Wanted: Console Text Editor for Windows


(This is a guest post by Antoni Sawicki aka Tenox)

Since 2012 or so, Microsoft has been pushing concept of running Windows Server “headless”, without GUI, and administering everything through PowerShell. I remember sitting through countless TechEd / Ignite sessions year after year, and all I could see were blue PowerShell command prompts everywhere. No more wizards, forms, dialogs. MMC and GUI based administration is suddenly thing of a past. Just take a look at Server Core, WinPE, Nano, PS Remoting, Windows SSH server, Recovery Console and Emergency Management Services. Even System Center is a front end for PowerShell. Nowadays everything seems to be text mode.

This overall is good news and great improvement since previous generations of Windows, but what if you need to create or edit a PowerShell, CMD script or some config file?

Oooops, looks like you are screwed. Seems that Redmond forgot to include most crucial tool in sysadmins, or developers job – a simple text mode editor. WTF Microsoft?

So, are there any 3rd party alternatives? Yes, and there are and quite a lot of them! Unfortunately none are perfect and most are old and unmaintained. This article aims to be a grand tour of whatever is available out there.

Note that throughout the article I will be repeatedly referring to a “portable” editor. For me this means a single .exe file, that can be carried around on a USB pen drive or network share. I also cry a lot about 64-bit Windows builds because I work a lot in WinPE and other environments where syswow64 is not available. 

First lets start with most obvious choices, well known through years. If you search for a Windows Console Editor VIM and Emacs will naturally pop up first. These editors don’t need any introduction or praising. I use VIM every day and Emacs every now and then. These two had ports to Windows for as long as I can remember and in terms of quality and stability definitely up top. The problem is that both are completely foreign and just plain unusable to a “typical Windows user”. The learning curve of weird key controls is pretty steep. Also portability suffers a lot, at least for Emacs. Both editors come with hundreds of supporting files and are massive in size. Emacs.exe binary is whopping 83 MB in size and the zip file contains two of them just in case. Whole unpacked folder is 400 MB. WTF.

Emacs on Windows Console

VIM is fortunately much much better you can extract single vim.exe binary from the package and use it without much complaints:

VIM on Windows Console

When talking about about VI and Emacs hard not to mention some more historical versions. Emacs’ little brother MicroEmacs has been available for Windows since earliest days. I’m not going to attempt to link to any particular one since there are so many flavors.


VIM little brother VI also comes in different shapes and forms. Lets take look at a few.


Elvis on Windows


XVI on Windows

Stevie is a very special case. Rumor has it, this editor played crucial role in development of Windows NT itself and has been included since earliest days of NT as part of the Internal Developer Workstation. Because it was ported by folks at Redmond the quality should be pretty good. Unfortunately README states “this is an incomplete VI that has not been fully tested. Use at your own risk.”. For a historical note according to Wikipedia, Stevie port to Amiga has been used by Bram Moolenaar as a base source code for VIM.

Stevie for Windows aka NT VI, part of Internal Developer Workstation

One particularly interesting case is VI editor from Watcom compiler suite. It has very nice TUI known from MS-DOS editors, syntax highlighting and online help. One of nicest versions of VI available for Windows. Small portable and just all around handy editor. This is probably my main to go text editor when working on WinPE or Server Core. Unfortunately not very well known. I hope it can gain some popularity it deserves.

OpenWatcom VI Editor

Thanks to Federico Bianchi just learned that there is a BusbyBox port to Windows having both 32bit and 64bit builds, 100% portable as just a single exe file! Most importantly it contains a working vi editor that understands window resizing and Win32 paths. I’m going to be keeping this one around. Awesome job Busybox! As a last thought I wish they also included Nano.

BusyBox Win32 VI Editor

I don’t want this article to be all about VI and Emacs clones. Let this nice color menus be a segue to more native Windows / DOS editors at least departing from hardcore keystrokes and Unix.

For a change in theme lets look at SemWare TSE Pro, the editor that originally started as QEDIT for DOS and OS/2. It has most advanced features one could ever imagine for a text mode editor. Including resizable windows, hex editor, macros and spell checker. I really wish I could use it in everyday’s life. Unfortunately TSE has some drawbacks, it lacks portable version and install is little cumbersome. Currently no x64 build but the author is working on it. TSE is not free, the license is $45 but it allows to install on as many machines as you need. UPDATE: TSE is now Freeware!

