PowerShell 2.0 - Enabling Remoting with Virtual XP Mode on Windows 7

UPDATE: Some general information on remoting: Hey, Scripting Guy! Tell Me About Remoting in Windows PowerShell 2.0
This also applies to machines not attached to a domain (thanks @alexandair)

If you’re running Windows 7 (and if not, why not?) you may have noticed that premium versions include a license for Virtual XP Mode. (read more at http://www.microsoft.com/windows/virtual-pc/download.aspx) Essentially it’s an integrated version of Virtual PC with a full copy of Windows XP SP2 running in it. It’s pretty nice – you can have programs from the virtualized XP instance in your Windows 7 Start Menu and they can even share your desktop.


First thing you might think as a PowerShell fan is to put PowerShell v2.0 on Virtual XP Mode so you can tinker around with PowerShell Remoting (don’t forget to install .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 first!) Unfortunately it’s not all plain sailing as a default security configuration in Virtual XP prevents the Enable-PSRemoting Cmdlet from succeeding:

PS C:\Documents and Settings\XPMUser> Enable-PSRemoting

WinRM Quick Configuration
Running command "Set-WSManQuickConfig" to enable this machine for remote management through WinRM service.
 This includes:
    1. Starting or restarting (if already started) the WinRM service
    2. Setting the WinRM service type to auto start
    3. Creating a listener to accept requests on any IP address
    4. Enabling firewall exception for WS-Management traffic (for http only).

Do you want to continue?
[Y] Yes  [A] Yes to All  [N] No  [L] No to All  [S] Suspend  [?] Help (default is "Y"):
WinRM has been updated to receive requests.
WinRM service type changed successfully.
WinRM service started.

Set-WSManQuickConfig : Access is denied. 
At line:50 char:33
+             Set-WSManQuickConfig <<<<  -force
    + CategoryInfo          : InvalidOperation: (:) [Set-WSManQuickConfig], InvalidOperationException
    + FullyQualifiedErrorId : WsManError,Microsoft.WSMan.Management.SetWSManQuickConfigCommand


Thankfully, it’s a quick fix; log into VXP and perform Start > Run… “gpedit.msc” and navigate your way to:

Computer Configuration > Windows Settings > Security Settings > Local Policies > Security Options

…and change: Network access: Sharing and security model for local accounts

…to: Classic – local users authenticate as themselves.

Now run Enable-PSRemoting again and it should work. No need to reboot!


PowerShell 2.0 goes RTM for ALL Platforms

( from: http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx/kb/968929 – downloads at foot of page )

Windows PowerShell is a command-line shell and scripting language that is designed for system administration and Automation. Built on the Microsoft .NET Framework, Windows PowerShell enables IT professionals and developers to control and automate the administration of Windows and applications.

New features that are introduced in Windows PowerShell 2.0 include the following:

  • Remoting
    Windows PowerShell 2.0 lets you run commands on one or more remote computers from a single computer that is running Windows PowerShell. PowerShell remoting allows for multiple ways of connecting. These ways include interactive (1:1), fan-out (1:many), and fan-in (many:1 by using the IIS hosting model).
  • Integrated Scripting Environment
    PowerShell Integrated Scripting Environment (ISE) enables you to run interactive commands and edit and debug scripts in a graphical environment. The main features include color-coded syntax, selective execution, graphical debugging, Unicode support, and context-sensitive help.
  • Modules
    Modules allow for script developers and administrators to partition and organize their Windows PowerShell code in self-contained, reusable units. Code from a module executes in its own self-contained context and does not affect the state outside the module.
  • Advanced functions
    Advanced functions are functions that have the same capabilities and behavior as cmdlets. However, they are written completely in the Windows PowerShell language, instead of compiled C#.
  • Background jobs
    Windows PowerShell 2.0 allows for running a command or expression asynchronously and "in the background" without interacting with the console.
  • Eventing
    This feature adds support to the Windows PowerShell engine infrastructure for listening, forwarding, and acting on management and system events.
  • Script internationalization
    This new feature enables Windows PowerShell scripts to display messages in the spoken language that is specified by the UI culture setting on the user's computer.
  • Script debugging
    New debugging features were added to Windows PowerShell that let you set breakpoints on lines, columns, variables, and commands, and that let you specify the action that occurs when the breakpoint is hit.
  • New cmdlets
    Windows PowerShell 2.0 introduces over 100 built-in cmdlets. These cmdlets, excluding other tasks, enables you to do computer-related, event log, and performance counter management tasks.

