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Microsoft Exchange Server and PowerShell: The Debate Continues

The recent announcement of Exchange 14 once again brings up reader feelings about Exchange Server's reliance on Windows PowerShell for Exchange management.

When Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 was released a little over two years ago, one of the biggest drawbacks in the minds of many admins was its reliance on Windows PowerShell. In fact, some of our readers were quite vocal and angry over this situation. The release of Exchange 2007 SP1 added more functionality to the GUI, Exchange Management Console (EMC), but certain tasks can still only be performed through Exchange Management Shell (EMS).

Last week, KC Lemson posted the first public information about Exchange 14 on the Microsoft Exchange Team Blog and invited people to reply with what features they're most interested in hearing about in the new version. I suppose it should be no surprise that at least part of the reader dialog that followed centered on this issue of PowerShell.

A commenter named Thomas wrote:
"I applaud the efforts to make more management tasks doable via the GUI instead of just in powershell. Exchange 2007 RTM was severely lacking in that respect with even common tasks like Send On Behalf permissions requiring long power shell commands. In small/medium organization's IT depts. we need to be Jack of All Trades (and masters of none) since 2 or 3 man IT depts. don't have the manpower to specialize in Exchange Management and memorize the long powershell commands."

And Lord Melch replied:
"Well said Thomas. Powershell? For big orgs OK, for everyone else? Why?"

Taking up the other side of the argument, Hal Rottenberg said:
"If you value your time (and your boss values the money he gives you), then you should be learning PowerShell, regardless of whether you work with Exchange or not. As they say, if you repeat it, script it."

I for one am a big fan of automation. I use Word 2007 just about constantly, and while I like the Ribbon interface, I still use macros with keyboard shortcuts for any functions I use frequently. Yes, it takes a few extra minutes to set those things up, but the benefits in the long run are worth it. Likewise, it seems like scripting common Exchange tasks with PowerShell would be well worth the time investment.

With the release of Exchange 14 looming, and its expected continued use of PowerShell through EMS, I'm wondering how Exchange Server admins are feeling about their management options now. I'd love to hear your stories: If you prefer to work through the GUI, what ways have you discovered to work around limitations in Exchange 2007? Or maybe you were resistant at first but have come to embrace the control EMS gives you. If you're using Exchange Server 2007, you can't avoid PowerShell, so how do you cope? Post a comment below or send me an email to let me know.

Look for Paul Robichaux's article on turning PowerShell commands into scripts for Exchange management, coming in March 2009 to Meanwhile, take a look at some of the resources below that we've published on Exchange 2007 management through EMS.

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