SemWare TSE Pro

Next one up is Brief. It used to be very popular in it’s own time and sparked quite bit of following as there are numerous of editors being “brief style”. It’s a nice and small console based text editor. It comes in two versions basic (free) and professional (paid). The pro version supports splitting in to multiple windows regexp and unicode. Unfortunately it runs at $120 per user and there is no 64bit build or a portable edition.


There also is an open source clone of Brief called GRIEF. Flipping through the manual it has very impressive set of features including $120 windowing feature and macros. Unfortunately it’s rather unportable due to large amount of dll and other files. 64bit build could probably be made if someone wanted.

GRIEF free Brief Clone

As we talk about less costly options there is Kinesics Text Editor aka KIT. It’s more well known if you search on google, completely free and after installing you can find and a x64 binary file! This makes it somewhat portable and able to run in WinPE for instance. Until recently the editor did not have 64bit version so I did not have chance to use it much in practice but the TUI appears to have a well rounded easy to use (F1 or right mouse click brings menus). It does’t seem to have any advanced features but it’s very stable and actively maintained. And frankly this is what matters for editing on the console. It may actually be the right missing Windows console editor.

Kinesics aka KIT

Another one is Minimum Profit. It’s fully open source and it supports a lot of platforms in both windowing and text mode. It has a lot of interesting features such as syntax highlighting, spell checked and menus. It can’t be easily made portable as it needs a lot of files of it’s own scripting language. I also find that screen refresh is somewhat funky. UPDATE: 64bit version now available!

Minimum Profit

Lets look at somewhat well known FTE. It’s a very nice text editor available on many platforms such QNX, OS/2 and of course Windows. It has nice TUI, split windows, syntax highlighting, folding, bookmarks and tools for HTML authoring etc. Overall awesome editor falling short only to TSE. Support for NT console has been available since 1997. I have recently fixed couple of bugs and built a 64bit portable version.

FTE Editor

One could also not forget Borland Turbo C IDE. Apparently there is an open source clone of the IDE as a regular editor called SETEdit. It’s multi platform editor with MS-DOS style windows and menus. Syntax highlighting macros and all regular amenities. Looks like DOS version can play MP3 songs while you code. There is a native WinNT build made with BCPP. To run on Windows you install the DOS version then overwrite dos exe file win NT exe. The editor is absolutely awesome, unfortunately currently doesn’t work in a portable manner and there is no x64 binary. However as it’s open source it could be probably made.

SETEdit a Borland Turbo C IDE Clone

When talking about MS-DOS style windows, Norton Commander like file managers come to mind. There is one particular built specifically for Windows – FAR Manager. Written by author of WinRAR, originally shareware, but since 2007 it has been released under BSD license. FAR does come with a built in text editor hence it’s featured here. It’s actively supported and developed, and because it’s designed from ground up for Windows, it’s probably most stable and trustworthy of all applications in this post. I normally don’t use it that much, but I do keep a copy of it lying around when I need to do some more heavy lifting from Windows console. There is a 64bit binary by default but unfortunately FAR can be hardly made portable as it comes with 400 files.

FAR Manager Text Editor

When talking about Norton Commander clones lets not forget Midnight Commander, which does have an unofficial native Windows console build called mcwin32. Similar to FAR, MC has a very nice built-in text editor. MC overall seems far nicer than FAR but because it’s multi platform rather than WIndows specific and not officially supported I don’t trust it as much for day to day use.

GNU Midnight Commander

When on topic of Unix, lets talk about GNU Nano. In it’s native habitat, it’s very popular and stable editor making it a perfect choice for a text mode console. Unfortunately Windows port is lacking quite a lot, especially for things like resizing Window or handling file names. The official build looks like a fusion of cygwin, mingw, pdcurses and other horrible stuff. Version that comes with Mingw/MSYS is not portable and so far I failed in attempts to build a static windows binary by hand. Nano predecessor UW Pico unfortunately never did have console terminal Windows port. Authors of Pine decided to make it semi graphical application with it’s own window, menus and buttons. Sad story for both Pico and Nano. Hopefully one day someone will make a 100% native Windows port.

Another non-vi and non-emacs Unix editor with Windows console port is JED. Frankly I have not used JED that much in the past although I did play with it in the 90s. This is the original web page of Jed editor. It does seem to have menus and multi windows. Unfortunately doesn’t look like it can be easily made in to a portable image.

