5 Reasons You Should Use Powershell Instead Of Batch Scripting

Most people have never even heard of PowerShell, much less used it. This might be because the name sounds like something only real IT geeks would use. Or maybe because it’s not clear what the benefits of PowerShell are. Maybe it’s because there’s a learning curve at the beginning.

The truth is that most people who use computers for fun won’t need PowerShell’s power. But if you know how to program, if you like the command line more than graphical windows, or if you like to use scripts to automate tasks, you’ll love what PowerShell has to offer.

In short, PowerShell is what you’d get if you crossed the Command Prompt with Batch Scripting, added some extra features, and turned everything up a few notches. Intrigued? Here are a few good reasons why you should give it a try.

1. Scripting in PowerShell has gotten better.

PowerShell scripts are just lines of instructions written to a plain-text file, just like batch scripts. However, the file ends in.PS1 instead of.BAT or.CMD. But that’s about all they have in common.

One big problem with batch scripts is that you can only use commands that you can use in the Command Prompt. Or, to put it another way, a batch script is just a list of commands typed into the Command Prompt (with some conditional logic thrown in). This works well for simple tasks and automation, but it gets in the way when you want to do something more complicated.

PowerShell scripts, on the other hand, are written in the PowerShell scripting language, which is a real programming language that can be used to write complex logic for really advanced tasks. The language is easy to learn, especially if you have experience with other programming languages. It supports variables, functions, loops, handling exceptions, and more.

One more thing to mention is that PowerShell ISE (Integrated Scripting Environment) is much better than the regular Command Prompt. It has some cool features that make writing scripts easier, like syntax highlighting, autocompletion, tabbed editing, and help that changes depending on what you are doing.

Overall, PowerShell not only lets you write better scripts, but it also lets you write them faster.

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2. PowerShell works with all of the.NET API.

Integration with the.NET Framework gives PowerShell most of its power and flexibility. Every PowerShell command, which is called a “cmdlet,” is actually a.NET class that is called at runtime. This means that cmdlets can be written in any.NET language, which as of this writing includes Visual Basic, Visual C++, and C#.

So what’s the benefit of .NET API support?

Well, the.NET API is made up of a set of standard class libraries that are full of great utilities and functions. You can use these parts of the API to help you do things like collect inputs or manage data without having to write all of those helpers yourself.

With PowerShell, the.NET API, and the different providers that come with PowerShell, you can also access the deepest parts of Windows, like the filesystem, the registry, and the certificate store. PowerShell cmdlets and scripts can do a lot more than batch scripts because of this.

And perhaps the most interesting thing about PowerShell is that you can use the objects that come out of one cmdlet as input for another. Bash, like most other shells, can only pass plain text from one command to another. PowerShell’s way is cleaner, more precise, and less likely to make mistakes.

3. Batch scripts can be run by PowerShell.

If the other reasons haven’t persuaded you, this one should.

PowerShell is not made from the Command Prompt. The architectures of the two shells are different, so it’s technically wrong to think of PowerShell as “Command Prompt 2.0” or whatever. But PowerShell is made to work with older versions of itself.

In PowerShell, you can use most of the commands you’d use in Command Prompt. Under the hood, PowerShell has built-in cmdlet equivalents that were scripted to do exactly the same things as those commands. It uses aliases to “connect” the old command names to the new cmdlets.

For example, when you run cd in PowerShell, you are actually running the Set-Location cmdlet. In this situation, “cd” is just a shortcut for “Set-Location,” which makes your life easier. When you use rename in PowerShell, it runs the Rename-Item cmdlet behind your back.

So, it shouldn’t be a surprise that you can run batch scripts in PowerShell. This means that you can move from batch scripting to PowerShell scripting without having to stop everything at once.

4. Microsoft’s plan for the future is PowerShell.

PowerShell came out for the first time in 2006. Now, after more than a decade, it is one of Microsoft’s most important projects. The people who work on it are doing their best to make it the best shell it can be, and Microsoft is doing everything it can to get IT professionals to use it.

PowerShell will be the main way to automate tasks and apps in Windows and Microsoft enterprise products in the future. It’s such a big step that third-party software companies have started to offer PowerShell libraries to help manage and fix their software.

But what’s most important is that Microsoft has been adding more PowerShell-related questions to their certification exams. In fact, in an interview with TechNet Magazine in 2009, Microsoft said that “knowing how to use Windows PowerShell is the single most important skill a Windows administrator will need in the coming years.”

So, whether you’re an advanced home user or an IT professional who manages Windows systems, it’s time to accept that batch scripting is old and PowerShell is the future.

5. Linux can be used with PowerShell.

In the past few years, Microsoft has done some surprising things in the world of open source software. In 2014, they made the.NET Framework open source and made it work on many platforms. The Bash shell was then built right into Windows 10 in 2016.

In 2017, it got easier than ever to install PowerShell on Linux. As of this writing, Microsoft has package repositories that you can use to install PowerShell Core on most popular versions of Linux. If your system can use apt-get or yum, then it should be easy to install. If not, you can still follow the old instructions for how to install it.

What’s good about this? Because you won’t just be able to use PowerShell on one operating system anymore. Batch scripts can only run on Windows or Linux with Wine, which we don’t recommend. PowerShell, on the other hand, can help you learn more and expand your skills.

How to Begin Using Windows PowerShell

Still not sure? If you don’t, that’s fine. As I said above, PowerShell isn’t for everyone. If you’re happy with batch scripts for personal use, you don’t have to switch to PowerShell. But if you want to keep up with new technologies and become a certified IT specialist, you should learn PowerShell sooner rather than later.

If you do want to get started, start with these simple and straightforward PowerShell commands. Once you understand those, you can move on to these PowerShell tasks you can automate and learn how to deal with PowerShell errors. That should give you enough to get going.