Package managers can make installing and configuring applications on Windows very easy. Like apt-get, Homebrew, or yum on Linux and macOS, you can use Chocolatey or the Windows Package Manager (winget) on Windows 10 and 11.
Read on as we discuss Chocolatey and winget in detail and help you decide the better option.
What Does a Package Manager Do?
A package manager is a software that easily automates the installation, upgradation, and configuration of third-party software or dependencies. They also feature a vast catalog of software (or packages) you can choose from and install with just a single command on the terminal. These programs can be bundled into a project or exist as a stand-alone third-party application.
Managing the installation and upgradation of multiple tools within your project can become quite frustrating because you need to ensure your system is compatible with third-party software. If you were to integrate and update each third-party software manually, you’d be wasting a good chunk of your valuable time managing the software dependencies.
Like yum or apt-get on Linux, a package manager for Windows can help you download the latest software without worrying about software compatibility or malware. With just a single command on PowerShell or the Terminal, you can easily download the software you need.
You can summarize the main features of a package manager to download software on Windows as follows:
- Finding the correct source files for your platform.
- Ensuring software is free of malware and other security vulnerabilities.
- Adding relevant software dependencies to your Windows PC.
- Allowing seamless installation, updation, and removal of software.
What Is Chocolatey?
Chocolatey is the most popular open-source package manager within the Microsoft Windows ecosystem. As a third-party software, it excels as an automated tool that installs the right software into your PC in a simple, quick, and cost-effective manner.
Software developers also typically use Chocolatey to quickly download the required dependencies without wasting time on the intricate installation process for each third-party tool on a complex Windows environment. You can set up and use Chocolatey through the Windows command line or PowerShell.
What Is the Windows Package Manager (winget)?
Microsoft's take on a package manager in the Linux vein is called the Windows Package Manager, or winget, as it is more widely known. winget is an open-source command-line tool package manager introduced in 2020 with Windows 10. It offers Windows users access to a large selection of installable apps.
Microsoft has ensured that the Windows Package Manager is open-source and accessible on GitHub, just like other popular package managers (Yarn, NPM, Chocolatey). The Windows Package Manager was launched with Windows 10 as an alternative to Chocolatey—the powerful third-party open-source package manager used by the Windows community.
Feel free to refer to our detailed guide on using winget in Windows 11.
Chocolatey vs. winget: Which Should You Use?
Chocolatey has been around for over a decade and is widely used by Windows users. On the other hand, winget was released only in 2020, does not have a broad customer base, and is unfamiliar to Windows users.
The Windows Package Manager is relatively newer but makes a solid case for itself as an alternative to Chocolatey.
1. Which One Has the Best Features?
Chocolatey offers three main products—Chocolatey for Business, Pro Edition, and Open Source.
Chocolatey for Business is aimed at enterprises that want to integrate an automated package manager within their DevOps workflow and manage multiple Windows environments seamlessly. Enterprise users can utilize Chocolatey to automate their Windows software lifecycle. These special commercial licenses are available for enterprise users and offer many important features.
The Open Source edition of Chocolatey uses the largest registry of Windows packages and bundles all your deployment dependencies into a single compiled file. It is the preferred option for regular Windows users wanting to automate app management.
If you’re an individual user but would like a more premium experience, you can switch to Chocolatey Pro Edition for additional features such as runtime malware protection and reliability.
Regardless of your chosen Chocolatey edition, you can create new packages, use existing ones, and integrate Chocolatey with different infrastructure tools.
Winget, in contrast, is quite simple. You can create or upload new packages in the YAML manifest, download apps from the Windows repo, and configure them as you see fit. Additionally, winget is also available for developers and independent software vendors.
Like winget, the open-source edition of Chocolatey lets you download apps from the registry, upgrade apps to the latest version and configure them through the command line. Chocolatey offers a greater variety of features to cater to its diverse customer base, whereas winget is focused on simplifying software installation for regular users.
2. Which One Costs More?
As mentioned earlier, the Windows Package Manager is an open-source tool available for free on Windows 10 and 11.
Chocolatey’s Open Source edition is also free, but Chocolatey for Business (C4B) and Chocolatey Pro are paid. Chocolatey does not authorize organizations to use Chocolatey Pro, so enterprises will have to either use the open-source edition or purchase C4B.
3. Which Has the Best Available Software?
Chocolatey hosts the largest Windows software registry with over 9,500 community-maintained packages via its Chocolatey Community Package Repository. Google Chrome, Adobe Reader, Notepad++, and Microsoft Teams are all easily accessible via Chocolatey.
Microsoft’s Windows Package Manager Community Repository does not contain as many packages as Chocolatey’s, but it supports widely used software such as 7-Zip, Google Chrome, and others.
4. Which Is Easier to Use?
In terms of usability, it isn’t easy to separate winget and Chocolatey. The Windows Package Manager is easily installed through the Microsoft Store (pre-installed on some editions of Windows 11). To get started, you can fire up the terminal and type in the relevant winget command.
Alternatively, you must download Chocolatey through PowerShell by changing some execution policies. If you would rather avoid using the command line interface to use Chocolatey, you can benefit from Chocolatey GUI. It’s an easy-to-use app that lets you view available Chocolatey packages and install them directly through the GUI.
5. Which Has the Best Community Support?
Since Chocolatey has been around for over a decade, it has a larger community. The official docs at Chocolatey also make it easier to get started with Chocolatey.
In contrast, the Windows Package Manager community is somewhat limited, and Microsoft’s docs aren’t easy to understand for beginners.
Chocolatey vs. winget: Our Verdict
Chocolatey is very powerful and serves a wide range of Windows customers, whereas winget is better for casual users who want to simplify installing applications on Windows. Chocolatey has better community support, a larger software registry, and some pretty cool features that can take your team’s software development lifecycle to the next level.
If you’re an enterprise user or someone wanting an improved package manager for Windows, you should opt for the business or premium edition of Chocolatey. For casual users, the open-source edition of Chocolatey is good enough to make installing applications on your Windows PC easier.