Easiest way for installing and using pdfLaTeX on Windows

Installing and using pdfLaTeX is straight forward on Linux since you can select an install from the synaptic package manager and then use the command prompt. In Windows it seems a bit more complicated with the choices of which approach to take. It seems that TeX Live is the best option, but does it allow for pdfLaTeX which is very useful allowing you to use .jpg images and .png?

I cannot find a simple workflow description for using TeX Live or some other distribution, for pdfLaTeX on Windows. And does the command prompt need to be used? Can you use an editor that will also automatically compile BibTeX as well along with the .tex files?

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All modern (La)TeX distributions come with pdflatex. It is now the default compiler, even if latex is used for DVI/PS output. You can use the Windows command line and also any LaTeX editor to run the compiler. See the community wiki LaTeX Editors/IDEs for a list of editors. The TeXLive for Windows is the exact same as for Linux except of the binaries and maybe some differences with the support scripts.

For the average Windows user MikTeX is IMHO better suited, but if you use TeXLive under Linux already (and therefore aren't an average Windows user) you might want to stick with it. I would also recommend you to install TeXLive under Ubuntu (or other Linux) manually with the official TeXLive installer not using the Ubuntu package manager. It comes with an old version and you will not be able to run the normal TeXLive updater and stuck with old package versions for years.

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thanks! So by installing the TeXLive, an editor that has buttons for compiling the LaTeX, will know automatically where the distribution is? And if I want to install a new style file is there a package updater? –  Vass Apr 19 '11 at 14:02
@Vass: MikTeX has a graphical package updater. TeXLive uses the Perl script tlmgr which allows you to install and update packages. You might have to configure the LaTeX path for the editor, but often this happens automatically if you install the LaTeX distribution in the default locational. –  Martin Scharrer Apr 19 '11 at 14:05
@Vass: In Linux, when installing TeXLive, usually a link to the binaries can be found in the path, so latex, pdflatex and such can be executed directly from the console. That means that any editor can execute them just by calling. –  fabikw Apr 19 '11 at 14:36

proTeXt offers a quite simple workflow and a complete (La)TeX setup for Windows, it includes MikTeX (the distribution), TeXnicCenter (an editor), Ghostscript (for graphics) and GSView (a Graphical User Interface for Ghostscript). MikTeX includes pdfTeX, of course.

Once you've downloaded and extracted proTeXt (just double-click), you'll find a detailed manual in a folder, leading you through the installation step-by-step. This is some version of the manual, not sure if it's up to date. As for using command prompt, I think I managed to avoid using it until I wanted to install some fancier font.

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