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For More Windows Expertise, Learn Powershell

Since the days of Windows Vista (and prior to the release of Windows Server 2008), Windows has supported a real, honest-to-goodness command shell/shell scripting language that stands head and shoulders above and beyond the old MS-DOS command line lexicon and syntax and its batch (.BAT) file counterparts. Savvy Windows users are well-advised to dig into PowerShell, and to learn how it can be used, because it is incredibly powerful and capable.

PowerShell is pretty close to a full-blown programming language in expressive power and the breadth and depth of its lexicon and syntax. Task-oriented code items in PowerShell are called "cmdlets" and there is an amazing variety of pre-fabricated cmdlets available from Microsoft (and other parties) for all kinds of administrative tasks, for everything from Windows configuration and installation, to file and print management, policy management, virtual machine management, and lots, lots, lots more.

PowerShell has been around long enough that it's now in its 5th major version, as the output of this PowerShell variable ($PSVersionTable.PSVersion) illustrates:

For PowerShell 5, the OS is Windows 10, Build 10240.

There are oodles and scads of good resources available on PowerShell for Windows admins and power users to learn and use, starting at TechNet, where this search will provide a plethora of useful and informative references. In particular, dig into these three items to get going:

1. Windows PowerShell Scripting

2. Using Windows PowerShell

3. Windows PowerShell Owner's Manual

Above and beyond the internal and in-house Microsoft resources and references, there are lots of good books on the subject, too. Here are some nonpareil titles from Microsoft Press:

1. Windows PowerShell Step by Step, 3rd Edition (Ed Wilson, 2B released 10/27/15)

2. Deploying and Managing Active Directory with Windows PowerShell: Tools for Cloud-based and Hybrid Environments (Charlie Russel, 1/15/15)

3. Windows PowerShell Best Practices (Ed Wilson, 1/15/2014)

4. Windows PowerShell 3.0 First Steps (Ed Wilson, 1/15/2013: a little outdated, but still a great place to start)

Here's some great content from PITC on PowerShell for you to chew on as well:

  • The Role of PowerShell Cmdlets on Microsoft Exams
  • Managing Exchange Server 2010 with PowerShell
  • For Modern MS Cert Success, Learn PowerShell!
  • For those willing to dig in, particularly for Windows professionals seeking both certification and hands-on workplace proficiency, there are few better investments they can make aside from popping the covers on PowerShell and really figuring out how it works, and what it can do.