First Steps

PowerShell is neither the ugly blue console window you might have seen nor any other visible program. PowerShell is a hidden set of DLLs deeply buried inside of Windows, designed to accept commands and return results. So to “talk” to PowerShell, you need a tool that accepts your commands and displays the results.  These tools are called “PowerShell Hosts”, and there are two hosts shipping with PowerShell:

Discover the PowerShell Console
The PowerShell console has a very small memory footprint and is used to launch scripts or enter simple commands. Discover the PowerShell Console and its capabilities
Discover the ISE Editor
The ISE editor is a more sophisticated PowerShell host. It helps you find commands, has “IntelliSense” menus with suggestions, and contains a text editor so you can save your code for later. Discover the ISE editor and its capabilities

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32bit PowerShell Hosts

On 64bit machines, both hosts exists in pairs: there is one for 32bit and one for 64bit. The 32bit sibling carries the prefix “(x86)”. The “(x86)” hosts should be avoided. Use them only if you must execute code that cannot run in a 64bit environment.

32bit PowerShell Hosts

You might discover the 32bit PowerShell hosts when you open the Windows start menu and search for “powershell”.

Pick Your PowerShell Host

It’s completely up to you which host you prefer. You might even want to use them both, depending on what you are up to:

  • Typically, the console is used to “fire up” a bunch of commands because since the console is so simple, it launches really fast. So use the PowerShell Console when you pretty much know the command(s) you want to run.
  • Typically, the ISE is used when you want to work with PowerShell commands and scripts, and do or learn new things. The ISE Editor is a “Development Environment” so it implies that you want to develop something new – new code, new commands, or new knowledge.

As you know by now, a PowerShell host simply takes your commands, sends them to PowerShell, and displays the returned results. The Console and the ISE Editor just differ in the richness of help and convenience to assist you with writing code.

Checking Your Powershell Version
PowerShell surfaced in 2006 and since then, a lot of improvements were made. A total of five PowerShell versions evolved over the years, each building on top of the other and adding more features. It is strongly recommended that you work with the most current PowerShell Version so you don’t miss out on features and security enhancements. Find out your PowerShell version and whether there is a new version available for you
Essential PowerShell Configuration
Initially, PowerShell works in a limited mode and only accepts interactive commands. To fully leverage its capabilities, a small set of settings controls what you can do and what you cannot do. Before you start working with PowerShell on a new computer, you should review these settings (and adjust them if necessary). Explore PowerShell Configuration