Say Farewell to Putty as Microsoft adds an OpenSSH Client to Windows 10

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Microsoft Windows OpenSSH Client Cover
Microsoft Windows OpenSSH Client Cover

Ask just about any *NIX admin using a Windows laptop and they will have come across Putty. For years, Apple MacBooks have been the go-to choice for many admins partly because getting to a ssh shell is so easy. The newly re-invigorated Microsoft is changing how easy it is to interface with Linux (and other *NIX flavors) significantly with features like Ubuntu on Windows. There is a new beta feature in Windows 10 that may just see the retirement of Putty from many users: an OpenSSH client and OpenSSH server application for Windows.

Installing the Windows OpenSSH Client

Since this is not the best-documented feature, and still one in Beta, we made a quick video of the installation process.

If you do not want to watch go to “Manage Optional Features” then + “Add a feature”. You can then scroll down the list and find the OpenSSH Client (Beta) and OpenSSH Server (Beta) features in Windows. The idea of running another remote service on Windows can be daunting so we do not blame you if you do not want to install the server.

Once installed, you can simply fire up your command line and use the OpenSSH client by typing ssh followed by the command such as ssh ubuntu@someIP.

Microsoft Windows OpenSSH Client
Microsoft Windows OpenSSH Client

Here is the current (as of November 28, 2017) ssh command usage guide we are getting with the Windows OpenSSH Client:
C:\WINDOWS\system32>ssh
usage: ssh [-46AaCfGgKkMNnqsTtVvXxYy] [-b bind_address] [-c cipher_spec]
[-D [bind_address:]port] [-E log_file] [-e escape_char]
[-F configfile] [-I pkcs11] [-i identity_file]
[-J [user@]host[:port]] [-L address] [-l login_name] [-m mac_spec]
[-O ctl_cmd] [-o option] [-p port] [-Q query_option] [-R address]
[-S ctl_path] [-W host:port] [-w local_tun[:remote_tun]]
[user@]hostname [command]

For most admins, this is going to be extremely easy to transition to.

Final Words

Many of our readers use higher-end terminal solutions like MobaXterm Professional. At the same time, when you just need a SSH session, being able to launch via the standard Windows command line is awesome. Microsoft is clearly taking steps to make the IT admin’s job much easier, and this is one simple example where Windows is making great strides. For those who use Putty as the simple SSH solution on Windows, those days are numbered.

35 COMMENTS

  1. I use Putty for its proxy tunneling and x forwarding abilities. I doubt the windows ssh client will do these things.

  2. I like putty because it can save sessions and settings for each server and I don’t see those features anywhere in this.

  3. I’ve been using the OpenSSH client when I’ve been forced to use Windows for some time now – way better to use than putty …

  4. Yes Microsoft, Linux has won. You’ve resisted bravely but well, it is time to give in. Congrats, ubuntu and now OpenSSH were good first steps.

  5. Until the internal shell client has a tabbed interface not only is putty here to stay but i use a wrapper called superputty to give me a tabbed interface for ssh on Windows.

  6. I’ve been using cygwin and its ssh client. Lots of *nix command line goodness with cygwin. But I’ll check out Microsoft’s version of ssh.

  7. hah, mine is even more native with ubuntu for windows. I managed to create a dos cmd script that starts ubuntu and pipes all params through. I even managed to start dos using wine again from linux and run xming putty on windows.

  8. I use MremoteNG as a putty manager, unless they support tiled SSH sessions that remember their last positions, I am not going to move.

  9. Want to commandline-install then use the below command. Easier and faster than the tutorial video 🙂

    Elevated powershell.exe
    Get-WindowsCapability -Online | Where-Object{$_.Name -like “OpenSSH.Client*”} | ForEach-Object{ Add-WindowsCapability -Online -Name $_.Name}

  10. @Manuel: if only! “git for windows” is still just msys git (mingw64). Still has all the cygwin path-parsing weirdness, funky git alias handling, etc.

  11. Get-WindowsCapability -Online | Where-Object{$_.Name -like “OpenSSH.Client*”}

    Does not show it to be available in 1703, but I see it on Win 10 version 1709. Is this expected?

  12. I don’t know if it is an error (in your video) or a difference in Windows version/settings/whatever but on my PC, ssh is installed in C:\Windows\System32\OpenSSH

  13. @Bertold Kolics ssh-keygen and ssh-agent both read from %userprofile%\.ssh\ and I’d assume you’d need to save the keys from putty-agent into that folder and run ssh-agent at some point.

  14. Sorry but I don’t see how a rudementric ssh client can replace PuTTY. I certainly will continue to use PuTTY as I have a lot of different machines to access from my Windows hosts and PuTTY just makes it so much easier to switch between hosts.
    Not to mention that PuTTY works nicely in connection with WinSCP, which I uses at least as much as PuTTY itself…

  15. @Bitbeisser PuTTY is a GUI, that’s why. You’re just using a easy GUI to do things. Although I do agree that the host switch is pretty nice.

    @william You’re implying… that the ORIGINAL ssh client… will ever have tabs? Are you really that crazy?

  16. > For those who use Putty as the simple SSH solution on Windows, those days are numbered.

    Well, I don’t see a reason to switch from production ready PuTTY to a half-finished ssh implementation from Microsoft – except if you enjoy working with software full of bugs.

    And who knows when (or if) it will leave the beta phase, so “those days” might become a very long time…

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