Microsoft released a new and more powerful command line shell and task based scripting technology called Windows PowerShell today. Powershell brings in Unix style shell scripting to Windows Vista as well as Windows XP and Windows 2003 platforms.

Powershell supports features like pipelines(dir | more), allows you to quickly solve storage problems for instance how many 700MB cds are needed to backup 11GB? (11GBMB/700MB) Alex of Windows Vista blog has a more simple definition of Powershell. He describes Powershell as “If you haven’t heard of Windows PowerShell before, think of it as an integrated version of the Windows Command Prompt (cmd.exe) and VBScript.”

You can use it to unleash the power of wildcards and working objects too. Say you wanted to get all the services that start with “a” and then get all the dependent services associated with it, simply typing “PS> get-service w* | format-list DisplayName, DependentServices” should do the job.

History: Before being released as Windows Powershell, it was previously known as Windows “Monad” Shell and MSH or Microsoft Command Shell.

Prerequisites: Windows PowerShell requires the .Net Framework 2.0. You can download Framework 2.0 here

Cool New Features/ can do with Win PowerShell …. I think I will call it Win Pow

1. You can test your commands before committing to them(use feature called Whatif )

2. You can start and stop transcripts of all your commands

3. Can use Win Pow to access applications such as Windows Media Player 11

4. Can configure the much hated User Account Control (set-itemproperty -path HKLM:\SOFTWARE\MICROSOFT\WINDOWS\CurrentVersion\Policies\System -name ConsentPromptBehaviorAdmin -value 0) where a 0 will turn of UAC and 2 will turn it back on.

Look at the example below where I display the services and use powershell as a calender calculator

A lot of us who use Linux at work/school or have always grown up using unix commands for years and more often than not, there might have been instances where a ls command comes more naturally than the dir command at the command prompt in Windows. For the most part, a lot of us work around this drawback using the excellent tool: Cygwin. Cygwin is available for windows users here.The Cygwin tools are ports of the popular GNU development tools for Microsoft Windows. They run thanks to the Cygwin library which provides the UNIX system calls and environment these programs expect.

With these tools installed, it is possible to write Win32 console or GUI applications that make use of the standard Microsoft Win32 API and/or the Cygwin API. As a result, it is possible to easily port many significant Unix programs without the need for extensive changes to the source code. This includes configuring and building most of the available GNU software . Even if the development tools are of little to no use to you, you may have interest in the many standard Unix utilities provided with the package. They can be used both from the bash shell (provided) or from the standard Windows command shell.

While Cygwin would be an obvious choice for many Unix/Linux power users, there is an excellent and a much simpler alternative to using Cygwin. In this article, we will show you how to run your Unix commands right in the windows command prompt.