JED Win32 Port

Yet another more obscure editor is ED-NT which is DEC EDT clone. Unfortunately seems to be completely dead an unmaintained. Sources are still available through archive.org so perhaps it could be still looked after if someone wanted EDT editor on Windows.


When going through obscurities via archive.org one can also mention ZABED and more specifically Z95 which is a 32bit console version. I don’t know anything about the editor and I’m little too lazy to play with it extensively although pdf manual is available. Probably little too old and too obscure for every day use.


Perhaps even more obscure to a mere mortal is The Hessling Editor aka THE. It’s based on VM/CMS editor XEDIT. I did briefly use VM/CMS and XEDIT in early ’90 but I never liked it so much. THE comes in as a native Win32 binary. Not easily portable as it requires some additional files. Also no 64bit binary but source code is available.

THE aka The Hessling Editor

Thanks to Andreas Kohl I have learned about X2 Programmers Editor which also has NT console version. The editor seems very nice and has extensive help, syntax highlighting, etc. Unfortunately I have never used this editor before. Last version has been released in 2008 which is not loo long ago but sadly there has been no update since. I hope the author will continue to maintain it.

X2 Programmers Editor

Andreas also brought up Personal Editor, which comes as PE32 and PE64. Looks like really well maintained and stable editor designed and developed specifically for Windows. 64bit bit version is really cool however the editor doesn’t seem to be portable and $40 license will probably prevent me from using it professionally in environments where I would need it. Never the less looks like a very fine editor!

Another find is e3 editor. Pretty interesting stuff. It’s written in assembler and available on many operating systems including DOS and Windows. Looks like it’s still maintained as last version was released in 2016. It supports multiple modes, Wordstar, Emacs, Vi, Pico and Nedit by renaming or linking the main executable. It’s definitely portable as it doesn’t need any extra files and the exe is just 20KB (take that emacs!). Unfortunately because of assembler I don’t think there will be a 64bit release any time soon. Overall seem to be really cool to keep this one around.

e3 editor

A really cool last minute find is public domain TDE – Thomson-Davis Editor. Released not so long ago in 2007 it has 16, 32bit DOS and 32bit Windows console executable. It has DOS style menus,syntax highlighting, resizable windows and bunch of other features. Looks like a very handy editor. I don’t know how did I miss it. Since source code was available so I was able to make a x64 build. This is really untested so use at your own risk!


Also a recent find – shareware editor called Aurora. I never had a chance to use it in the past but after taking it for a quick spin I fell in love. The text mode UI it feels like it’s own windowing operating system! Originally for DOS, Unix and OS/2, Win32 port is relatively new. Unfortunately it’s no longer maintained or even sold. This is very sad because the editor is extremely cool. I hope the author may be willing to release the source code so it could be maintained.


Thanks to Richard Wells I have learned about OSPlus Text Editor. It’s a really cool little editor with Borland style TUI and multi windows. It doesn’t seem to have any advanced features but it does have a built in calculator and allows background play of WAV and MID. Also allows format conversion of various formats like Word, Write or RTF in to text using Microsoft Office converters. Pretty cool if you need to read Word based documentation on the text console. Sadly looks like the application is no longer maintained. I guess with little bit of luck a 64bit version could be compiled using Mingw64 or MSVC.

OSPlus Text Editor

Also recently learned about HT. This is more intended as a binary/exe/hex editor and analyzer. However it seems to have an excellent plain text editor with HTML and C syntax highlighting. It doesn’t have very advanced features but one that stands out is a very detailed change log, much like Photoshop History. It shows you what exactly has been changed and in what order. This is pretty cool when doing heavy editing of some important files. The latest version is from 2015 and it’s 100% portable single exe. Unfortunately no x64 but I guess it should be easy enough to build one with Mingw64.


Just in, freshly “re-discovered” – Microsoft Editor. This editor is a Win32 port of Mark Zbikowski’s port of Z editor to MS-DOS. It has been widely used with Microsoft C as M, MEP and and OS/2 SDK as SDKED. Shockingly looks like Windows NT did actually have a console mode text editor since it’s earliest days or even earlier. Included in Windows NT pre-release CDs and later on the official Windows NT/2000 SDKs, hiding in plain sight, was a Win32 console mode MEP.EXE. Only if Microsoft included this editor with Windows itself the world would be a different place. I have recently dug it out of SDK and made available here. There also are additional builds (including x64) here. There is a dedicated blog post about it.

