Command Prompt vs PowerShell vs Windows Terminal: Unveiling the Differences

In the world of Windows operating systems, there are three powerful tools at your disposal: Command Prompt (CMD), PowerShell, and Windows Terminal. While they all serve similar purposes, each tool has its unique features and capabilities. So, let's dive deep into the world of these command-line tools and understand how they differ from each other.

Command Prompt: The OG Tool

Command Prompt, also known as CMD, has been a part of Windows since its early days. It was originally launched as with Windows 95 and 98, and later officially released with Windows NT. CMD allows users to interact with the file system, run system commands, and troubleshoot various errors. It has been widely used by system administrators for tasks like disk management, directory file viewing, and fixing corrupt files.

PowerShell: Taking Command Prompt to the Next Level

PowerShell, introduced in 2006 with Windows XP, is the evolution of Command Prompt. It is backward compatible with CMD, meaning you can perform all CMD tasks using PowerShell. However, PowerShell brings much more to the table. It can run complex commands, automate administrative tasks, execute commands remotely, and even run C# programming language with integration to the .NET Framework. PowerShell allows administrators to control and manage a network of computers within an organization, making it a powerful tool for system management.

Windows Terminal: The Ultimate Command-Line Interface

Windows Terminal is the newest addition to the Windows command-line tools family. It is an open-source project available on GitHub. Windows Terminal takes inspiration from popular terminal emulators and shell interfaces like Terminator. It supports Command Prompt, PowerShell, and even Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL). This means you can now use BASH, a shell previously restricted to Linux OS, within Windows Terminal. With its tabbed interface, you can open multiple tabs and work on different projects or tasks simultaneously, enabling efficient multitasking. Windows Terminal also offers extensive customization options, allowing you to create profiles with different settings for different shells, terminals, and SSH tunnels.

Interface: From Basic to Beautiful

When it comes to the user interface, Command Prompt has a simple and basic look, reminiscent of the early 2000s. It features a black background with white fonts, where you can enter commands.

PowerShell takes things a step further by applying colors to its output, making it easier to interpret. For example, snippets of text are displayed in yellow, while errors are highlighted in red.

Windows Terminal elevates the UI experience with its tabbed interface. You can open multiple tabs and switch between different command-line environments effortlessly. It also offers a wide range of customization options, including color schemes and font settings. You can even create profiles with different settings for CMD, PowerShell, and SSH tunnels.

Where to Use Each Tool

Command Prompt is commonly used for system administration tasks, such as disk management and troubleshooting. It is ideal for users who prefer a straightforward and familiar command-line experience.

PowerShell, on the other hand, is a more advanced tool that combines the functionalities of CMD with shell scripting capabilities. It is widely used by system administrators to automate tasks, manage networks, and execute complex commands.

Windows Terminal is the ultimate command-line interface that brings together the best of Command Prompt, PowerShell, and even Linux shells. It is especially useful for developers and enthusiasts who work with multiple command-line environments and need a robust and customizable interface.


In conclusion, while Command Prompt, PowerShell, and Windows Terminal serve similar purposes, each has its own unique set of features and capabilities. Command Prompt is reliable and straightforward, PowerShell adds scripting capabilities and automation, and Windows Terminal brings together multiple command-line environments in a customizable interface. Depending on your needs and preferences, you can choose the tool that best suits your requirements. So, embrace the power of command-line tools and unleash your productivity with Windows Terminal, PowerShell, or good old Command Prompt.