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What is PowerShell?

Mike from USA asks:

What is PowerShell and what is it used for?

PowerShell is a command-line shell created for Windows. This program interprets text provided by the system administrator and then implements the text by telling the system how to respond to the given command.


The latest version is PowerShell 2.0, which was released in 2009. It allows system administrators and programmers to manage their computer’s operating system. With the ability to automate and control administration of various applications in the computer, as well as Windows itself, program developers and professionals generally find it much easier to perform maintenance.

PowerShell is capable of executing 4 types of commands; cmdlets, files with ‘.ps 1’ after them, functions included specifically in the PowerShell program, as well as other executable programs. The ability to create complex commands is an additional concept PowerShell uses. This means a given command is able to be sent to another command as input.

The cmdlets are responsible for performing tasks in PowerShell. These commands have specific parameters that control how the task is actually performed. To form complex commands, cmdlets are strung together, making the programmer more efficient with the commands created. Over 100 cmdlets exist already in PowerShell, plus administrators are able to write their own cmdlets as well.

Accessing the registry, file system, or even digital signature certificate stores is possible with PowerShell. Besides these simple features, the newest version of PowerShell also includes the features listed below:

Script Debugging


Administrators can set breakpoints in commands, columns, lines, and variables. It’s at this breakpoint that a specific action will occur, which is also determined by the programmer.

Integrated Scripting Environment

Interactive commands can be run in a graphical environment. Other features of ISE include graphical debugging, color-coded syntax, context-sensitive help, selective execution, and Unicode support.

Run commands on a remote computer

Connecting remotely to other computers can be achieved three different ways with PowerShell 2.0; fan-out, fan-in, and interactive. Commands can be sent from the computer running PowerShell to one or two additional remote computers.


Administrators and script developers are able to use scripts within PowerShell to define a runspace environment that is restricted. The self-contained context won’t affect anything outside the module and is also considered to be a reusable unit.

As you can see, PowerShell makes management of a computer operating system not only more efficient, but also easier. An administrator can quickly adjust or update multiple user accounts at once, instead of performing the same task on each individual account. Having a knowledgeable background in programming makes PowerShell much easier to use.

~Cory Buford