Windows 11: Is Microsoft working on a sudo implementation?

Windows[German]Are the developers of Windows 11 working on an implementation of the sudo command familiar from Linux? At least there is an option to enable sudo in the developer settings of the new Windows 11 Insider Preview builds. Whether the sudo implementation known from Linux and macOS will make it to users, however, remains to be seen.


Discovery in leaked preview

I don't look at preview builds myself – but there are probably quite a few people who are eager to do so. Last weekend, a Windows Server Preview build seems to have been published on the Windows Update servers by mistake. Testers then noticed that Microsoft is probably testing native support for the sudo command for Windows 11 internally. This can be seen from the following tweet and this article from Windows Latest.

Windows 11 sudo command

The Windows Latest article contains screenshots showing the Enable sudo option under System – For developers in the administrator account. If the administrator activates the option, he receives a dialog box that warns that the sudo command could endanger the device and the personal data on the device.

What is sudo?

The sudo command stands for "superuser do" and is familiar from Linux and from macOS, which is based on the NeXTSTEP (Mach kernel) and FreeBSD 4.3. A user can use sudo to execute a program or a shell with the (elevated rights) of another user. In this way, a program can be executed with the rights of the superuser, who is allowed to do everything under Linux.

In contrast to the su command, the user does not need to know the password of the root administrator (superuser) and it is possible to configure which commands and programs may be called with sudo. Wikipedia provides a description of the special features of the sudo command here.


Im Gegensatz zum su-Befehl muss der Nutzer kein Kennwort des root-Administrators (Superuser) kennen, und es lässt sich konfigurieren, welche Befehle und Programme mit sudo aufgerufen werden dürfen. Die Wikipedia hält hier eine Beschreibung der Besonderheiten des sudo-Befehls vor.

Wikipedia also points out that the Windows option runas is not a real equivalent, as the password of the target account must be known. However, there appear to be implementations of sudo from third-party providers.

The user account control implemented in Windows since Vista is also not equivalent to sudo, as the password of the administrator account must be entered for most programs to elevate privileges.

Details still unknown

The screenshots shown in the Windows Latest article do not yet reveal too much about the implementation of sudo. There is only one option documented by screenshot, in which a developer can specify that sudo is to be executed in a new window, with disabled input option or inline.

If developer mode is enabled and the sudo option is activated, it should be possible to use sudo via command prompt, via PowerShell or via a terminal session under Windows. Microsoft may see a need for this implementation in conjunction with the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL).

Whether and when this implementation will really come for all users of Windows 11 is written in the stars. Personally, I have very mixed feelings about this, because for me it feels like "another little bar" is being added to Windows, which will cause later issues.

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