Latest posts by Michael Pietroforte (see all)
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Update: This post was April Fools.
PowerShell support for Office means two things. First of all, VBA will be deprecated and replaced by PowerShell. For instance, the Word macro recorder will create PowerShell code, which can then be edited in the PowerShell ISE for Office. Microsoft will also offer a new VBA converter, so you will still be able to use your old VBA scripts in Office 2015 once they are converted to PowerShell.
The second (and, for many, probably a more surprising) feature is a new PowerShell command line interface (CLI) for Office. This enhancement will allow you to interact with all Office applications through PowerShell commands. For example, if you want to create a new Word file, you don’t have to click File > New—you would just enter a PowerShell command in the new Office CLI, which will get its own Office Ribbon.
Office PowerShell CLI
According to my source, this will allow you to automate typical Office tasks. For example, if there is a new company policy for document formats, you can change Word styles on hundreds of computers with a simple PowerShell script. Imagine all the click-click-click needed if you had to do this manually.
I don’t have to mention that Excel formulas will all be in PowerShell. Every single Excel cell can contain pages of PowerShell code. This will offer secretaries, accountants, managers, and all fans of spreadsheet calculations unlimited automation capabilities.
And, when you start Outlook in the morning, you can fire up a PowerShell command that will (automatically) reply to all emails from your boss with varying texts. For instance, if an email from your boss contains phrases like “as soon as possible,” a PowerShell script could (automatically) reply with “You will have it before lunch in your PowerBox,” (automatically) bc the email to your favorite subordinate, and then—since PowerShell automation saves you a lot of time—launch Angry Birds for Office PowerShell (automatically). And if you really despise clicking, PowerShell can even kill the birds for you (automatically).
I asked my source if Office 2015 will still feature a graphical user interface (GUI) and he said, “Of course, we will always do both CLI and GUI. I mean, Microsoft became big with great GUIs.” When I pressed him to explain exactly what this means, he said, “You will always be able to do everything with PowerShell in Microsoft Office and just a few things with the GUI. This works very well in Exchange, so why not apply this concept to Office?” The new Ribbon in all Office apps will definitely get decluttered. However, at the moment, it is not yet clear which icons will be removed. Some members of the PowerShell team have advocated for removing them all.
He added that things probably wouldn’t go that far, at least not in the next Office version, but advanced Office users will definitely be able to completely disable the GUI and only work with the PowerShell CLI. My source then said, “We can no longer limit Office users. I think there’s going to be quite a crossover or hybrid. I guess we could call it DevClerks.”
I then wondered aloud whether this was a step backwards in time. This new Word somehow reminds me a little of a once very popular, but long forgotten, UNIX editor that allowed you to automate all kinds of text editing tasks. He replied, “Absolutely! The new Word will be the renaissance of the great vi, just with longer commands. You know, embrace and extend.”
I then objected that Microsoft’s main competitors count on easy-to-use graphical touch interfaces and asked if it isn’t a bit risky to confront Office users with a text-based interface in the post-DOS age. He countered that PowerShell 4.0 will fully support Modern apps, so no more need for all this modern tap-tap-tap and desktop click-click-click. It will be all about type-type-type.