This short guide compares PowerShell vs CMD (Windows command prompt). I will cover the history and nature of the two tools, their command name format and scripting capabilities.
What is Windows PowerShell vs CMD?
PowerShell is a task-based command-line shell and scripting language built on .NET. PowerShell helps with task automation via PowerShell Scripting.
CMD (Command Prompt) is a Windows command line interpreter used to execute CMD commands. CMD can also be used to automate tasks via batch scripting.
In the next 3 sections, I will be comparing PowerShell vs CMD in 3 different areas: History, Command name format and how both compare for ease of task automation (scripting).
PowerShell vs CMD: History
CMD have been part of the Windows Operating System while PowerShell is relatively new. PowerShell version 1 was released on September 26, 2006.
Another major difference between PS and CMD is how they are built. While CMD is a native Windows console application, PowerShell is built on .NET Framework.
On 18 August 2016, Microsoft introduced .NET Core and made PowerShell an open source tool.
PowerShell vs CMD: Command Name Format
One other way you can differentiate CMD and PS is in their command name format. Command prompt commands are usually one word, while PowerSell commands are two words.
PS commands are structured in Verb-Noun format, called cmdlets. The first part of a PowerShell cmdlet is usually a verb, while the second part is a Noun.
An example of a PS command is Get-Help. In CMD, this is simply Help. Another example is the Dir CMD command. In PowerShell, it is Get-ChildItem.
PowerShell vs CMD: Scripting Capabilities
You can use both PowerShell and CMD for scripting. But do they have the same level of scripting capabilities? No. I have scripted in both CMD and PowerShell and I can clearly say that PS gives you more options. Did I say more options? No, it is way better!
PS even allows you to create your own Functions and Modules. This gives you power to go beyond scripting (a collection of PowerShell commands). Batch scripting is very limited when compared with PowerShell scripting.
PowerShell vs CMD: PS Commands for Common CMD Commands
If you want to get started with basic PS commands, below I have some common CMD commands and their PowerShell equivalent.
|S/N||CMD Command||What It Does||PS Equivalent|
|2||RENAME||Renames a File||Rename-Item|
|3||DIR||List files and folders in a Directory||Get-ChildItem|
|4||HELP||Provides help information for Windows commands.||*Get-Help|
|5||FORMAT||Formats a disk for use with Windows||Format-Volume|
The Get-Help cmdlet displays information about Windows PowerShell commands and concepts.
To learn more about PowerShell visit our Windows PowerShell page.
PowerShell vs CMD: Summary
The table below summarizes the differences between PowerShell vs CMD:
|1||History||Have been around since Windows OS was launched*||Became available in 2006|
|2||Command Name Format||One word commands||two-word commands (Verb-Noun format)|
|4||Scripting Capabilities||Limited capabilities||Provides more advanced scripting capabilities including ability to create PS Functions and Modules|
|5||Build||Native Windows Application||Built on Microsoft .NET Framework and later .NET Core|
* This excludes MS-DOS.
If you are comparing PowerShell vs CMD to decide which is better, you have your answer. CMD is great but PowerShell takes task automation to the next level. Every Windows Administrator should know PS!
If you have any question or comment, use the “Leave a Reply” form at the end of this guide. You could also share your experience with PowerShell and CMD so other readers can benefit from it.
Other Helpful Guides
- 18 Most Useful Powershell Commands for Windows Admins
- Powershell NoTypeInformation: Applications and Examples
- PowerShell ForEach: Applications with examples