Since Microsoft's recent announcement about what will and won't be in the next major release of Windows, most of the attention has been focused on WinFS. Lost in the shadows is a significant overhaul of the scripting engine.
Like the WinFS file system in the pre-beta version of Longhorn, the early build of the new scripting engine will also change the way administrators interact with contacts. At some point, you have probably opened a Command Prompt window and navigated through the file system by
In Longhorn, you will also be able to navigate through WinFS, the Active Directory and the System Registry from the Command Prompt. This means that you will be able to perform file system queries from the command line or from within a batch file and send the results to the registry, to the Active Directory or to another file system object.
For example, if you wanted to create a Word document containing every user in the Active Directory with the last name of Smith and then e-mail it to someone in your contacts list, you would probably have to either do it manually or spend a long time writing a complex script. However, the Longhorn scripting engine will allow you to accomplish this task with just a few lines of code.
Scripting engine to come before Longhorn
Granted, it's not every day that someone asks you to do that sort of task, but the point is that Longhorn will make it incredibly easy to interact with all types of objects and their attributes. Because of this, I expect that we will start to see applications becoming much more flexible.
It will also be possible to make Web sites do things that were never before thought to be possible such as interacting directly with Active Directory.
The good news is that although Longhorn and the WinFS file system is still more than year away, the scripting engine will be available relatively soon. Microsoft is preparing to release a revised version of Windows Server 2003, code named R2, that will incorporate the new scripting engine. You will be able to start writing these powerful new scripts right away, although you won't be able to exploit the scripting engine's full potential until the WinFS file system is released.
Brien M. Posey, MCSE, is a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional for his work with Windows 2000 Server and IIS. He has served as the CIO for a nationwide chain of hospitals and was once in charge of IT security for Fort Knox. As a freelance technical writer he has written for Microsoft, CNET, ZDNet, TechTarget, MSD2D, Relevant Technologies and other technology companies. Click here to visit Posey's personal Web site.