Microsoft Editor aka MEP aka Z

As with many commercial editors there is an open source edition of Z named K_Edit. It is a modern re-implementation from scratch written in C++ and LUA. It builds only on 64bit Windows and there probably is no chance for any other version. As of today author of K doesn’t provide ready binaries but I was able to make one myself.

K editor on Windows 10 x64

Reader brdlph pointed me to a pretty fresh editor named Textadept. It’s a cross platform, both GUI and TUI editor. Windows console version uses Curses, but it performs remarkably well. It has a look and feel of a modern programmer’s text editor with syntax highlighting, line numbers, etc.  The zip archive comes with over 400 files so it’s rather not portable. Also there seem to be no Windows 64bit build although there is one for Linux. The application seem to be very well maintained and the latest release is from January 2018!


Reader Andreas Kohl mentioned SlickEdit, which was a text mode editor for DOS, OS/2 and Windows console (before Visual SlickEdit stole it’s name). According to the company’s employee an OS/2 version of the editor was used by some Windows NT team members to develop their operating system. In early days, SlickEdit CTO traveled to Redmond to port the application to a barely yet functioning NT console system so that the developers could use native dev environment. SlickEdit was most likely the very fist commercial application for Windows NT. It was available in 386, Alpha, MIPS and PowerPC editions. I’m hoping to obtain old evaluation copies. So far I was able to get this screenshot:

SlickEdit on Windows 10

Last but not least, a new kid on the block, is Micro. It’s a “modern times editor” for all platforms including Windows. It looks really cool and seem to have all recent amenities from editors such as Sublime Text or Atom. Multi windows, syntax highlighting and even it’s own built in terminal emulator for running a subshell. Micro is 100% portable and comes in as a single x64 exe file. It’s 10 MB size but I think well worth keeping around. Unfortunately it doesn’t have built-in file browser. Yes, there is a plugin for it but I don’t know how to use it. Also seems to have issues with Windows style path names. However I’m really happy that a new editor has been developed in recent times. It has a great chance of becoming the missing Windows text mode editor for the future! Definitely worth keeping an eye on it.

Micro Editor

With this positive news it’s time to wrap up. To summarize there currently is no perfect text mode editor for Windows. I hope that Microsoft can one day step up and provide one. In the mean time I usually stick around to OpenWatcom VI and FAR Manager. For people who do not wish to learn VI, Kinesics KIT may probably be the most perfect editor in short term and Micro in the future. I also hope someone can make a good GNU Nano port using native Win32 APIs without going to pdcurses and cygwin.

Thank you for all suggestions! Have I forgotten or missed any editor? Please let me know and I will promptly add it to the list! Note: please do not include editors that work under Cygwin.

Yori Editor

Yori – The Perfect Windows Console Text Editor Has Been Found!

Summary: just perfect, new and well maintained. Works on all Windows editions!

Wendy Krieger recently brought to my attention FreeDOS Edit port to Win32. Overall pretty solid text editor that essentially is edit.com replacement. It’s little dated (2007) however as source code is available it could be freshed up and also build for 64bit and other architectures.

FreeDOS Editor port to Win32

Vikonix sent me his Multitextor editor. The author has rewritten his old text editor to support modern Windows which is pretty cool! A modern from scratch editor is always a good thing! Unfortunately the editor is still beta and not fully released yet. I hope the readers can help Vikonix to beta test and make a release!

Multitextor editor

TVedit which is an “example” editor from Tvision, a modern port of the classical Turbo Vision framework. Works on both Windows and DOS. They provide binary releases for x64 Windows here. The editor is an awesome straight forward replacement for edit.com. No configuration options or any features. Just a perfect editing experience! Unfortunately while the editor works pretty well on Windows 10, there are some screen display issues on Windows 7 and it plain doesn’t start on Windows XP. Also worth noting that there is another text editor using Tvision framework called Turbo. It looks like pretty awesome text editor but doesn’t look like it supports Windows at the moment and there are no releases. Maybe in future?

TVedit on Windows 10

73 thoughts on “Wanted: Console Text Editor for Windows

          • You might want to have another look at JOE. There is now a native windows port of the editor with source code available. This editor is a close clone of the old Word Star editor. Although the function keys and the disk directory part of Word Star are not included in this editor. The pop up help menu and the ctrl keystrokes are. This editor has different operating modes that are called through the use of symlinks in a unix environment or the renaming of the binary file on other platforms that don’t support symlinks. Since Win10 has hard link support, it could probably be used in lieu of symlinks.

