I think that one of the biggest things missing from the Windows desktop is a software package manager. I’m not pointing fingers at any one responsible party, but I just think it’s a missing feature that in 2011 we should have seen by now. Linux has had it for years. OS X now has it with its own software store. Where is the one for Windows? And please spare me that Live Marketplace stuff. It’s not even close to the same thing.
No, we need a real software center with real made for Windows application. As with most things new and innovative, the answer has come from an open source project called Npackd. The software provided in this software numbers 600+ and is all freely downloadable or open source in nature. This, is nice! This means that if it’s free to install (iTunes, Windows Live Messenger, Wink, etc), it’s likely listed within the available repositories.
Good, but not perfect
The single biggest issue I found with Npackd is the lack of being able to navigate categories. I realize this is bit of extra work to implement, but it’s like Ubuntu One offering music streaming without a playlist. It’s a real deal breaker. Because in order to use Npackd successfully, you either have to browse 600+ apps or know what you’re looking for. It kind of puts a damper on any sense of discovery, in my opinion.
Software management made easy
Looking back at my experiences with the software, it’s easy enough as long as you treat it like you would the Mac software store. If you remember to only use it to uninstall software installed by the tool, never software installed manually, it can be lot of fun to use. I certainly don’t think there is any question that a tool like this is a welcome option for Windows users. After all, installing software is a matter of select, click the big + sign, and then install. Once you’ve done this, the software handles all of the heavy lifting for you.
Does this adequately replace our old way of installing software? Well, in its current form I’ve found that Npackd is close, but the issues outlined above must addressed first. Not only that, but there needs to be a simple way to get new applications added for inclusion as well.