If the idea of using a command line to perform Exchange Server 2007 administration tasks scares you, a new freeware tool aims to allay that fear. Quest Software is offering PowerGUI, a free GUI front end for Windows PowerShell that lets you see as little—or as much—of PowerShell command syntax as you want. "We put a GUI on top of PowerShell to address the learning-curve issue that IT professionals have to overcome," said Dmitry Sotnikov, New Product Research Manager for Quest. "The new interface provides an MMC-like console, to help them get familiar with \[PowerShell\] and learn the new syntax."

Quest provides a PowerGUI demo, given by Dmitry, which walks you through performing some basic Exchange 2007 mailbox management tasks to give you a feel for using the tool. The company also created an online community for users to discuss PowerShell, which also includes a link to download PowerGUI. Dmitry estimates that about one-third of the PowerShell discussion activity is around Exchange 2007 administration, while the other two-thirds are related to using the command shell with Microsoft System Center Operations Manager 2007 and Active Directory.

Dmitry said that PowerGUI will remove some of the pain of adjusting to the command shell that Exchange administrators might face—for example, making performing a scheduled task, such as database maintenance, easier through a GUI (as admins were used to doing through Exchange System Manager). You might wonder (as I did) whether a graphical front end will remove admins' incentive to learn to use PowerShell. But Dmitry believes that PowerGUI will instead help IT pros get used to working with PowerShell commands at their own pace as well as use the GUI for certain tasks and the command line for others. "We don't see it as 'either, or'. The command line and PowerGUI complement each other well," he said.