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Microsoft launches PowerShell and sets Longhorn timeline

Future Microsoft strategy underlined with the formal launch of one new product and various versions and enhancements

In a wide-ranging stream of announcements this week, Microsoft has added substance to its plans for the future of Windows Server and formally launched a new scripting engine, PowerShell.

The announcements were made by Microsoft's vice president for servers and tools, Bob Muglia, in a whirlwind tour in front of nearly 7,500 delegates at the TechEd IT Forum in Barcelona on Tuesday.

Leading the way was the Windows PowerShell 1.0, Microsoft's new command-line shell and scripting tool, which IT managers can use to control their Windows systems. PowerShell will help IT professionals "achieve greater productivity, more easily control system administration and accelerate automation," said the company.

PowerShell can be downloaded from Microsoft's website, and further information is available on the company's Vista blog.

It is designed to work with Exchange Server 2007, System Center Operations Manager 2007, Verson 2 of System Center Data Protection Manager and System Center Virtual Machine Manager.

PowerShell has been built in to the next new version of Windows Server, Longhorn, and is seen by Microsoft as an important step in the build-up to the launch of Longhorn next year. It will work with Windows XP and Server 2003, but some bloggers have complained that it doesn't yet work with Vista.

Also available this week, Microsoft said, is a release candidate of Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 2 (SP2) for Windows Server 2003 Release 2 and the 64-bit version of Windows XP Professional. Microsoft said that SP2 provides a range of new features including better security, reliability and faster performance in Windows Server 2003.

Microsoft also said that it will now release Beta three of Longhorn server — the next version of Windows Server — in the first half of 2007. It also announced the first public beta of Forefront Client Security and new Dynamics CRM and SharePoint optimisers for its Intelligent Access Gateway remote access