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Microsoft launches PowerShell, sets timeline for Longhorn

Strategy for the next version of Windows Server is underlined with the formal launch of the PowerShell scripting engine.

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 front of nearly 7,500 delegates at Microsoft's TechEd IT Forum in Barcelona on Tuesday.

Leading the way was 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," the company said.

PowerShell can be downloaded from Microsoft's Web site, 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 into the next 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 3 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.

Colin Barker reported for ZDNet UK in London.