  1. “Thats biggern than W” … typo?

    JED and VILE are very good, but my favorite (for years) has been TDE. JED has excellent mouse support, but VILE is a good alternative for buggy environments where TDE keyboard handling isn’t correct.

    Just so you know, TDE was based upon DTE. I think FTE also used some code from that. And VILE was based upon MicroEmacs! (I’d be very surprised if VILE isn’t 64-bit clean although it hasn’t had a full release since 2010.)

    Although it hasn’t been updated since 2009, you could also try JASSPA MicroEmacs “zero install”: http://www.jasspa.com/zeroinst.html (or try their JASSPA NanoEmacs).

    Not sure about ED-NT, but one new site of his seems to be here: https://sandmann.dotster.com/cwsdpmi/ . No obvious link to /EDstuff/, but try emailing him? Dunno, haven’t heard from him in years (although I did pester him to build a DJGPP .EXE for 1.6, but that too was in 2009). EDIT: Here’s a newer mirror (has 1.7 from 2013): http://web.archive.org/web/20130816044043/http://homer.rice.edu/~sandmann/EDstuff .

    Another derivative of JOE is JUPP, but it seems even its “portable” build is partially Cygwin-based (uses its own local main .DLL).

    You could probably rebuild E3’s e3.c (from old 2.7.1) as 64-bit if you don’t mind WS keys only.

  2. There’s HT Editor (https://sourceforge.net/projects/hte/ and http://hte.sourceforge.net/, but the latter doesn’t work right now, I think SourceForge are doing maintenance). It’s not a very fancy text editor, but it can do hex editing too. On Linux at least it’s portable in terms of being a single executable, and on Windows it didn’t need any installation when I used it in the past. For Windows, they only provide 32-bit binaries, but I don’t recall having any trouble building my 64-bit binary on Linux, so I guess it shouldn’t be too hard to build a 64-bit Windows executable.

    I used Aurora in the past, it’s certainly powerful and also very pretty!

  3. I don’t want to screw up your wonderful research, but I’m not a fan of artificially complicating things.
    Why not just use the familiar Notepad.
    Works great on any server.
    Many greetings

  4. Hi!
    I really like FTE, and I’ve been using it for many years. Recently I moved to a new computer and Windows 10, and now I have problems. If you try to run the compiler (RunCompile or Compile), you get error 0xc00000142 for any compiler or program (RunProgram does not work OK). I downloaded and tried your version (https://github.com/tenox7/ntutils/tree/master/fte), but the result is the same for both 32 and 64 bit.

    I think that you checked your version of the editor and can advise me what to do (maybe I’m doing something wrong). I really hope for your help.

    Thank you very much in advance!

  5. > FAR can be hardly made portable as it comes with 400 files.

    Thanks, I laughed.
    Setting aside the fact that I carry Far around daily on my work thumb drive for last 20 or so years, FAR since v.3 made explicitly portable, no longer dependent on the registry settings (sadly, I must say, but…).
    And it’s infinitely extensible with addons and scripts. Both file manager and editor. (You forgot to mention, that the coloring library for Far is provided by addon, and is the most advanced one.)

  6. Thank you for digging up and reviewing all these console text editors!
    Some of those are definitely worth a test-drive …

    Currently I do only have experience with FAR Manager and nano. A few comments on those 2:


    I am running a stripped down version of FAR (after a lot of testing), consisting of these 4 files:

    Contents of Far.exe.ini:

    (Upon running FAR for the first time, it will create a Profile folder with a couple of small setting files in it)

    With that setup, the FAR filemanager, editor and fileviewer (recommended replacement for the MORE and TYPE command, btw) work without any problems. Probably some exotic options are not available, but so far I can’t say I miss anything (except for line numbering, but that is also unavailable in the ‘full version’)

    Run the editor standalone with command: FAR.exe /E filename.txt
    Viewer standalone: FAR.exe /V filename.txt
    MORE replacement: dir | FAR.exe /V –


    An older version of nano (https://nano-editor.org/dist/v2.5/NT/nano-2.5.3.zip) is compiled without mingw (as far as I can tell, as I’m no expert (by far!)). At least it is prtable…
    Instructions on how to compile are in the zip.

    • Far is useless without addons.
      No source coloring, no archive support, no network browsing, nothing.
      Not even a temporary panel.
      I see no reason why would you kill your own experience like that.

