Microsoft Releases the First Preview of the Nostalgic Windows 95 PowerToys with Two Utilities

Rafia Shaikh
microsoft powertoys 0.55.1 windows 95

Microsoft has released the first preview and code of PowerToys utilities for Windows 10. The installer is now available for download.

The Windows maker announced the reboot of this Windows 95 utilities set in May this year as the company started to focus more on power users with a number of these announcements, including a custom-built Linux kernel for Windows Subsystem for Linux and a tabbed Windows Terminal.

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“Inspired by the Windows 95-era PowerToys project, this reboot provides power users with ways to squeeze more efficiency out of the Windows 10 shell and customize it for individual workflows,” Microsoft had said.

First PowerToys preview released with two utilities

PowerToys is finally available for download, with the first preview release carrying two utilities with all the code now on GitHub. If you aren't sure how this works, Microsoft recommends heading over to GitHub as the repo also "contains the information and tools you need to understand how the PowerToys’ utilities work together and how to create your own utilities."

You will need to download the installer (link). Microsoft added the following instructions:

The main PowerToys service runs when Windows starts and a user logs in. When the service is running, a PowerToys icon appears in the system tray. Selecting the icon launches the PowerToys settings UI. The settings UI lets you enable and disable individual utilities and provides settings for each utility. There is also a link to the help doc for each utility. You can right click the tray icon to quit the Power Toys service.

The first two utilities include Windows key shortcut guide and a window manager called FancyZones.

The Windows key shortcut guide is a full screen overlay utility that shows all available Windows key shortcuts and what action those shortcuts will take for the current state of the desktop. Users will have to press and hold the keyboard Windows key for 1 second for the overlay to appear showing keyboard shortcuts that use the Windows Key. These include shortcuts for changing the position of the active window, common Windows shortcuts, and Taskbar shortcuts. More details on the Windows key shortcut guide are available here.

FancyZones, the second utility, is a window manager that makes it easy to "arrange and snap windows into efficient layouts for your workflow, and also to restore these layouts quickly."

FancyZones allows the user to define a set of window locations for a desktop that are drag targets for windows. When the user drags a window into a zone, the window is resized and repositioned to fill that zone.

"When the PowerToys project was first announced this spring, we didn’t think the reception would be as enthusiastic as it has been," Microsoft's Dev Platform Team wrote.

The project started with just an empty repo, with a roadmap and a place for power users to provide suggestions and ideas. However, over 4000 users starred the repo, showing a strong interest in the project. Given this enthusiasm, we’re anticipating many developers will want to contribute to PowerToys, and we’ve made sure that the documentation, project architecture, and tools are ready for the community to dive in.

For more details, check out this introductory piece and then head over to GitHub for contribution guidelines. You can download the installer from this link.

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