I hope that I didn't put off too many of my readers with my somewhat negative post about Windows PowerShell yesterday. It is not that I dislike PowerShell, it is just that I can't imagine using it often as a shell. But, this is certainly a matter of taste. Jeffrey Snover replied to my post in the Microsoft Windows PowerShell team blog putting forward an important argument for using PowerShell as a shell.

He writes:

That said, I whole-heartily agree with Michael that if this is what you had to type that on the command line, that would be a pretty painful shell experience. But you don't. We designed a set of aliases, positional parameters, etc to allow a very pithy command line experience.

It is certainly true that aliases improve productivity if you often work on the command line. However, I still think that most tasks can be done faster with a good GUI tool and there are plenty of them for Windows. Every time you try to remember this nifty alias you used last time, you usually are already done with an easy-to-use GUI tool. To come back to the example in my previous post, if you have to manage Windows processes you probably will be faster in most cases with Process Explorer.

Most Windows admins I know will always use a GUI if they can. That's why I still have serious doubts that PowerShell will be used often as a shell. One thing is for sure, though, PowerShell will be an important scripting language.

Anyway, to make good my negative assessment, I want to link to a great new post about Windows PowerShell for IT Administrators. This article isn't another PowerShell documentation, but gives a good overview and some interesting background information. It also lists a couple of useful tools related to PowerShell.

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Update: I just saw another lengthy reply to my first PowerShell post. Please, check it out if you want read about a completely different view.

3 Comments
  1. Jeffrey Snover 15 years ago

    We don’t view this as a GUI vs CLI (Command Line Interface). We LOVE GUIs. We view this as a GUI AND CLI story. Someones you want one, sometimes you’ll want the other. Our goal is to layer all the GUIs over CLI so that we ensure that everything can be done via that CLI and thus everything can be automated.

    Jeffrey Snover [MSFT]
    Windows Management Partner Architect
    Visit the Windows PowerShell Team blog at: http://blogs.msdn.com/PowerShell
    Visit the Windows PowerShell ScriptCenter at: http://www.microsoft.com/technet/scriptcenter/hubs/msh.mspx

  2. Don 15 years ago

    I guess my take is this: I’d rather have a command-line environment where I can bang out a line or two to administer a dozen machines… than have to hunt down a third-party GUI to do it. MS is bad about giving us multi-machine admin GUIs… maybe if they weren’t, I’d feel differently!! I’m just adept with command-lines – always have been – and feel they get me “closer” to the guts of whatever I’m trying to run. Plus, unlike Mr. Snover, I really don’t like GUIs for administrative stuff .

  3. Michael Pietroforte 15 years ago

    Jeffrey, I agree, it is often just a matter of taste when it comes to using a GUI or the CLI. It is certainly a good move to ensure that everything can be done via CLI. However, I think, the main reason why Microsoft introduced PowerShell doesn’t have much to do with making things automated. This was already possible in the past to a relatively high degree. We have plenty of scripts in different scripting languages here doing just that with many Microsoft products. I admit, PowerShell probably will even improve the situation. However, the main reason for introducing PowerShell has something to do with marketing. Microsoft wants to persuade Unix admins to move to Windows. And those guys love hacking on the command line. There is no doubt about it. I guess Don is one of them 😉 Actually, I enjoy that too whenever I logon on a Linux box. So, I know exactly where they are coming from. I just wish I had more time for this. I haven’t. So, I use GUI tools when I work with Windows.

    Don, if you always know which lines “to bang out

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