PowerShell Help Update

When PowerShell version 3 arrived, the news that there wouldn’t be any built-in help was initially met by a load of groans, since it had been one of the first things that anyone would tell you to look at when you’re trying to learn PowerShell. Since then, Microsoft has explained the problems with in-the-box help, and I think that most people have come round to thinking that updateable help is, on balance, the better option.

This week we’re seeing the real-world benefits of that with the first significant update to the help. If you run PowerShell as administrator and run Update-Help, you’re going to get new content for the PowerShell core and workflow help. There’s updated help content for the cmdlets and 112 About topics.

The update only applies to the en-US culture so far. Expect it to be localised to other cultures before too long.

Windows 8 Arrives

Today marks general availability for Microsoft’s Windows 8 and also their Surface tablet running Windows RT. I’ve been using Windows 8 for some time and I do like it, but there is a learning curve and it does take a bit of getting used to. I just wanted to post a couple of links to help people get up to speed as quickly as possible…

Firstly, for the absolute beginner, we have Joanna Stern’s 8 Things You Need to Know About Using Windows 8 on ABC News. Joanna does a good job of going throught the most important things you need to get started in a video that runs under 4 minutes.

One additional tip from me – to make the Start screen really pop by bringing those tiles to life, you’re going to have to launch some of the apps first. Jump into Weather, News and Sport, then back to the Start screen and see the difference.

The Microsoft Windows site has some How-To guides to particular features on it’s Get to know Windows page and if you find yourself stuck, you can get help from the Support page.

IT Pros, you can get a bit more in-depth info from the Windows 8 Jump Start on TechNet.

Not enough info? Got an insatiable desire for Windows 8 knowledge? O’Reilly have a couple of free webcasts coming up:
8+ Features You Will Love to Use in Windows 8 on the 31st October
Getting Started with Windows 8 on the 1st November

Incidentally, Microsoft added something like a thousand new apps to the Windows Store in the last 24 hours. Skype is now there, as is Lync. In addidion to those, I recommend you add OneNote to your Windows 8 or RT machine – it’s my favourite Office app and you’re getting it here for free with SkyDrive synching. If you want something to really show off how good apps can look on Windows 8/RT, then you should get the beautiful Cocktail Flow app.

PowerShell Plus goes free!

Idera’s award winning integrated devlopment environment PowerShell Plus has dropped the price tag and is now free for anyone to download and use.

As well as being a great tool for writing scripts and running PowerShell interactively, it’s comes with a boat load of code snippets and built-in learning resources for beginners as well as advanced features for power users.

This isn’t an ad, just a genuine recommendation – check out the full feature list and download PowerShell Plus now.

Office 2013 and Exchange RTM

I woke up this morning to the news that both Office 2013 and Exchange had reached RTM (Release to Manufacturing) status. I’ve been using the Office customer preview for a while, and I’m generally pretty pleased with it, so I’m certainly looking forward to being able to install the final version when it hits TechNet in mid-November.

Generally I think that Office feels cleaner, and while I haven’t found many new features that I’m frequently using (except the handy way that text re-aligns in real-time around an image in Word, and the guidelines that help you line things up nicely), I do like the little improvements, like how smooth the movement of the cursor is while I’m composing a message in Outlook (I know, but when you notice it, you’ll like it!).

There are some things that I’m not so keen on. I used to use the To-Do bar in a collapsed position so that I could always see my next upcoming appointment without taking up much of the screen. It now seems that I can’t have it collapsed, so I either have it fully expanded or not at all. I know there are other ways to see your next appointment quickly, but when I normally have Outlook on its own screen it was always there. Mousing over “Calendar” brings up useful information, but only when Outlook has focus.

Incidentally, I found some of these Outlook 2013 tips useful.

On the Exchange side, I think it’s time to start looking into the new Exchange Administration Center (EAC – always makes me think of Crush the turtle from Finding Nemo, dude!) and all the new PowerShell cmdlets and changes in the Exchange Management Shell. I expect I’ll be posting about that in the future, especially since we’re losing some discoverability that used to be in the EMC and isn’t in EAC.

I’m looking forward to seeing which new features we’re going to get in the next update to Office 365. In the past, especially with Exchange, you would plan upgrades for a long time since it was a significant project. In the Office 365 world, having the upgrade path be managed by Microsoft and suddenly having a new version is quite fun – it’s like waking up to see what Santa has brought on Christmas morning! 🙂