March 1, 2024

Max Buondonno/ZDNET

Update: As it turns out, Microsoft isn’t planning on bringing the power of sudo to Windows Server 2025 and, instead, plans on adding it to an upcoming consumer release of Windows 11.

According to the Microsoft Devblog for February 7, 2024, sudo has arrived in the Canary and Dev Channel for Windows 11 (for the Insider Program), with build number 26020. And, according to the Windows Insider Blog, the sudo setting found in Windows Server 2025 was an accident about which a  Microsoft representative had this to say:

Note: A setting that enables sudo may incorrectly appear in Windows Server Insider Preview builds, but the feature will not be enabled on Windows Server and the setting will be disabled in a future Server Insider Preview build.

The information you’ll find below will apply to the consumer version of the Windows 11 desktop but not the server version of the operating system.

Microsoft is taking steps to not only make the next version of Windows 11 more secure but also easier to administer. To do this, it is adding sudointo the mix.

You can already test the Windows 11 2025 build, but to do so you must have an Insider Preview Build and switch to Dev Channel, which will get you build 26052.1100 (versus the Canary Channel, which has build 26052.1000). The Dev Channel allows you to enable sudo via an on/off switch in the Settings app (which is only available after enabling developer mode). 

Also: The best Windows laptops

You’re probably thinking that Windows already allows privilege elevation with the UAC prompt. However, there are some commands and tools that still require you to be an administrator to use them. The addition of sudo will circumvent that. There is no indication yet whether Windows will allow admins to configure sudo similarly to how it can be configured in Linux; hopefully, Microsoft will make that a part of the system.

The addition of sudo has been released officially for the latest Insider build for Windows 11 and — one hopes — will remain a part of the operating system in future iterations. In fact, according to Windows Latest, it looks like the feature will be coming to Windows 11. In addition, it does appear that there will be some configuration options available for how commands run using sudo. You’ll be able to choose from In a New Window, With Input Disabled, and Inline. At the moment, it’s not 100% clear how those options will function.

What is sudo?

Anyone who’s used Linux knows sudo. For those who haven’t, it stands for superuser do and allows standard users to execute commands that would otherwise require the use of administrator privileges. Prior to sudo, to run commands or applications that require admin privileges, users would have to either log in as the root user or su to the root user account.

Also: The best Linux laptops

Sudo adds a layer of security to Linux that has gone unmatched by Windows for a long time. It allows admins to define what users can access admin privileges and even control what applications those privileges apply to. For example, you could restrict users to a specific command (such as apt) with a line like:

%sudo ALL=(ALL:ALL) /bin/apt

That line would be added using the sudo visudo command. It’s complicated but very possible.

This is a great step for Microsoft to allow easier administration of its operating system. Hopefully, it will enable Windows admins to get as granular with sudo as Linux admins do.