Getting started with Python is easy, you just need to download the Python installation package and install onto your computer.

Versions

As of this writing, Python 3.7 is the latest version, and all examples have been tested using Python 3.7.3. The original version of these articles was developed with Python 2.6, but I recommend that you use the latest Python 3 version if you can.

Which Python distribution should I use?

There are different ways to obtain Python for the Windows platform. Two of the most popular distributions are from the Python foundation and Activestate Software. For other alternatives, see the wiki page at https://wiki.python.org/moin/PythonDistributions .

Python.org

The site https://www.python.org, maintained by the Python Software Foundation, is the main portal for information on Python. Python.org contains news, documentation, information on the latest releases, download source for current and previous versions of Python, and binary install files for Windows. The latest version, as well as older versions of Python, can be found at https://www.python.org/downloads. This is the Python distribution that I typically use, the examples that follow are based on Python release 3.7.3.

ActiveState Python

ActiveState Software provides software solutions for individuals and businesses, including a complete download package containing Python executables and documentation called ActivePython. The package is non-open source and is available with an OEM license, which can be important in some corporate environments. Please refer to https://www.activestate.com/activepython for more information. Python luminary Alex Martelli offers a concise description of Why ActiveState in this StackOverflow post.

Build from Source

Source code for Python is available at https://www.python.org/downloads, and while it is possible to create a working Python installation for Windows by compiling from source, it’s beyond the scope of these exercises.

Python Modules

One of the great things about Python is its excellent library support. Python is “batteries included”: a large number of libraries are provided out-of-the-box, right in the standard distribution. Other modules are available from a variety of sources and chances are you can find a module that helps you solve a problem with a simple web search. I’ll use a variety of third-party modules for the exercises that follow, but you’ll at least need to start with the pywin32 module.

After installing Python, you can install the pywin32 module with the Python pip install program. Open a Windows Command window and install pywin32 as follows:

C:\>pip install pywin32
Collecting pywin32
Downloading https://files.pythonhosted.org/packages/...
ywin32-225-cp37-cp37m-win32.whl (8.4MB)
Installing collected packages: pywin32
Successfully installed pywin32-225

Resources

I won’t be covering the basics of Python, but I suggest you check one of the many other resources. The links listed on https://www.python.org/doc are an excellent starting point. You can also find a number of other resources by searching for “learn python”.

Originally posted on July 18, 2009 / Updated September 20, 2019