Microsoft seeks to command and control scripting

IT Forum, Barcelona: Microsoft today announced the official release of its command-line Windows scripting tool, Powershell. It’s designed to address the age-old complaint that Unix and Linux users have access to far more powerful command-line tools than Windows power users have ever had with the old DOS-based Command Prompt.

Microsoft seeks to command and control scripting

The software’s available to download from Microsoft’s official Powershell site.

Microsoft’s Bob Muglia was candid about the old Command Prompt’s shortcomings, at the same time as being open about Powershell’s competitive positioning: “For as long as I can remember, Windows has been behind Unix in its scripting capability. Powershell changes that”.

Powershell, which has had a long gestation phase under its original name, Monad, features a powerful scripting language that can be used by system administrators to automate tasks more efficiently. Although the commands are fearsomely complex and a long way from point-and-click graphical simplicity, the power of true system administration on the command line has long been a favoured feature of Unix and Linux systems.

Powershell’s release is yet more evidence that Microsoft’s server strategy is going for the jugular of applications that are seen as Unix and Linux strongholds. To demonstrate Powershell, its chief architect Jeffrey Snover showed a PHP web application running on an IIS (Internet Information Services) version 7 server on Longhorn.

He used a Powershell command to deploy the “pre-existing” application to the IIS server, and activated output caching to demonstrate a huge improvement in the application’s performance. It appears to be no accident that the web application in question was based on PHP – the mainstay of open-source-powered websites – rather than one running on Microsoft’s own ASP.NET web-application infrastructure.

“In the past it was possible to run PHP on IIS, but it didn’t have the same performance characteristics it had on Linux”, said Muglia.

The underlying message is clear: IIS 7 on Longhorn can run your applications faster than Apache on Linux. With the open-source Apache server running roughly 60 per cent of the world’s 200 million websites on Linux and Unix (and many of them PHP-powered), Microsoft is clearly out to get a bigger slice of the action.

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