  7. The semware editor comes with a text-mode interface, but i think it constructs its own console. It adds onto the gui version. I use both. Its highly portable, I use it in WinPE sessions, and the essentials fit onto a 1440 floppy. Even without its masses of files, you can still have the macros you want. So you can have sort separately. You can run just the exes or have the balance in a direction set with “config.mac”.

    For the file manager, I use Brian Harvard’s ‘file commander’ http://silk.apana.org.au/fc.html which also will fit onto a floppy disk. This exists in 64bit and Linux versions too, one licence covers all versions. It is portable too. I have used this on WinPE. Like Norton Commander, the editor is built-in, as well as a lister.

    For another freeware editor, there is also the ‘reactos edit’ program, a port of the freedos editor to win32. While you’re there, you can grab hold of the device manager and ctm (console task manager).

  8. Since 1993 start 8-16 bits release TDE – Thomson-Davis Editor is my primary editor. Even C#, C++ MS projects latest works, only use VS for command line build. I see tenox has tdew-x64.exe build but do not know what build env and tools was using in the https://github.com/tenox7/ntutils/tree/master/tde Any one could kindly provide pointer of *TDE x64 build tool chain and environment information* ?

  9. Hey,
    Does the FTE x64 binary that you created support Syntax Highlighting? I ran it under PowerShell looking at a bash script but it didn’t highlight anything.

    Cool selection of editors! Thank you.

  10. Hi

    Always nice to see others looking at quick console based tools. I have taken to using eXtreme File Manager (Senh Liu – http://textmode.netne.net/Extreme.html) with Kitart for menus, and have been searching for a customizable powerful editor.

    I like FTE and am grateful to you for compiling some modern binaries of FTE.exe. However, these are of limited use without a compatible compiled binary of cFTE.exe to compile the configuration files.

    Would you consider creating the missing link?

    Kind Regards


          • Wow this seems to be working I can run GW Basic on 64 bit win 10!
            also ED.exe (was 18k now 93k but win 10 can do it)
            ed.exe to eed.exe
            br.com __>> bbr.exe
            ubibm32.,exe –>>uubibm.exe works great like basic but with 2600 digits of precision

            you made my day!

          • It’s one of those awesome ‘hidden’ things. Although the name conveys what it does, it makes it hard to find.

            I’ve used it to get old build tools going where I don’t have source or it’ll be too much work to make Win32 or Win64. Although it’s 100% C cpu core, it’s not going to win any benchmarks, but it’s GREAT to lean on. There is also run68 with will run an incredible amount of x68000 CLI based tools. I used it to run the assembler & linker for the SHARP C / GCC port on Win32. Although I’m 99% sure this one is newer.

            I found a store in Akihabra that sells many of the x68000 fixes and stuff. I’m going to take my broken x68000 there and see if I can get it going. Although what I think I really need is a RGB 23 pin monitor. Sigh.

    • I was able to find a single executable for Xtreme, but unfortunately the website itself is completely unavailable and no sign of the developer.

      The Xtreme executable also triggered a Webroot error, but it seems to be safe.

      It is a nice Xtree/ZTreewin clone.

  11. Many years ago, in the beginning of the 90s, we had a x86 something in our house and my dad had menu application where I could press the shortcut and the game would start, it ran on top of MS DOS, any body knows what it could be and have any information about it?

    The application was run ontop of MS DOS, it had a blue background and a centered menu system with 2 columns and maybe 4 rows and then you could turn the page so to say and you would have many menu pages.

    Also we used Norton Commander, which was really nice.

  12. Great article.

    However, I think the solution needs to come from Microsoft and whatever it is, it needs to ship as a Windows feature that can be enabled on the command line just like you can already choose to enable and install OpenSSH Server on recent Windows versions.

    Anything that requires installation of a third party binary from a third party source is a huge problem, as most production environments are locked down with device guard, rightfully so blocking execution of any third party binary someone tries to execute on the host.

    If I had a choice, I’d want Microsoft to package up vim as a Windows feature the same way they packaged up OpenSSH. vim is a standard if not THE standard for text editing on the console and with the victory march of Linux and other UNIX variants in the cloud and elsewhere, it’s great to just one set of muscle memory commands when editing stuff.

    • As I said in the article vim is only standard if you are a hardcore unix geek. People who come from Windows world would have a steep learning curve. Not to mention that nowadays most Linux distros call for editing files with Nano. I would much rather see something akin to MS DOS Edit, Nano or Micro.

