VMware Inc. has taken aim at the Windows market with a new tool that allows administrators of virtualized Windows infrastructures to automate tasks via PowerShell, Microsoft's command line interface shell and associated scripting language.

VMware Infrastructure (VI) Toolkit (for Windows) made its debut this week in a beta-test form, with a full release scheduled for the second half of this year. It is the Windows equivalent to a Perl-based VI Toolkit popular with Linux admins.

The tool could make life significantly easier for administrators of Windows infrastructures, VMware said, automating snapshots, long-running tasks such as cloning, disconnecting connected CD-ROM drives, moving large numbers of virtual machines, or reporting and monitoring from across an entire virtual infrastructure.

The beta includes 102 PowerShell cmdlets -- which are specialized .Net classes implementing a particular operation -- and allows admins to write their own scripts, VMware said.

VMware has also unveiled a community Web site associated with the project that it hopes testers will use and add to as a resource.

VMware has popularized server virtualization over the past few years, and largely controls the market, but has faced growing competition from companies such as Microsoft, XenSource (now part of Citrix) and Parallels.