O’Reilly news

Monad: Introducing the New MSH Command Shell and Language for Windows

December 9, 2005

Sebastopol, CA--Of all the new products that Microsoft has made available in beta release over the past year, Monad might be the least known. But this new interactive command line and scripting language is essential for those who want to reduce the number of repetitive management steps in Windows systems. "At last, to the relief of administrators and power users everywhere, the command line is truly becoming a first-class citizen in the world of Windows system management," remarks Andy Oakley, lead program manager at Microsoft and author of Monad (O'Reilly, US $34.95).

As the first look at this powerful technology, Oakley's new book features more than forty hands-on labs and scripts. Each activity is designed to familiarize users with key Monad concepts and features, or to showcase its flexibility and power. The purpose of this quick guide is to get readers using the technology as quickly as possible.

"As a daily user of Windows in a software development environment, I've been longing for a toolset that offers a quick and easy way to solve any problem that crops up--from moving files or doing quick data analysis to coordinating the several machines I use across the course of a day," Oakley explains. "As soon as I became aware of Monad it immediately captured my attention as the toolset I'd been waiting for."

Known formally as MSH, Monad offers many innovative features in the field of system administration and management, designed to replace a host of Windows management tools with a single unified shell for Windows Server 2003, Windows XP, and Windows Vista. Built on the .NET Framework, Monad provides a powerful infrastructure for the automation of a wide range of administrative tasks, from setting up automated build environments to managing 200 desktops in an organization.

"Monad is readily usable in its current state, and my book covers a number of different potential uses," Oakley points out. "If you're someone who finds your fingers habitually drifting toward the c-m-d keys, or if you have a background in using other shells, on Unix-like platforms, for example, this book is definitely for you. Console-based command-line interaction has come a long way and there's plenty of new stuff to see--even if you're just intrigued by this new technology."

The format is "a cross between an O'Reilly 'Hacks' book and a getting started guide that can easily be read and absorbed in a short period," Oakley says. "It offers a whistle-stop tour of the features already available in beta that can be downloaded for free from Microsoft.com." The book provides complete instructions for installing the Monad shell, a quick reference to syntax and grammar, along with standard Monad cmdlets, functions, and aliases. Other topics include:

  • Using and personalizing the interactive command shell
  • Writing Monad scripts and automating recurring operations
  • Working with Windows, including WMI, the event log, the registry, system services, and even the .NET Framework
  • Extending the basic Monad toolkit and performing everyday tasks, from manipulating files to monitoring active processes
  • "Each lab introduces a task, shows readers how to do it, and explains what happens when MSH runs the command or script used in the lab," explains Oakley. "In addition, each lab tries to answer common 'What if?' questions and offers suggestions for further reading. This book lets readers see for themselves how MSH can improve their productivity."

    While Monad is not intended to be a comprehensive volume covering every aspect of MSH or Windows system administration, the book is the perfect "pick up and go" guide that complements existing MSH documentation. Included is a forward by Jeffrey Snover, Microsoft's Monad Architect. "Monad is the future of Windows administration," Oakley contends, "but now's the time to get started."

    Additional Resources:

    Andy Oakley
    ISBN: 0-596-10009-1, 185 pages, $34.95 US
    1-800-998-9938; 1-707-827-7000

    About O’Reilly

    O’Reilly Media spreads the knowledge of innovators through its books, online services, magazines, and conferences. Since 1978, O’Reilly Media has been a chronicler and catalyst of cutting-edge development, homing in on the technology trends that really matter and spurring their adoption by amplifying “faint signals” from the alpha geeks who are creating the future. An active participant in the technology community, the company has a long history of advocacy, meme-making, and evangelism.

    Email a link to this press release