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Finally (?) change the backslash \ to a forward slash /?

    General discussion

  • In the beginning...  Way back in 1978, it was sort of a clever joke,
    and perhaps a way to distinguish MSDOS (and OS65-U, et.al) from UNIX.
    Now in 2009, it's time for give it up...  C'mon, the joke's over.

    Or is there some sort of usermod I can do to make the Win7 kernel interpret all forward slashes as backward slashes, such that the OS will then be "bi"?

    peace, -H
    Saturday, February 7, 2009 1:35 PM

All replies

  • /Taking off my Windows Beta hat for a second and speaking as a private citizen:

    You are asking for a Windows change that reverses a 25 year old behavior. This change would break tens of millions of applications that have been written in that time that must use backslashes, evaluate strings with backslashes, and use API's that only allow backslashes. How would Windows know when an application really wanted a forwardslash or blackslash, especially on a console app? Not to mention several billion windows users would also need to change their own behavior.

    I suggest you go propose on the UNIX/LINUX kernel newsgroups that they change their behavior to the far more commonly used Windows backslash. You're going to get some pretty interesting flames. :)

    /hat back on.



    Ned Pyle [MSFT] - MS Enterprise Platforms Support - Beta Team
    Saturday, February 7, 2009 8:32 PM
  • Hey Ned.  You absolutely do have a point there, especially about the "far more commonly used Windows backslash".  "Water under the bridge" I guess. 

    I so rarely use a *nix system anyway (only at work on occasion).  It's just been a pet peeve of mine since 1979 when I programed under Microsoft's OS-65-U (built for for Ohio Scientific?).  That little backslash was perhaps a "rage against the machine" at the time (1970's when MS was a Garage Band).  But now we have to remember when and when not to use it as in "//machinename/c:\directory\subdirectory\program.exe /options".

    You are absolutely correct.  As they say; "That train left the station long ago".  Thanks, -H
    Sunday, February 8, 2009 9:29 AM
  • Oddly enough, I've always been able to comprehend the fact that \ is a path marker and / is a parameter, and while I understand that *nix generally uses / and - respectively for those markers, I've always found the - to be more frustrating since you can name files with a - too.

    From a command-line and keyboard junkie, it's one of the differences I've always valued. :) In any case, I'm definitely not in favor of breaking 25 years worth of applications and scripts, lol.
    Monday, February 9, 2009 12:34 AM
  • I know this is a pretty old thread. But I felt like adding my opinion to it so that's what I'm gonna do...

    I'm with you, pal. I think, in a computer world that is (nowadays) widely based on online services and the web (which again is mostly based on UNIX-like operating systems) and an extensive use of hand-held devices like smartphones and tables (that are then again, mostly based on UNIX-like OSes) Ned's statement of the 'more commonly used Windows backslash' is plain wrong. I have accepted the fact that Window uses another way of handling directories. But every time I have to ESCAPE my directory separator because it also serves as the escape character I get really pissed! I mean... what the...?!

    Then again, I have to tell you that the backslash wasn't a joke just to piss people off. It was a simple solution of maintaining backward compatibility with IBM's software which used the forward slash as command line switches (instead of UNIX' dash). This was all necessary because MS DOS didn't know directories at all in the beginning. So IBM (who wrote most of MS DOS' software back then) decided to go for the forward slash as their switch character. When MS finally introduced directories, this character was already taken and they used the visually closest sibling of the forward slash, hence the backslash. So it's all about backward compatibility. And although it can be annoying sometimes, we'll have to accept the fact (and blessing) that there are different OSes and Windows just isn't UNIX and vice versa. It's a different technology and what's wrong with that?

    It isn't so much the backslash that annoys me, but rather the ignorance of people dismissing any other OS apart from MS Windows just out of a personal preference and stating untrue facts about "more commonly uses" things...


    • Edited by ArmIn L. _ Sunday, November 15, 2015 12:16 PM
    Sunday, November 15, 2015 12:12 PM
  •  far more commonly used Windows backslash

    That's a bold statement!

    AmigaOS used forward slashes, Mac uses forward slashes, Unix uses forward slashes, basically, the rest of the World uses forward including the Internet: http://localhost/ :) or do you use backslashes in URLs too?

    Even in Windows, there is a mix of forward and back slashes as already mentioned in this thread.

    So... maybe it is time to actually move on? Just don't be like Apple saying you don't need that and our solution is better... ;)




    • Edited by iaforek Thursday, April 19, 2018 12:45 PM Even your editor doesn't like backslashes!
    Thursday, April 19, 2018 12:41 PM
  • OK, I know this is a horribly old post. No flames please. I am a total shell person, I use the GUI as little as possible, I am just faster that way. I also spend a fair amount of time on Linux boxes. I would love to navigate the Windows file system using a forward slash, same as linux. It is simply a faster and easier key to find.

    So, what led me to this post was a google search to see if some clever soul had figured out a way to have a command shell automatically substitute a forward slash for a back slash when navigating the file system in a command shell.

    On a whim, I simply decide to try this "cd /users/username/documents" in a command shell and low and behold, it went there. No gripes, no errors, it was like it was normal. It even somewhat supports command completion via the tab key as well, but not as robust as using the back slash. I was surprised to say the least.

    Now it could be because I am an idiot and should have known this was a feature of Windows 10, again no flames please (at least be gentle). Or, it also might be that I have the Bash shell/Ubuntu installed on my Win10 box. Keep in mind, I did this from a command shell (C:\windows\system32\cmd.exe), not from the bash shell.

    Any comments on either my stupidity for not knowing this, or if it works for others, especially those without Bash/Ubuntu installed, or those on Windows 7?

    Saturday, March 16, 2019 2:41 AM