What Is PowerShell & What Can You Do With It?

What is PowerShell?

In computer terms, a shell is a user interface that gives you access to various services of an operating system. A shell can be command-line based or it can include a graphical user interface (GUI).

Windows PowerShell is a shell developed by Microsoft for purposes of task automation and configuration management. This powerful shell is based on the .NET framework and it includes a command-line shell and a scripting language.

To give you an idea of how powerful PowerShell really is, it should be enough to keep in mind that it has been used across the entire Microsoft ecosystem ever since Windows NT 4.0 for all types of operations.

The first version of PowerShell was released in November 2006 for Windows XP, Windows Server 2003 and Windows Vista. The latest version of PowerShell is Windows PowerShell 5.0 and it is delivered by default with Windows 10. It also works with Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows 7 Service Pack 1 and Windows 8.1 (Pro and Enterprise editions).


What can you do with PowerShell?

 Microsoft designed Windows PowerShell as a tool that helps you automate and quickly solve a lot of tedious administration tasks. For example, you can use PowerShell to display all the USB devices installed on one or multiple computers in a network or you can set a time-consuming task to run in the background while you do other work. You can also identify and kill processes that are not responding or filter specific information about computers in a network and export it in HTML format.

PowerShell's capabilities allow you to simplify and automate tedious and repetitive tasks by creating scripts and combining multiple commands together.

If you are a network administrator, you will find that PowerShell is very helpful in working with Active Directory. Given that it contains hundreds of customizable commands, which are called cmdlets, the degree to which PowerShell can help you become more productive is extremely high.


Where will you find PowerShell in Windows 10?

The fastest way to open PowerShell in Windows 10 is to use Cortana's search field from the taskbar. Enter the keyword "powershell" and then click or tap the "Windows PowerShell" search result.

Another quick way to launch PowerShell is to use the Run dialogue. Press the Windows + R keys on your keyboard to open the "Run" window, enter "powershell" inside and then press on "OK".

An alternative way of opening PowerShell is to use the Start Menu. Launch Windows 10's "Start" Menu and navigate to the "Windows PowerShell" apps folder. Inside, you will find shortcuts for both PowerShell and PowerShell ISE. If you run the 64-bit version of Windows 10, you will also find entries for the x86 (32 bit) versions of the PowerShell apps. 

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