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Understanding how new features work in each PowerShell version

Each PowerShell version has different features made useful by add-ins and snap-ins, so admins have to pay attention to what features work where.

Why doesn't the PowerShell 3.0 NetAdapter work with every version of PowerShell?

PowerShell itself is a standalone product included with the Windows operating system. It's also distributed for free via the Web on Microsoft's website. Windows 7 came with PowerShell 2.0, and you can download and install PowerShell 3.0 on Windows 7. Windows 8 comes with PowerShell 3.0.

The add-in modules (or snap-ins, for older technologies) that add commands to the shell are what make PowerShell useful. Those modules don't come with every PowerShell version, although they're used by PowerShell. The NetAdapter module is a good example of this because it is a feature of Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012. It requires PowerShell 3.0, but it doesn't come with PowerShell 3.0 -- it comes with the operating system.

This situation is made more confusing by the fact that some modules do come with Windows PowerShell, like the PSScheduledJob and PSWorkflow modules. Those modules add core shell functionality rather than interacting with operating system components like the network adapters.

Every new PowerShell version will introduce new features. Some of those features may be dependent upon newer OS versions; even though that version of the shell will otherwise install and run on older versions, you'll just be missing those features. Some new shell features will run on any version of Windows that version of the shell runs on. But most manageability features don't come with PowerShell -- they're features of the OS or of the software product.

For example, the Exchange PowerShell commands can't be used to manage Exchange Server 2003 because they're a specific feature of Exchange Server 2007 and later. The SharePoint Server 2010 commands can't manage SharePoint 2003 because they're a specific feature of the 2010 version. Similarly, many of the modules in Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 are features of those OS versions, and won't be available on older versions.

About the author
Don Jones is a well-known and respected PowerShell expert and educator. He's co-author of three books on PowerShell (see PowerShellBooks.com for a list). You can find his content online, including his PowerShell Q&A forums, by visiting DonJones.com.

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