Energize your Windows Server 2003 scripts using PowerShell

Takeaway: When you combine Linux's command line capabilities with Windows Server 2003's install base, you get PowerShell, Microsoft's powerful scripting tool. Scott Lowe talks about how you can get PowerShell, and how it can help you evaluate your scripting options before you execute them.

What do you get when you marry the command line power of Linux with the wide install base enjoyed by Windows Server 2003? A Windows Server 2003 server running PowerShell, which is Microsoft's answer to IT admins who have complained that Windows is not as scripter friendly as other operating systems. In short, PowerShell—formerly code named Monad and sometimes referred to as MSH—takes every other command line tool ever offered by Microsoft and blows it out of the water.

PowerShell contains a number of features that make it versatile for almost any scripting task, including "what if" features that allow you to see what would be affected by the particular command without actually changing any information.

PowerShell can even act as a super-flexible calculator and perform simple math as well as other kinds of calculations, even with numbers that include GB and MB. For example, if you want to figure out how many times 50MB will go into 500GB, type 500gb/50mb at the command line and you'll get the result of 10,240. Use other commands to perform arithmetic based on dates and times.

The PowerShell tool also integrates with just about every API and other interface provided by Microsoft, including WMI and the Registry. PowerShell will become the basis for almost all of Microsoft's management interfaces moving forward and is very easily extensible in order to meet this goal.

PowerShell runs on the following operating systems:

Take PowerShell 1.0 for a test drive by downloading it from Microsoft. PowerShell requires the .NET Framework 2.0.