        • I was thinking about it too and that kind of ui falls on the other extreme. I think it may have problems working over serial connections, ssh, non-ansi terminals etc. I’m thinking something akin nano would be the best. I’m actually thinking about getting source of pico editor from alpine and replacing all terminal routines with native windows.

          • That would be interesting. There was a native MS-DOS port of PICO back in the day.

          • I’ve been working on a Win32/Win64 rewrite of a clone of MS-DOS Editor for a while, probably inspired by your interest in this topic. I haven’t posted the code to GitHub yet, but it’s getting really close.

            SSH works decently. As you probably know, recent versions of Windows have support to implement a traditional console and translate the result into a VT100 stream so that a Win32 console program can be used over SSH. It’s generally good although can be a bit lossy – calls to hide the cursor don’t seem to work and there’s no mouse support, but other than that, it works.

            I’ve been following the original MS-DOS 5 version, which only supports one document, but that seems sufficient at least at first. The hard part is figuring out how to expose things that people expect now that the original didn’t have to consider – eg., how to allow the user to select an encoding and line ending, etc.

            As of this writing the 64 bit version is 78Kb, and like everything else in Yori, it runs on all versions of Windows NT and its successors.

            Once I have the basics there, I’m hoping to also add a mode for hex editing. But it’s still just a mini, easy to use, text editor that runs everywhere, as opposed to a programmer’s editor like vim.

          • OMG Thank you so much! I wish this was 1991 and it shipped with Windows NT. This is absolutely epic!

            BTW Please do not add mutifile support or any thing like that. Other editors have that. I wish rather this stays small and simple. Only perhaps find/replace and line numbers would be handy. Maybe status line with positions, mode, etc. Oh and maybe msdos/unix/utf file formats?

          • Just as an update, the latest release now supports undo/redo (this is harder than it sounds), searching backwards, selecting drives in open/save dialogs, optional “modern” (notepad style) navigation, and piles of key combinations.

  13. Malcolm that is great you working MS-DOS Editor for Win64. I’m working on Interface Manager Project. I’m not that close being finish but i’m taking time on. I update you on my Progress.

  14. Nice rundown.

    I skimmed through, and didn’t see UltraEdit:

    Or MultiEdit:

    I can’t remember which it was but, whichever of those two it was, I tried it and it was very slick and intuitive. I only didn’t buy it because emacs is free.

    You also neglected the legendary Sam, sometimes appears in nostalgic programmers’ list of “best ever programmer’s editors”.

    “VIM is fortunately much much better”

    You will pay for this.

  15. None of these work over a PSRemoting session. Has anyone seen an editor similar to GNU ED for powershell? which will work over a PSRemoting Session.

  16. Hi Antoni,

    Regarding the Turbo Vision-based editors, the binaries you found are out of date. This was my fault for not giving more information in the project’s homepage, something I’ve just fixed (https://github.com/magiblot/tvision#downloads ). Sorry for the inconvenience.

    The issue with console fonts on Windows 7 was already fixed some time ago. For Windows XP support, you’ll have to use the executables built with Borland C++, at the expense of Unicode support.

    The second editor you mention, Turbo, is also supported on Windows (https://github.com/magiblot/turbo#downloads ), although only on Vista and later.


  17. File Commander is a Norton Commander clone written by Brian Havard. It’s similar to Far Manager but there are also OS/2 & Linux ports of FC in addition to 32-bit & 64-bit Windows versions. It has a built-in text editor with syntax highlighting.


    FC version 2.4x was previously shareware but the recent 2.5x development versions are now freeware. From what I understand the author ultimately plans to make it open-source.

  18. About the X2 Programmers Editor I’ve used this for donkeys years! At http://tangbu.com/ a 64-bit version 2.21.2 was released Oct 20 2021. Extract the files from the exe, and only needs x64.exe, xwutils64.dll, and (for F1 Help) x.hlp (from xwnt.zip) to make this editor portable.

  19. Mentioned earlier here Epsilon is the way to go. Emacs concepts and keystrokes (fully programmable though in a C dialect, not elisp) – it has worked great in console windows on Windows for 20+ years. It’s also really compact and has always been extremely _fast_. And back then Emacs on Windows was an enormous pig which, when it worked correctly – and it frequentl didn’t – was slower than molasses in winter.

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