Microsoft announces improved support for Symlinks in Windows 10

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A symlink is a pointer to a file or folder located elsewhere, consumes little space and is very fast to create when compared to copying a file and its contents. Developers use symlinks referencing physical files/folders instead of duplicate copies of shared files/folders to save physical disk space, and reduce the time taken to copy/backup/deploy/clone projects.

Symlinks are already supported in many operating systems like Linux, FreeBSD, OSX, etc. Even Windows started supporting symlinks from Windows Vista, but due to security requirements, users needed local admin rights and, importantly, had to run mklink in a command-line console elevated as administrator to create/modify symlinks. Due to this restriction, Windows developers were not using symlinks and many modern cross-platform development tools works less efficiently and reliably on Windows. Microsoft is fixing this issue with Windows 10 Creators Update. Starting with Windows 10 Insiders build 14972, symlinks can be created without needing to elevate the console as administrator.

Microsoft highlighted the following reasons for including symlinks support in Windows 10,

  • Modern development projects are increasingly portable across operating systems
  • Modern development tools are symlink-aware, and many are optimized for symlinks
  • Windows developers should enjoy a development environment that is at least the equal of others

Learn how to create symlinks here.

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