Monday, 28 March 2011

PowerShell 2.0 for Windows Server 2008 R2

This post is simply a brief moan about a particular instance of poor documentation on Microsoft’s web sites, and an attempt to fill that gap.

I’ve been reading the Pragmatic Programmer which advocates learning new languages on a regular basis, and also learning your computer’s shell language instead of just relying on the GUI.  I’ve dabbled in a bit of PowerShell and I have a sense of how powerful it is for manipulating SharePoint, SQL Server, the Windows OS, and anything else you might like to manipulate with script, but haven’t made the time to really learn it, so I thought that would be a great way to apply those recommendations.  So I thought I’d get onto by Windows Server 2008 R2 development VM and download the latest version of PowerShell (2.0). 

That’s why I thought I’d write this quick post.  If you followed the above thought process, you might experience the same confusion I did as a PowerShell newbie.

You might run across pages like this one (which I found useless, not least of which was because it talks about running SCONFIG.CMD, which is supposed to just be installed on your Win Server 2008 box by defult, but apparently isn’t):

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/976736

Or messages like the post shown on this page:

WinMgmtFrame

Huh?  I’m running Windows Server 2008 R2, why is it telling me to go to the Windows 7 Solution Center?  (And if you go there, you’ll find that’s not helpful).

Anyway the answer is found on this page:

http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/windows_7-windows_programs/powershell-v2-missing-in-ultimate-x64-v1-only/f614919f-a427-47b2-b220-4ed8dc29b415

(The answer being, if you simply launch the PowerShell icon and issue the “get-host” command, you find that PowerShell 2.0 is installed on Windows Server 2008 R2 by default, so there’s nothing you need to do).

And some more info (and a refreshing Microsoft admission that they themselves are responsible for the confusion):

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/powershell/archive/2010/05/14/powershell-v2-is-available.aspx

I do agree with some of the comments on that page.  Dear MS, if you’re going to rename a product (e.g. renaming “PowerShell” to “Windows Management Framework”, or at least rolling PowerShell into this larger “suite”), how about a little bit better documentation and more consistency on MSDN and/or TechNet?  Like something that comes up easily in search engines.  I tried searching in Bing on the MSDN or TechNet sites for a simple phrase like “PowerShell Windows Server 2008 R2” and found the search results were fairly useless.  Maybe we’re spoiled in this age of search engines, but it did seem to waste at least a half hour of my life, which seems a slightly high price to obtain a simple fact.  Maybe this post may someday save somebody else a half hour.

Now let’s see, where was I… oh yeah, I wanted to start learning PowerShell!  ;-)

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