Getting Started with PowerShell

Fri, Dec 8, 2006 3-minute read

One of the more common questions we get from people interested in PowerShell is “how do I get started?” They see  examples of PowerShell weilding its considerable strength, and are often intimidated by a perceived learning curve. It doesn’t have to be that way, though — PowerShell is easy to start playing with, and easy to continue learning.

First of all, you’ll want to download PowerShell. If you visit, you’ll get to the PowerShell homepage that lists an enormous number of resources. One of the first resources is a link to the download location.

Next, just start the shell and start exploring. The DOS commands you may (or may not) be used to still work: dir, cd, ipconfig, etc. Many of the UNIX commands you may (or may not) be used to  still work: ls, cd, ps, etc.

Then, take a dip into the awesome documentation that PowerShell ships with. The PowerShell menu on your start menu links to them directly:

  • Getting started: A 32-page overview of PowerShell and its core concepts
  • Quick reference: A 2-page summary of PowerShell’s scripting language
  • User Guide: A 116-page user guide for PowerShell. Perhaps unbelievable but true, it is a really useful book that we include for free with the product.
  • Help content: A large amount of help is available through the Get-Help cmdlet  – see both the Getting Started documentation and User Guide for more information about this powerful command.

However, some people just like to sit back and have their learning delivered to them. You’re in good company there, too, as there are plenty of those resources.

Ars Technica wrote probably the best online overview, back when PowerShell was called “Monad”:

There are also interviews, videos, screencasts, and more:

Once you start exploring deeper, there is a fantastic opportunity for continual learning:

And, did I mention that this hasn’t cost you a thing yet?

If you want books or individualized training, you continue to have many options:

  • O’Reilly’s PowerShell Cookbook:
    584 pages of PowerShell recipes that focus squarely on showing you how to use PowerShell to get your job done. It builds on a huge base of distilled knowledge, and includes:
    • Solutions to the most popular and searched-for TechNet / Script Center topics
    • Scripts that address the most common community, newsgroup, and new user questions
    • Scripts that wrap around and hide the complexity of advanced (but very useful) PowerShell scripting techniques
    • Task-based introduction to all of PowerShell’s major features
  • Bruce Payette’s PowerShell in Action:
    The best in-depth book for the scripting language you could ask for, from one of its co-designers.
  • O’Reilly’s PowerShell Quick Reference:
    My 120-page guide (in PDF format) that provides the essential reference material for your day-to-day use of PowerShell.  With a concise explanation at your fingertips, there is no need to memorize esoteric topics like regular expressions and string formatting specifiers. Aside from its straight factual reference material, the Quick Reference also provides an enormous amount of value by distilling large bodies of practical knowledge into their most usable forms, including: the most useful classes from the .NET Framework, useful WMI classes, and useful COM automation objects.
  • More books:
  • Internet serach for “PowerShell  training”

So, jump in and enjoy the revolution!