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Azure CLI vs Azure PowerShell

March 15, 2024




There are numerous options for managing Azure. This article compares the Azure CLI and Azure PowerShell languages, as well as the shell environments in which they operate.

The functionality of Azure CLI and Azure PowerShell often overlaps. Each works in a distinctive manner, and the language is sometimes confused with each other. This article will guide you through choosing the correct tool for your needs.

What is Azure Cloud Shell?

Azure Cloud Shell is a cloud-hosted shell environment that runs on an Ubuntu container hosted by Microsoft Azure.

Cloud Shell includes two shell environments: Bash (preinstalled with Azure CLI) and PowerShell (with Azure PowerShell preinstalled).

You can access the Cloud Shell environment by checking on the CMD icon when you log into your Azure portal.

You will then be offered the option to use PowerShell or Bash. If you want to manage Windows-based VMs, you should use PowerShell; if you want to manage Linux VMs, Bash is the one for you.

Both Bash and PowerShell are both powerful scripting languages. This simply means that they have already compiled code that issues commands to the OS.

A major difference between Bash is that it manipulates plain text while PowerShell manipulates objects. Obviously PowerShell is Windows based and Bash is Linux based.

Azure CLI vs Azure PowerShell

Azure CLI is a command-line tool used to manage Azure resources. PowerShell is a powerful scripting language for managing Windows-based tasks and systems. Both Azure CLI and PowerShell have similar capabilities and are popular options for managing Azure resources. There are, however, some key differences that can assist you in tailoring your management approach for each tool.

Azure CLI is generally easier to learn and use, making it an excellent choice for newcomers. PowerShell, on the other hand, is more capable of managing more complex tasks and systems. Overall, Azure CLI and PowerShell are both excellent management tools for Azure resources.

Azure CLI

  • Installable on Windows, macOS, and Linux
  • Able to run on Windows PowerShell, CMD, or Bash, as well as other Unix shells.

Azure PowerShell

  • PowerShell module that runs on Windows, macOS, and Linux.
  • Requires Windows PowerShell or PowerShell

List of Basic Command Comparison

Source: Microsoft

Sign in, Subscription, and Location Commands:

Command Azure CLI Azure PowerShell
Sign in with Web Browser az login Connect-AzAccount
Get available subscriptions az account list Get-AzSubscription
Set Subscription az account set –-subscription <SubscriptionId> Set-AzContext -Subscription <SubscriptionID>
List Azure Locations az account list-locations Get-AzLocation

Find Versions, Get Help, and View Command Help:

Command Azure CLI Azure PowerShell
Find Version az –version Get-InstalledModule -Name Az
Get Help az –help Get-Help
View Command Help az vm –help Get-Help -Name New-AzVM


When deciding which command-line tool is best for you, take into account your prior knowledge and the type of workplace you have. Azure CLI syntax is comparable to Bash scripting if you are primarily a Linux administrator. If you mostly operate in a Windows environment, PowerShell is a natural fit.

Written by Ethan

Cloud Solutions Architect. Full Stack Web Developer. Cloud Enthusiast. Gym rat. I'm a driven, detail oriented, Cloud Solution Architect based in Pittsburgh, PA. Experienced in both networking and software development cycles where I enjoy designing scalable, flexible and cost effective solutions with a focus on end user experience and business objectives. When I'm not working or at the gym I enjoy continuous learning, experimenting with new technologies and sharing what I learned to the communities.



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