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Windows Management Framework 4.0 Preview Adds PowerShell 4 Features

Microsoft on Tuesday released a "preview" test version of Windows Management Framework (WMF) 4.0, which opens up new PowerShell 4 capabilities for older Windows systems.

The WMF 4.0 preview is a bundle of support technologies for Windows server or client operating system installations that enables some new Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows 8.1 technologies on older Windows releases. The older OSes supported by the preview include Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1 or Windows Server 2012, as well as Windows 7 Service Pack 1, according to Microsoft's announcement.

One of the main benefits of WMF 4.0 is the enablement of the Desired State Configuration (DSC) platform in Windows PowerShell 4. PowerShell DSC is a new capability that taps a new "Configuration" keyword. It lets IT pros declare through scripting how they want their software environment to be configured at target nodes. PowerShell DSC can be used to set server roles, manage the registry settings, and manage groups and user accounts, according to a Microsoft TechNet library description. PowerShell expert Don Jones has speculated that DSC could even be used instead of Group Policy Objects over time.

PowerShell DSC generates the management object format and sends it over to target nodes, according to Kenneth Hansen, principal program manager on the PowerShell team. The node looks up each resource independently in a push model.

"PowerShell DSC's intent is to ensure your datacenter has the desired configuration," Hansen said at a May 16 session of the "Cloud OS Reviewer Workshop" event, held at Microsoft's Redmond headquarters. He added that PowerShell DSC can help "ward off configuration drift." Hansen claimed that there is a "apply previous setting" rollback protection for PowerShell DSC users and that "this ought to be able to be designed and debugged by a junior engineer."

In addition to PowerShell DSC, the WMF 4.0 preview includes other updates. It includes updates to the Windows PowerShell Integrated Scripting Environment, Windows PowerShell Web Services, Windows Remote Management and Windows Management Instrumentation functions.

This WMF 4.0 preview release is loaded with caveats, as well as a 22-page "Release Notes" document (Word doc). Microsoft is saying that this preview should not be used in a production environment and that users won't be able to upgrade from the preview version to the final release, when it becomes available.

Microsoft also warns that the WMF 4.0 preview should not be used with many of Microsoft's newer application releases at this time. It may make IT pros less enthusiastic about testing the WMF 4.0 preview, but Microsoft indicates it shouldn't be used with the following applications:

  • "System Center 2012 Configuration Manager (not including SP1)
  • "System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2 (including SP1)
  • "Microsoft Exchange Server 2013, Microsoft Exchange Server 2010, and Microsoft Exchange Server 2007
  • "Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013 and Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010
  • "Windows Small Business Server 2011 and Windows Small Business Server 2008"

The WMF 4.0 preview can be downloaded here. It's not clear when the final product will be released, but Microsoft has indicated that it will release Windows Server 2012 R2 before the end of this year.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is online news editor for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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