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Microsoft makes PowerShell the default command line tool

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November 21, 2016

Microsoft's newly released Windows 10 insider preview build no. 14971 for PCs has made PowerShell the default command line tool.

This is an event that coincides with PowerShell's 10-year anniversary, however. "In an effort to bring the best command line experience to the forefront for all power users, PowerShell is now the de facto command shell from Windows Explorer," said Dona Sarkar, software engineer in Microsoft's Windows and devices group.

"PowerShell replaces the old Command Prompt (cmd.exe) in the WIN + X menu, in File Explorer's menu and in the context menu that appears when you shift-right-click the whitespace in File Explorer," she asserted.

Typing "cmd" in File Explorer's address bar "powershell" will launch it at that location. But the command prompt isn't dead yet, at least not now anyway. Committed traditionalists can disable the change through the Taskbar menu.

Asked whether there's any reason to make this change now, a Microsoft spokesperson suggested that PowerShell as a default isn't a certainty and encouraged feedback about the switch-over.

"The new feature is only available through the Windows Insider Program at this time," the spokesperson asserted. "We are constantly experimenting with existing and new features in the Windows 10 Insider Preview in an effort to improve the user experience with the product."

However, Microsoft is clearly focused on PowerShell as a command-line and automation framework, simply because it reaches beyond Windows.

Three months ago, the company made PowerShell available on Linux. And it intends for PowerShell to serve as a universal tool for interacting with Azure workloads and its Operations Management Suite.

"Microsoft wants to earn customers' preference as the platform for running all their workloads, Linux as well as Windows," asserted Jeffrey Snover, technical rep in Microsoft's enterprise cloud group.

"This new thinking empowered the .Net team to port .Net Core apps to Linux, and that in turn enabled PowerShell to port to Linux as well," he added.

Asked whether PowerShell should be seen as part of Microsoft's outreach to Linux customers, Microsoft's spokesperson declined to address the question.

"The new feature is only available through the Windows Insider Program at this time," the spokesperson said. "We have nothing further to share at this time."

Customers of the software giant who rely on cmd scripts may be annoyed at the steady march of progress, however. Learning different commands can be a bother, but that's the way life is in Redmond.

PowerShell offers more than the Command Prompt that few mourners should be expected, for example. It can pipe not just text but objects as well. It can also manage the Windows registry and Windows Management Instrumentation.

It can also batch rename specific folder files. Additionally, it can read a list of users in an Excel spreadsheet and automatically add them to an Active Directory group.

That's not to say there aren't drawbacks like load time, hunger for memory, and potential security vulnerabilities that come with the territory, however. As they say: 'there's no free lunch' and there are certainly no exceptions to the rule when Microsoft is concerned, so you've been warned.

Source: Microsoft.


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