WinRM 2.0

WinRM is the Microsoft implementation of WS-Management Protocol, a standard Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP)–based, firewall-friendly protocol that allows for hardware and operating systems from different vendors to interoperate. The WS-Management Protocol specification provides a common way for systems to access and exchange management information across an IT infrastructure.

WinRM 2.0 includes the following new features:

  • The WinRM Client Shell API provides functionality to create and manage shells and shell operations, commands, and data streams on remote computers.
  • The WinRM Plug-in API provides functionality that enables a user to write plug-ins by implementing certain APIs for supported resources and operations.
  • WinRM 2.0 introduces a hosting framework. Two hosting models are supported. One is Internet Information Services (IIS)-based and the other is WinRM service-based.
  • Association traversal lets a user retrieve instances of Association classes by using a standard filtering mechanism.
  • WinRM 2.0 supports delegating user credentials across multiple remote computers.
  • Users of WinRM 2.0 can use Windows PowerShell cmdlets for system management.
  • WinRM has added a specific set of quotas that provide a better quality of service and allocate server resources to concurrent users. The WinRM quota set is based on the quota infrastructure that is implemented for the IIS service.

System requirements

WinRM 2.0 and PowerShell 2.0 can be installed on the following supported operating systems:

  • Windows Server 2008 with Service Pack 2
  • Windows Server 2003 with Service Pack 2
  • Windows Vista with Service Pack 2
  • Windows Vista with Service Pack 1
  • Windows XP with Service Pack 3
Windows PowerShell 2.0 requires the Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0 with Service Pack 1.

BITS 4.0

BITS 4.0 can be installed on the following supported operating systems:
  • Windows Server 2008 with Service Pack 2
  • Windows Vista with Service Pack 2
  • Windows Vista with Service Pack 1

PowerShell 2.0 - Module Initializers

You might not know it, but when you import a PowerShell module you can pass it one or more arguments by way of Import-Module's -ArgumentList (aliased to -Args) parameter. While it looks like passing parameters to a standard ps1 file, there are some limitations. Take this module for an example:

# -- begin foo.psm1 --
. {
     function Get-Letter {
        "You initialized the module with $letter"
} @args
# -- end foo.psm1

ps> import-module foo -args b
ps> get-letter
"You initialized the module with b"

You might notice that I am dotting (dot-sourcing or dot-executing) the scriptblock. By doing this, you are ensuring that anything declared in the scriptblock is imported into the calling scope. You can also apply advanced-function style validation to the module initializer by splatting (@) the module arguments ($args). If the scriptblock was called instead (via & { ... } @args) then the nested scope created from the call (&) operator prevents the function Get-Letter from being exported from the module because it goes out of scope when the called scriptblock completes. So, why not put the param block at the top of the module where param() is now you might ask? Because that mechanism is broken and/or partially implemented in v2, and completely ignores [cmdletbinding()] directives and validators. Note also that there is no way to use switches in the traditional sense with module arguments; instead you can pass boolean literals like $true or $false which will be mapped positionally to any declared switches.

So where might you use this technique of module initializers? You could create a generalized custom module that works with your various development environments, or SQL clusters/servers. You pass the name of the environment (or server) to the module on import, and all of the functions exported then are "bound" to that cluster (or server) so you don't have to continually pass each function the cluster (or server) name as an argument.

Have fun!

