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Microsoft's "MSH" shell

I am shocked and dismayed. Something awful is happening in Gates Land.

We all know that command lines are evil, and GUI is the future. That "awful command line" has been slated for extinction because point and click is SO much easier for EVERYTHING.

But here's Microsoft promising a super-duper whiz-bang command line for Longhorn? Huh? What's up, Billy? Didja suddenly understand that administrators NEED a command line?

Yes. That's exactly what is behind this. You need good command line tools to administer any system. Microsoft doesn't grok command line tools, has very few of them that are worth anything, so they are going to offer this improved shell. But, as Microsoft always does, they had to piddle in it to make it taste better. Bash wouldn't work for them, because the rest of their OS isn't text oriented. Therefore, they had to invent this "MSH" mess. And it is a mess. Is this any way to run a pipeline?

MSH> get-process | where { $_.vs -gt 150000000} | pick-object name, 
path, id, vs | sort-object vs -d

ROTFL. Oh, yeah, that Unix command line stuff is really HARD, isn't it? Esoteric commands, confusing switches, oh my. Welcome to MSH: Wherever you wanted to go today, better brush up on your typing first.

Oh, well. If anything, this should accelerate admins embracing Linux. Admins who taste MSH will quickly realize how Unix/Linux shells make so much more sense.

How about this motto: "Microsoft: What do you want to type today?"

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© Tony Lawrence

---January 6, 2005

Ya, a guy I pissed off a guy that I was talking to a while ago on a different forum. He worked for Microsoft and he went into a thread about Unix shells and began talking about how wonderful MSH was.

Trouble was I (and nobody else) could try it out because: 1. I don't run any Windows machines. (I would actually like to get win2003, but I am not going to pay 200 dollars for a version that is missing most of the features) 2. I don't work for Microsoft.

So I asked a hundred questions about it seeing if it fixed any of the crappiness of the old CMD type stuff. He thought I was attacking him, and got pissed.

A missunderanding though. I was just curious. I never realy learned how to use the NT-style command line.

One of the major points the MS employee pointed out that the MSH was realy superior because it could pipe more then just plain text (unlike bash, I suppose he thought). It was much more powerfull because it could pipe data streams from standardized configuration services and was much easier to use and avoided text manipulation of files, which everybody knows is the most difficult and error prone form of programming you can do.

Or something along those lines.

Of course I realised that he didn't realy understand what he was talking about and was spouting off MS sales-talk. Not a big deal, he probably realy did think that dealing with plain text sucks.

I think the deal with the MSH is how all the GUI configuration tools delt with all sorts of binary data and this data can be piped thru other complex tools to create powerfull scripts. Like you could pipe a bunch of user configurations and perform a operation on each and every record then put that thru the network to another server.

The whole thing seems to be missing the point to me, but whatever. I wouldn't mind a chance to play around with it a bit.

Of course it's not the first time MS tried to woo people away from Unix with a good command shell. http://wigner.cped.ornl.gov/the-gang/1999-01/1396.html


---January 6, 2005

---January 8, 2005


Some Humor: I've been attending the USENIX NT and LISA NT (Large Installation Systems Administration for NT) conference in downtown Seattle this week.

One of those magical Microsoft moments(tm) happened yesterday and I thought that I'd share. Non-geeks may not find this funny at all, but those in geekdom (particularly UNIX geekdom) will appreciate it.

Greg Sullivan, a Microsoft product manager (henceforth MPM), was holding forth on a forthcoming product that will provide Unix style scripting and shell services on NT for compatibility and to leverage UNIX expertise that moves to the NT platform. The product suite includes the MKS (Mortise Kern Systems) windowing Korn shell, a windowing PERL, and lots of goodies like awk, sed and grep. It actually fills a nice niche for which other products (like the MKS suite) have either been too highly priced or not well enough integrated.

An older man, probably mid-50s, stands up in the back of the room and asserts that Microsoft could have done better with their choice of Korn shell. He asks if they had considered others that are more compatible with existing UNIX versions of KSH.

The MPM said that the MKS shell was pretty compatible and should be able to run all UNIX scripts.

The questioner again asserted that the MKS shell was not very compatible and didn't do a lot of things right that are defined in the KSH language spec.

The MPM asserted again that the shell was pretty compatible and shouldwork quite well.

This assertion and counter assertion went back and forth for a bit, when another fellow member of the audience announced to the MPM that the questioner was, in fact David Korn of AT&amp;T (now Lucent) Bell Labs--the author of the Korn shell.

Uproarious laughter burst forth from the audience, and it was one of the only times that I have seen a (by then pink cheeked) MPM lost for words or momentarily lacking the usual unflappable confidence.

Sun Jun 19 16:43:12 2005: 670   TonyLawrence

The MSH shell is now available for you to play with
(assuming you have a Windows box, of course):

Thu Mar 6 00:30:41 2008: 3787   TonyLawrence

Windows Server 2008 doesn't even have a GUI - the sky is falling!

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