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PowerShell 3.0 Available in Windows Management Framework 3.0 CTP

Microsoft last week released a community technology preview (CTP) version of Windows Management Framework 3.0.

This test version of the framework, which can be downloaded here, is designed to boost the manageability of Microsoft's current flagship Windows 7 Service Pack 1 and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1. Windows Management Framework 3.0 comes with three main components: Windows PowerShell 3.0, Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) and Windows Remote Management (WinRM).

The CTP requires having Common Language Runtime 4.0 in place. Users can get it by installing Microsoft .NET Framework 4.0.

The main purpose of downloading and installing this CTP is to test new capabilities in PowerShell 3.0, Microsoft's scripting language that's designed to help automate server management processes. The use of PowerShell, in conjunction with Windows Server Core, has emerged as a favored approach among experts at Microsoft to enable multiserver management while also addressing scalability.

Microsoft added some new features in PowerShell 3.0, including an improvement in how workflows can be used to manage tasks, per Microsoft's blog description. PowerShell 3.0 also adds "robust sessions" support to recover from network interruptions. Users can delegate their credentials to other users to run critical jobs via a new "delegated administration" feature. A new "cmdlet discovery" feature helps users find and run scripts. The "show-command" feature will display the parameters of a cmdlet via a forms-based dialog box. Scheduled jobs can now run based on events. Microsoft also adapted a more "natural language" feel to the scripting, according to the blog.

Microsoft improved WMI in this CTP release. Microsoft defines WMI as Windows' "infrastructure for management data and operations." IT pros typically write scripts that leverage WMI to automate tasks on remote computers. One of the improvements in WMI is its new provider model that "removes the dependency" on the Component Object Model (COM), according to the blog.

Microsoft also added support for more robust connections with WinRM in this CTP release, especially for managing long-running tasks. WinRM is Microsoft's version of the WS-Management standard, which is a SOAP-based protocol for exchanging management information across disparate systems.

While the Windows Management Framework 3.0 CTP is designed for testing on present-day Windows operating systems, much of the PowerPoint 3.0 improvements are described and illustrated in Build conference sessions held last week. The "Make Your Product Manageable" Build session (available on demand via Microsoft's Channel 9) shows some of PowerPoint 3.0's improvements relative to "Windows 8" and "Windows Server 8."

In that Build talk, Jeffrey Snover and Refaat Issa described some improvements in PowerShell 3.0, which now has more than 2,300 cmdlets on Windows 8. Snover, a Microsoft distinguished engineer and lead architect of Windows Server, is considered to be the "father" of PowerShell. Issa is a senior program manager on the Windows PowerShell team.

A new PowerShell 3.0 feature in Windows 8 is the ability to write a WMI v2 providers, Snover said. He added that there are also new ways to write PowerShell cmdlets. In Windows 8, users can write cmdlets in .NET, PowerShell, Windows Workflow, or CIM in WMI. He also explained that REST APIs can now be configured using PowerShell and OData.

Microsoft uses a Managed Object Format (MOF) based on the Distributed Management Taskforce (DMTF) standard. Using a schema based on MOF, it is easier to write WMI providers by "an order of magnitude," according to Snover.

Snover noted in the session that nearly everyone has been taking PowerShell and workflows and making them work together. He said that using them together has an additive positive effect for IT pros, which is like combining peanut butter and chocolate.

Microsoft has developed its own version of a portable Common Information Model (CIM) server, called "NanoWBEM," that makes use of CIM and WS-Management standards to support non-Windows systems. Snover compared it to OpenPegasus, but said that NanoWBEM is 76 times faster.

Snover emphasized that manageability is the differentiation point for products, and that IT pros should strive to use automation to minimize errors and server downtime. It's especially important for addressing scaleability issues, which are being driven by virtualization, he said.

"If products aren't manageable, it just causes [IT pros] exceeding pain," he said during the presentation. "A small problem times a large frequency, like you get with virtualization, in turn can just drive you crazy. So you've got to have great manageability."

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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