TeX was a groundbreaking software-based typesetting system when Donald Knuth released it in 1978, and it remains popular, especially in academic and scientific publishing. MiKTeX is an up-to-date implementation of TeX for Windows. It adds a Windows installer and setup wizard, program updates, and an integrated package manager that can retrieve missing components online and install them automatically. It also includes a full suite of associated programs, fonts, templates, and tools, such as Yap, a DVI file viewer. MiKTeX is open-source freeware that runs on Windows 7, Vista, XP, and Server, but not on Windows 2000 or earlier versions. It's available in installed and portable versions as well as a MiKTeX Net version that can run MiKTeX on a network. We looked at the standard installed edition, MiKTeX 2.9.3972.
MiKTeX 2.9 is a much larger download than most current versions of 70's survivors, mostly because of its many extras. The installer let us set up the program for a preferred paper size; we opted for the default selection, the common A4. MiKTeX 2.9 includes many fonts and utilities, but the Package Manager makes it easy to install and remove the items in the extensive library via a simple, searchable list view. MiKTeX 2.9 uses the pdfTeX typesetting engine, which can output documents in the PDF format, which is more convenient for most users than the proprietary LaTeX format. The basic program interface is TeXworks, a simple tool for editing LaTeX documents. We quickly created and edited a document in TeXworks using one of several basic templates and pressed Ctrl-T. In no time, MiKTeX 2.9 displayed a PDF document with a Brief Article template ready to be filled, edited, typeset, and printed in a high-quality print job.
While MiKTeX 2.9 is hardly difficult to use, it's much geekier than the typical Windows app. However, we were impressed with MiKTeX's Windows features, such as the way the Package Manager fetched any files and tools we needed. The software project's Web site offers excellent documentation, including a FAQ page that makes the best introduction to this new take on a sophisticated, versatile, and enduring typesetting environment. The long-running TeX Users Group (TUG) also offers extensive information, advice, links, communities, newsletters, and more.