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Thread: Microsoft (Decline Of)

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Gerry Patterson, The man who almost invented humble sarcasm tags(Invisible to non-sarcastic browsers)

Living with Server 2008


Chronogical Blog Entries:



Date: Sun, 30 Nov 2014 23:55:33 +1100

About 2 years ago I tried Windows 8 on a laptop. The experiment left me somewhat underwhelmed. In the meantime Windows 7 (or Server 2008) has become the new norm for the Microsoft conglomerate, as they officially end support for XP and Server 2003.

Microsoft has often delivered software with performance and quality that could be described as "underwelming". Considering their past record, the W7 (or Server 2008) release seems to contain many improvements. Whether this came from the goodness of Microsoft's corporate heart and a desire to give their user base the very best software possible or the realisation that they have to lift their game if they are going to compete effectively with the growing base of Apple and Google products, Windows users can still enjoy the benefits since most of these improvements were long over-due. In truth many of these improvements were available with Vista. But the Vista release received such wide-spread disapprobation that very few people noticed them. These enhancements include:

Microsoft have also made attempts at improving and extending the powershell ... Although I remain unconvinced by the powershell, which was introduced several years ago. Microsoft certainly is doing a lot to promote its use ... For example, in an effort to encourage users of CMD and Unix shell, there is an impressive array of aliases ... Some of these are as follows:

Anyone who regularly uses the command line would be very familiar with at least half of the commands in the above list (depending on which side of the Windows/Unix fence you sit) ... So there is some rationale behind including these aliases in the powershell ... For example the aliases "dir", "ls" and "gci" are all aliases for the powershell command "Get-ChildItem" ... Which kinda makes sense for folks who just type "ls" or "dir" by force of habit. But the alias "gci" is the only one that makes any sense. Because any veteran user from either side of the Unix/Windows divide would be more likely to type something like the following:

    :: Windows:
    dir /a:d
    dir /o:d /p

    # unix shell:
    ls -l
    ls -alr

However, when the above commands are entered into the powershell it will return a weird back-handed message that reflects the cold hard reality that the powershell alias is nothing like the Unix "ls" command or the "dir" command built in to the Windows CMD shell ... The powershell "Get-ChildItem" cmdlet is meant to be a universal command line API to the file structure, the registry and Certificates. And like all powershell cmdlets the default output is unicode, so if you use redirection (without extra options to set the encoding) you should be careful only to include the windows unicode ready commands ... Otherwise you will get a surprise ... Shell users who are used to using pipes, re-direction will soon discover that the powershell does not really handle pipes and redirection at all. It merely substitutes it's own rather arcane set of commands for redirection and pipe operators. If you want to change the character set you need to add a parameter (-encoding).

Apart from simple commands like "echo" and (arguably) "man" (for "Get-Help"), the aliases are nugatory. And a dedicated powershell user would be more likely to use aliases for the long-winded powershell cmdlets.

And now that the CMD shell has been fixed and enhanced there actually seems little benefit from learning all of the powershell cmdlets. Microsoft have shown in the past that they are quick to drop support for products that are not "popular" ... And before making the considerable investment in learning the new commands, most programmers would want a clear demonstration of the benefits and Microsoft's commitment to long term support of the powershell.

Note: To make Windows 7 display folder extensions:

  1. Control Panel->Appearance->Folder Options
  2. Click on "View"
  3. Clear the check box that says "Hide extensions for known file types"

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Copyright     2014, Gerry Patterson. All Rights Reserved.