Command Prompt vs. Powershell

When releasing Windows 7, Microsoft also introduced PowerShell, a robust set of commands for operating system instructions. The scripts are more like program files than batch files. On the other hand, Command Prompt, also known as CMD, is a default Windows application that directly interacts with any Windows objects in the Windows OS. Users can use it to run simple utilities and execute batch files.

In comparison, PowerShell is a more advanced edition of Command Prompt, and it’s not just an interface but a scripting language that helps users carry out administrative tasks more effortlessly. Most of the commands that CMD executes can also run on PowerShell. What, then, is the difference between PowerShell and Command Prompt?

What Is PowerShell?

The scripting framework of PowerShell allows for task automation. It incorporates a scripting language, command-line shell, and a .NET framework, all of which work together to deliver a tool that enables administrators to automate most of their regular daily tasks. Besides, the platform provides developers with a comprehensive library of functions.

For the .NET processes to be more accessible, PowerShell uses a combination of cmdlets, which serve as utilities in PowerShell scripts. While the platform provides a set of cmdlets, developers can also create their own.

PowerShell is easy to integrate with the Component Object Model (COM) to develop more complex scripts. These new creations can call on many other packages on the Windows platform to issue commands, exchange data, and receive back statuses. The service comes in handy for developers of applications that have PowerShell as their functional framework.

The Windows Management Instrumentation interface integrated into PowerShell provides an exciting feature to administrators. WMI is made available as a cmdlet allowing users to probe the status of a device or service running on Windows. They can then incorporate the findings into a PowerShell script. This comes in handy when checking the status for conditional processing and branching. This way, users can generate reports on the success or failure of every execution step.

Windows Command Prompt

CMD or Command Prompt was the first shell version developed for the Microsoft DOS operating system and remained the default until the release of Windows 10 build 14791. At this time, Microsoft converted PowerShell into the default option. CMD remains one of the last remnants of the MS-DOS OS that Microsoft removed from its list of operating systems.

PowerShell vs. CMD

The two platforms are entirely different, despite one being the successor of the other. However, there is a general perception that the ‘dir’ command works in the same way in both interfaces.

PowerShell relies on cmdlets to function, as they expose the underlying administration options inside of Windows. Before developing these programming objects, system admins would navigate the GUI to look for the options manually. The interface provided no easy way to reuse the workflow to change options on a large scale. The only option was to click through a series of menus to perform the desired actions.

PowerShell uses pipes, just like other shells, to share inputs and output data and chain cmdlets. The functions are not very different from what happens with bash in Linux. Pipes serve to help users create complex scripts that transfer data and parameters from one cmdlet to another. Besides, users can also create reusable automated scripts that make mass changes with variable data, for example, a list of servers.

One particular function of PowerShell is its ability to create pseudonyms for various cmdlets. These aliases can help a user set up their names for different scripts and cmdlets. This makes for a more straightforward process in switching between different shells. In Linux bash, the ‘Is’ command is equivalent to the ‘dir’ command that displays direct objects. Both of these commands function as an alias for cmdlet ‘Get-Childitem’ in PowerShell.

PowerShell vs. Command Prompt Examples

For a clearer picture of how the two interfaces work differently, here are some basic operations you can do with both of them and their correct syntax.

1. To change the location of a directory

  • PowerShell cmdlet: Set-Location “D:\testfolder”
  • CMD command: cd /d D:\testfolder”

2. Renaming a file

  • PowerShell cmdlet: Rename-Item “c:\file.txt” -NewName “new.txt”
  • CMD Command: rename c: \old.txt new.txt

3. To list files in a directory

  • Powershell cmdlet: Get-Childitem
  • CMD command: dir

4. Stop a process

  • PowerShell cmdlet: Stop-Process-Name “ApplicationName”
  • CMD command: Stop-Process- Name “Processname.”

5. Accessing the help command

  • Powershell cmdlet: Get-Help “cmdlet name”
  • CMD command: help [commadnname] [/?]

Differences between PowerShell and Command Prompt

The first notable difference between PowerShell and Command Prompt is in the year of release. CMD came earlier than PowerShell, having being introduced in 1981, while PowerShell came into the picture in 2006. Other differences are:

  • You can open both interfaces from run by typing the word PowerShell and CMD respectively to open each separately
  • PowerShell operates with Powershell cmdlets and batch commands, while CMD only works with batch commands
  • PowerShell allows you to create aliases for scripts and cmdlets for easier navigation, a function that’s not possible with CMD
  • You can pass the output of one cmdlet to another in PowerShell but can’t do so in CMD
  • The output in PowerShell is in object form, while in CMD, it’s in the form of text.
  • PowerShell can execute a sequence of cmdlets combined in a script, while a CMD command must first process to the end before another one runs.
  • PowerShell easily integrates with Microsoft cloud products, while CMD doesn’t offer that compatibility.
  • PowerShell supports Linux systems and can run all types of programs. On the contrary, CMD only runs console-type programs and doesn’t support Linux systems.

When to Use PowerShell

The PowerShell interface is the way to go for IT functions and system administrators. All the commands you could previously run on CMD are now available on PowerShell and have better functionality. Besides, PowerShell comes with all the cmdlets you will ever need for administrative functions.

Having PowerShell knowledge is a differentiator that could change the way you conduct administrative and system functions. If you would like to get started with the PowerShell interface but don’t know where to begin, 4BIS is here to help. We work with internal IT teams to help them with specialized IT projects and helpdesk services. Call us today and let us become the resource your internal IT department needs.

Written by James Forbis
Posted on: August 7, 2021