Windows Tip Sheet

Automated Power for IT

Prof. Powershell shows you how to automate aspects of your IT job.

Who doesn't need more power? Especially when that power can help you get your job done faster and more efficiently. One way to get more power is to begin using Windows PowerShell. PowerShell is Microsoft's next generation management shell. It is as easy to use as the Cmd.exe shell and as powerful as any Unix shell. The reason this matters to you is that PowerShell is now part of Microsoft's common engineering criteria. This means that any new Microsoft product that you are likely to work with must support PowerShell. In fact, management will be built on PowerShell. Sure, there may be a GUI, but the GUI will be built on top of PowerShell. Exchange 2007 is the first Microsoft product that follows this model.

What does this mean to you? I think there will always be a job category that will continue to use GUI-based tools, even those running PowerShell. But the administrators who will advance or at least be more efficient will be those who master the PowerShell console. That is the goal of this column: to increase your understanding and awareness of PowerShell and its capabilities. My mission, as Prof. PowerShell, is to educate you on how PowerShell works, as well as provide real-world solutions using Windows PowerShell. I firmly believe that once you understand PowerShell fundamentals and see it in action, learning new products like Exchange 2007 will be much easier. And, you'll be able to quickly leverage the new product functionality in a shorter period.

PowerShell is built on the .NET Framework, which makes it an object-based shell as compared to the text-based shell of Cmd.exe or even a Unix or Linux shell. As you'll see this makes a tremendous difference and accounts for the "power" in PowerShell.

If you don't have it installed yet, download the version appropriate for your OS and processor (there are 32- and 64-bit flavors) from Microsoft. The PowerShell team has released a community technology preview of v2.0, but it is not approved for production. I will be focusing on PowerShell 1.0, although I may discuss a few v2.0 features every once in a while to whet your appetite.

In the mean time, I encourage you to visit PowerShellCommunity.org. This is a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote PowerShell. You'll find many PowerShell-related blogs, a script library, discussion forums and much more. The goal is that this will be the place to go for PowerShell resources and information.

I hope you'll join me for the ride as we discover new ways to bring more power to your job.

About the Author

Jeffery Hicks is an IT veteran with over 25 years of experience, much of it spent as an IT infrastructure consultant specializing in Microsoft server technologies with an emphasis in automation and efficiency. He is a multi-year recipient of the Microsoft MVP Award in Windows PowerShell. He works today as an independent author, trainer and consultant. Jeff has written for numerous online sites and print publications, is a contributing editor at Petri.com, and a frequent speaker at technology conferences and user groups.

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