windows console: spawn new process

posted by alexis reigel on january 19, 2011

Under linux spawning a new process is as easy as appending an & to the command. In windows it’s not (obviously). I pretty quickly found out about the start command. Not as elegant as the linux version, but still pretty intuitive. Or, wait, not? It took me half a decade to find out how to use it properly.

First i had a look at the help output, which can be invoked by the switch /?. I’m not 100% sure, but i have in mind that this switch isn’t really standardized, i think I also had to use /h or /help in the past. Anyway, that’s not the sad part yet.

console start

Reading through that, all you have to do is call start my_command. Easy huh? No. It’s not.

After digging around this article lead me to the solution: “title: Text for the CMD window title bar (required)”. Title! Required!
Let me say that again. Title! Required!
First thought: Why? Why is a title required? A title is clearly something optional, especially when you’re starting a GUI application.
Second thought: Why? Why is that “required” not stated as such in the help output? Not the slightest hint in the help output. And furthermore, isn’t it a convention that required parameters are NOT surrounded by brackets? Don’t brackets mean “optional”? Apparently, in the windows tooling environment all this does not apply.

I know, windows is a GUI centered OS, and therefore the console didn’t evolve as nicely as it did in other OS’s. Nevertheless, every time I have to work on a console or write a batch file it gives me the creeps. Everything is so unbelievably clumsy. At least I found out about the Console project, which is a pretty decent replacement for the windows console. Copy/paste works as desired with keyboard shortcuts and you can resize the window. Resize the window! How cool is that! But that’s a different story…