Monday, July 25, 2011

Legacy Scripting Still King of User Empowerment

Attention has been shifting from legacy Windows scripting languages like VBScript to PowerShell. This is appropriate because PowerShell is, if you excuse the expression, more powerful.

However, there is one area where legacy scripting edges out PowerShell: user empowerment. What I mean by "user empowerment" is the ability for a user to unilaterally control their own computing environment.

For Windows XP and Vista, PowerShell has to be downloaded and installed. This requires Administrator privileges that some users won't have. PowerShell is bundled with Windows 7, but scripting is disabled by default and enabling it also requires Administrator privileges.

Now, in an ideal world, you'd contact your IT department and they'd promptly install PowerShell or enable it for you. In practice, however, there are usually institutional hurdles that make this a difficult and invasive process.

So if you find yourself on a locked-down Windows PC and you want to automate some of your work, consider VBScript or JScript.


Correction: on twitter informed me that you can enable PowerShell scripting without Administrator privileges for the current user. The command to use is: Set-ExecutionPolicy -Scope currentuser -ExecutionPolicy unrestricted