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Is PowerShell ready to replace my Cygwin shell on Windows?

I'm debating whether I should learn PowerShell, or just stick with Cygwin/Perl scripts/Unix shell scripts, etc.

The benefit of PowerShell would be that the scripts could be more easily used by teammates that don't have Cygwin; however, I don't know if I'd really be writing that many general purpose scripts, or if people would even use them.

Unix scripting is so powerful, does PowerShell come close enough to warrant switching over?

Here are some of the specific things (or equivalents) I would be looking for in PowerShell:

  • grep
  • sort
  • uniq
  • Perl (how close does PowerShell come to Perl's capabilities?)
  • AWK
  • sed
  • file (the command that gives file information)
  • etc.

Tools are just tools.
They help or they don't.
You need help or you don't.

If you know Unix and those tools do what you need them to do on Windows - then you are a happy guy and there is no need to learn PowerShell (unless you want to explore).

My original intent was to include a set of Unix tools in Windows and be done with it (a number of us on the team have deep Unix backgrounds and a healthy dose of respect for that community.) What I found was that this didn't really help much. The reason for that is that awk/grep/sed don't work against COM, WMI, ADSI, the Registry, the cert store, etc, etc. In other words, UNIX is an entire ecosystem self-tuned around text files. As such, text processing tools are effectively management tools. Windows is a completely different ecosystem self-tuned around APIs and Objects. That's why we invented PowerShell.

What I think you'll find is that there will be lots of occasions when text-processing won't get you what you want on Windows. At that point, you'll want to pick up PowerShell. NOTE - it is not an all or nothing deal. Within PowerShell, you can call out to your Unix tools (and use their text process or PowerShell's text processing). Also you can call PowerShell from your Unix tools and get text.

Again - there is no religion here - our focus is on giving you the tools you need to succeed. That is why we are so passionate about feedback. Let us know where we are falling down on the job or where you don't have a tool you need and we'll put it on the list and get to it. In all honesty, we are digging ourselves out of a 30 year hole so it is going to take a while. That said, if you pick up the beta of Windows Server 2008 /R2 and/or the betas of our server products, I think you'll be shocked at how quickly that hole is getting filled.

With regard to usage - we've had > 3.5 million downloads to date. That does not include the people using it in Windows Server 2008 because it is included as an optional component and does not need a download. V2 will ship in all versions of Windows. It will be on-by-default for all editions except Server core where it is an optional component. Shortly after Windows 7/Windows Server 2008 R2 ships, we'll make V2 available on all platforms XP and above. In other words - your investment in learning will be applicable to a very large number of machines/environments.

One last comment. If/when you start to learn PowerShell, I think you'll be pretty happy. Much of the design is heavily influenced by our Unix backgrounds so while we are quite different, you'll pick it up very quickly (after you get over cussing that it isn't Unix :-) ). We know that people have a very limited budget for learning - that is why we are super hard-core about consistency. You are going to learn something and then you'll use it over and over and over again.

Experiment! Enjoy! Engage!

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