Thursday, November 20, 2008

PowerShell V2 Release Timescales

In yesterday’s PowerShell related blog entry, I noted that the next CTP for V3 is coming very soon. Like the child sitting in the back of the car on a long journey, I just want V2 to be here now. But despite wanting it, and frankly expecting it by now – it’s not here and won’t be for a wee while (i.e. around a year from now). At one level that’s bad, but at several others, it’s good as I explain in this post!

First the basic release news. On his blog, super-star and good friend Dmitry Sotnikov sets out the dates that Microsoft announced at TechEd EMEA. Namely:

  • CTP3 - Dec 20087 CTP 3. NB: this may be called Beta 1
  • RTM – in Windows 7 and Windows 7 Server (aka Windows 2008 Server R2), when that ships. Late 2009 or Early 2007.
  • RTM – for XP, 2003, Vista and Server 2008 (RTM) – a few months after that, V2 will be available for download to these older OS versions.

So the final versions of V2 won’t be here for at least a year, and possibly longer for those of us using legacy OSs. So that’s the “bad” news. I also expect V2 to be baked into Exchange 14, so may ship early if for some reason Exchange 14 ships earlier. We’ll know more about the Exchange 14 time scales in due course.

So that sounds bad. It’s life – things take longer than we’d like! But there’s also two bits of good news.

First, there will be more CTP releases. CTP3 has a AWESOME set of features. While we wait to get the final version, the CTPs will allow us PowerShell addicts to have some fun, and develop stuff that will prove even more valuable once RTM occurs. For example, all the scripts over on the PowerShell Scripts blog should all work just fine on V2 – and going forward, some will require V2 or a pre-release of V2 to run (well probably!). So in the short time, there’s plenty of updated features to get to know and leverage.

But the really good news is that PowerShell is now a fully fledged Feature within Windows. Whilst many of us probably think this should have happened with Server 2008/Vista, but that did not happen. Being a Feature means PowerShell is just as important to the overall product as say the file system, the kernel or the fail-over clustering component.

This means that going forward, we’ll see PowerShell align with OS release schedules. Just as there are not major updates of say Active Directory, File sharing, or Failover Clustering outside of a full OS release, there is far less likely to be any major updates to PowerShell outside major OS releases. Thus, we’ll see updates at around the 2 year cycle at best. That is provides the team with a much clearer time frame in which to produce V3, V4, etc.

The reason this is good, is that other OS Win 7 feature teams can take dependencies on PowerShell V2 in order to produce new Cmdlets, etc, knowing that V2 will be ready and will ship at the same time! This also means a whole lot more testing – testing all those cool upcoming cmdlets with PowerShell V2 code. While all the recent releases of PowerShell have been pretty reliable, the more testing the better! And of course, since ISVs can now count on V2, they can target new product releases to run on R2 and can make PowerShell support part of their tool kits.

We’ll also see another important thing in Windows 7/Server 20098 R2 – PowerShell in Server Core. Horray! This to my mind enables a much more unified admin experience (or darn well better!) for Server core. The mixture of obscure command line utilities and near-random VB Script files was just awful. With PowerShell, things should be a whole lot easier. And where there are existing tools that continue to be valuable but are obscure, the community can develop wrappers (i.e. PowerShell Functions or scripts) to vastly simplify the use of those tools. All in all, this represents a great step forward!

So while I really wanted V2 by now, waiting another year or so really isn’t that bad. It’s a wait that I find OK – the result is worth it. I’m pretty excited about the potential. Or should I say I’ STILL pretty excited about the potential.

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