PowerShell 2.0 – Getting and setting text to and from the clipboard

Updated: now use a temporary file to set text to avoid overflowing command-line buffer

The Windows Clipboard – accessible via System.Windows.Forms.Clipboard – requires an STA thread to read/write to it. By default, the console version of PowerShell 2.0 (i.e. not ISE) starts in MTA mode. This means that read/writing via this class is unreliable. Rather than always starting up console PowerShell in STA mode via the –STA flag, you can use this flag in a sneakier way to get what you want:

function Set-ClipboardText {

        # need to use temp file to avoid exceeding command-line length limit
        $temp = [io.path]::GetTempFileName()

        try {
            set-content -Path $temp -Value $text

            $command = {
                    add-type -an system.windows.forms
                    [System.Windows.Forms.Clipboard]::SetText((get-content $args))
            powershell -sta -noprofile -command $command -args $temp

        } finally {
            if ((test-path $temp)) {
                remove-item $temp

function Get-ClipboardText {
        $command = {
                add-type -an system.windows.forms
        powershell -sta -noprofile -command $command

Essentially we are running PowerShell as a child process temporarily in STA mode, skipping loading the profile and executing a scriptblock.

PowerShell 2.0 – Asynchronous Callbacks from .NET

Asynchronous callback delegates are not a friend to PowerShell. They are serviced by the .NET threadpool which means that if they point to script blocks, there will be no Runspace available to execute them. Runspaces are thread-local resources in the PowerShell threadpool. The .NET threadpool, operating independently, is not too interested in coordinating callbacks with PowerShell. So what do we do?

There is one feature of PowerShell 2.0 that is capable of running scriptblocks in a pseudo-asynchronous manner: Eventing. Any events bound to with Register-ObjectEvent, EngineEvent or WmIEvent can have associated scriptblocks that will get executed when the associated event is raised. So, if we can somehow convert an asynchronous callback to a .NET event then we can run scriptblocks in response to Async .NET Callbacks. I’ve written a simple function called New-ScriptBlockCallback that helps us do exactly that:

#requires -version 2.0

function New-ScriptBlockCallback {
        Allows running ScriptBlocks via .NET async callbacks.

        Allows running ScriptBlocks via .NET async callbacks. Internally this is
        managed by converting .NET async callbacks into .NET events. This enables
        PowerShell 2.0 to run ScriptBlocks indirectly through Register-ObjectEvent.         

    .PARAMETER Callback
        Specify a ScriptBlock to be executed in response to the callback.
        Because the ScriptBlock is executed by the eventing subsystem, it only has
        access to global scope. Any additional arguments to this function will be
        passed as event MessageData.
        You wish to run a scriptblock in reponse to a callback. Here is the .NET
        method signature:
        void Bar(AsyncCallback handler, int blah)
        ps> [foo]::bar((New-ScriptBlockCallback { ... }), 42)                        

        A System.AsyncCallback delegate.
    # is this type already defined?    
    if (-not ("CallbackEventBridge" -as [type])) {
        Add-Type @"
            using System;
            public sealed class CallbackEventBridge
                public event AsyncCallback CallbackComplete = delegate { };

                private CallbackEventBridge() {}

                private void CallbackInternal(IAsyncResult result)

                public AsyncCallback Callback
                    get { return new AsyncCallback(CallbackInternal); }

                public static CallbackEventBridge Create()
                    return new CallbackEventBridge();
    $bridge = [callbackeventbridge]::create()
    Register-ObjectEvent -input $bridge -EventName callbackcomplete -action $callback -messagedata $args > $null

PowerShell – Function Parameters & .NET Attributes

ArgumentTransformationAttributes are attached to function parameters. They intercept the value coming in and optionally transform it before it is assigned to the target parameter. This is how the powershell type system is enforced:

function Foo ( [string]$str ) { ... }
(gi function:foo).parameters.str.attributes

This type converter derives from ArgumentTransformationAttribute. It uses the public utility type [Management.Automation.LanguagePrimitives] (which is full of cool stuff btw) to coerce incoming types to the designated type constraint, in this case [string].

As an aside, you can use the credential attribute on a function parameter too:

function do-something ([system.management.automation.credential()]$cred) { $cred }
do-something # get-credential dialog pops up if $cred is not explicitly passed

And while a little strange but definitely empowering from a future extensibility point of view, you can decorate parameters with entirely inappropriate attributes:

function Foo ( [obsolete($true)][string]$bar ) { ... }

System.ObsoleteAttribute is used in C#/VB.NET to tell the compiler that usage of the decorated item should raise a warning (false) or error (true)

About the author

Irish, PowerShell MVP, .NET/ASP.NET/SharePoint Developer, Budding Architect. Developer. Montrealer. Opinionated. Montreal, Quebec.

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