First published on TECHNET on Apr 18, 2008

We’ve covered different pieces of WMI in previous posts, but we have yet to discuss the Windows Management Instrumentation Command-Line (WMIC) in detail.  The WMIC provides administrators easy access to the WMI infrastructure.  Prior to the WMIC, you could only access the management infrastructure via the providers or an API.  Since the ultimate goal of WMI is to make life easier for system and application administrators, this obviously presented a problem.

The WMIC environment allows interactive queries or scripting.  It is interoperable with existing shell and utility commands and can be extended by scripts and other administration-oriented applications.  WMIC is included with Windows XP and later operating systems.  However, since WMIC works locally and remotely, it is possible to run WMIC commands against Windows 2000 systems remotely so long as the particular action is supported by WMI on the target machine.  Beyond the ability to use WMIC against local and remote systems, there are other significant benefits:

  • WMIC leverages existing OS WMI providers and can leverage additional providers that are added to the system
  • WMIC can generate output in multiple formats such as .TXT, .CSV, .HTML and .XML
  • WMIC has very powerful functionality natively available, however it is an extensible tool

So that should be enough of the marketing fluff around WMIC.  How exactly do you use it?  There are two modes of use for WMIC – Interactive or Scripting.  In Interactive mode, WMIC provides and ‘environment’ for scripting.  The environment allows you to enter commands and view the results in the immediate display – just like the standard command line interface you are accustomed to.  The Interactive environment also allows the use of the discoverable help which is context sensitive.  In the screenshots below, you can see the WMIC Interactive environment, which is launched by running WMIC from a command prompt, followed by examples of the help features:

So now let’s look at WMIC in action in Interactive mode.  In these examples, I am going to get information about two systems – the local and the remote.  There is  a command set to retrieve Operating System information as shown below:

So I know that I can probably use the OS GET command, but what data can I retrieve?  Let’s look at the context sensitive help:

That’s quite an exhaustive list.  I think I want to get the following information about my systems – Name of the system, what OS is installed and the build number:

By the way, those are not misspellings in the output – the symbols for ® and ™ don’t really translate into command line output.  So, this format is fairly readable, but if we were to add more properties, the output could become very confusing.  Enter the /format switch.  In this case, rather than the default table format, I want to see this information in list format:

Pretty easy, right?  So now let’s run the same command for a remote machine:

As you can see, we specify the name of the remote system with the /NODE switch.  If the value being passed has special characters such as a hyphen or a slash, you need to enclose the switch value in double quotes.  Also remember that you will need to create an exception on your system to allow WMI to be accessed remotely in the Windows firewall, or whatever local firewall you may be using.

So those are some basic information gathering pieces – but what about if we want to actually do something on the system – for example, launch an executable, such as the Calculator?  There is a command set called PROCESS that can be used to do just that:

And there we have our Calculator application launched, including the Process ID for CALC.EXE

As you can see, WMIC is very powerful – and that’s in Interactive mode where we have to enter one command at a time.  WMIC commands can also be run from scripts – let’s take a look at a fairly simple example to capture the same information that I captured in Interactive mode about my secondary system – BANGANALYZE-380.  I created a simple batch file called WMIC_Test.bat with a single command, as shown below:

wmic /node:"BANGANALYZE-380" /output:"c:\users\cchameed\documents\file1.htm" os get csname, name,buildnumber /format:hform

As you can see, I am redirecting the output to a .htm file and using a slightly different format.  The output of the file when viewed in a web browser, looks like this:

In this post, we have barely scratched the surface of what you can do with WMIC.  The resources below should help to get you on your way to truly leveraging the power of WMIC.  Until next time …

Additional Resources:

- CC Hameed

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