PowerShell is a task-based command-line shell and scripting language built on .NET. PowerShell helps system administrators and power-users rapidly automate tasks that manage operating systems (Linux, macOS, and Windows) and processes.
PowerShell commands let you manage computers from the command line. PowerShell providers let you access data stores, such as the registry and certificate store, as easily as you access the file system. PowerShell includes a rich expression parser and a fully developed scripting language.
PowerShell base source code is now available in GitHub and open to community contributions. See PowerShell source on GitHub.
PowerShell is designed to improve the command-line and scripting environment by eliminating long-standing problems and adding new features.
PowerShell makes it easy to discover its features. For example, to find a list of cmdlets that view and change Windows services, type:
After discovering which cmdlet accomplishes a task, you can learn more about the cmdlet by using the Get-Help cmdlet. For example, to display help about the Get-Service cmdlet, type:
Most cmdlets return objects that can be manipulated and then rendered as text for display. To fully understand the output of a cmdlet, pipe the output to the Get-Member cmdlet. For example, the following command displays information about the members of the object output by the Get-Service cmdlet.
Managing systems can be a complex task. Tools that have a consistent interface help to control the inherent complexity. Unfortunately, command-line tools and scriptable Component Object Model (COM) objects aren't known for their consistency.
The consistency of PowerShell is one of its primary assets. For example, if you learn how to use the Sort-Object cmdlet, you can use that knowledge to sort the output of any cmdlet. You don't have to learn the different sorting routines of each cmdlet.
Additionally, cmdlet developers don't have to design sorting features for their cmdlets. PowerShell provides a framework with the basic features that forces consistency. The framework eliminates some choices that are left to the developer. But, in return, it makes the development of cmdlets much simpler.
The Windows Command Prompt provides an interactive shell with access to command-line tools and basic scripting. Windows Script Host (WSH) has scriptable command-line tools and COM automation objects, but doesn't provide an interactive shell.
PowerShell combines an interactive shell and a scripting environment. PowerShell can access command-line tools, COM objects, and .NET class libraries. This combination of features extends the capabilities of the interactive user, the script writer, and the system administrator.
PowerShell is based on object not text. The output of a command is an object. You can send the output object, through the pipeline, to another command as its input.
This pipeline provides a familiar interface for people experienced with other shells. PowerShell extends this concept by sending objects rather than text.
PowerShell's command discoverability makes it easy to transition from typing commands interactively to creating and running scripts. PowerShell transcripts and history make it easy to copy commands to a file for use as a script.