S to the regular Windows 10? Is it not possible to setup a dev environment on Windows 10S?

  • Avatar
    Karl O. Feger

    Is there any idea out there, where the cobde 0x80070005 in the store comes from when trying to install Python on my 10Pro-machine? Google didn’t help on this.

    • Steve Dower
      Steve Dower

      Hi Karl. I saw this myself yesterday, and I believe Windows is having trouble replacing the existing shortcuts. I was able to work around it by opening “Manage App Execution Aliases” and disabling the existing python.exe and python3.exe items there before installing.

      This looks like a new OS bug, and we’re investigating. If you are able to confirm it works for you after disabling the shortcuts then that would be helpful.

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