Replacing cmd.exe

Scott Fulton has an interesting PowerShell article over at Betanews: Why Can’t PowerShell Be the Windows Command Prompt?

He has a number of great quotes from Ian McDonald. Here are a couple of my favorites:

In five years’ time, McDonald believes, we’ll all be able to look back and identify the “inflection point” where manageability of remote servers took a giant step forward, “managing hundreds of thousands of servers with very low operations,” and credit PowerShell for bringing about that change of direction.

“Personally — this is biased — if I could set the direction of it, I would like to make PowerShell the default shell for Windows. That’s my personal bias.” He added he doesn’t expect his preference alone to set the direction of the product for the next couple of years, although he would like to see it replace the basic CMD.EXE command shell.

I think he is right on the first one (we’ll see) but I must admit that I’ve never understood the desire to replace CMD.exe. When you bought office, did you think of it as “replacing Wordpad”? Did you freak out when you discovered that we still shipped WordPad?

I totally “get” USING PowerShell instead of CMD.exe (that’s just an IQ test J ) but when people want to REPLACE Cmd.exe, it seems more like they want to scrap something off the bottom of their shoe. We are going to have CMD.exe for a long time. While the end of life for VBScript has been announced (don’t freak out – it is going to be supported for a long time but the clock has started (it will become an optional component, then a web download, then a memory)), no such announcement has been made for CMD.exe.

I think Ian got it right, he talks about “making PowerShell the default shell for Windows”. That is distinctly different than “replace” e.g. no longer ship cmd.exe. Perhaps people are just using the term “replace” as shorthand for “replace for some function“.

Cheers!

Jeffrey Snover [MSFT]
Windows Management Partner Architect
Visit the Windows PowerShell Team blog at: http://blogs.msdn.com/PowerShell
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