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Windows Script Host

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Windows Script Host (WSH)
Other namesWindows Scripting Host
Stable release
Operating systemMicrosoft Windows
TypeAutomation technology
LicenseProprietary commercial software
WebsiteWindows Script Host overview

The Microsoft Windows Script Host (WSH) (formerly named Windows Scripting Host) is an automation technology for Microsoft Windows operating systems that provides scripting abilities comparable to batch files, but with a wider range of supported features. This tool was first provided on Windows 95 after Build 950a on the installation discs as an optional installation configurable and installable by means of the Control Panel, and then a standard component of Windows 98 (Build 1111) and subsequent and Windows NT 4.0 Build 1381 and by means of Service Pack 4. The WSH is also a means of automation for Internet Explorer via the installed WSH engines from IE Version 3.0 onwards; at this time VBScript became means of automation for Microsoft Outlook 97.[1] The WSH is also an optional install provided with a VBScript and JScript engine for Windows CE 3.0 and following and some third-party engines including Rexx and other forms of Basic are also available.[2][3][4]

It is language-independent in that it can make use of different Active Scripting language engines. By default, it interprets and runs plain-text JScript (.JS and .JSE files) and VBScript (.VBS and .VBE files).

Users can install different scripting engines to enable them to script in other languages, for instance PerlScript. The language independent filename extension WSF can also be used. The advantage of the Windows Script File (.WSF) is that it allows multiple scripts ("jobs") as well as a combination of scripting languages within a single file.

WSH engines include various implementations for the Rexx, BASIC, Perl, Ruby, Tcl, PHP, JavaScript, Delphi, Python, XSLT, and other languages.

Windows Script Host is distributed and installed by default on Windows 98 and later versions of Windows. It is also installed if Internet Explorer 5 (or a later version) is installed. Beginning with Windows 2000, the Windows Script Host became available for use with user login scripts.


Windows Script Host may be used for a variety of purposes, including logon scripts, administration and general automation. Microsoft describes it as an administration tool.[5] WSH provides an environment for scripts to run – it invokes the appropriate script engine and provides a set of services and objects for the script to work with.[5] These scripts may be run in GUI mode (WScript.exe) or command line mode (CScript.exe), or from a COM object (wshom.ocx), offering flexibility to the user for interactive or non-interactive scripts.[6] Windows Management Instrumentation is also scriptable by this means.

The WSH, the engines, and related functionality are also listed as objects which can be accessed and scripted and queried by means of the VBA and Visual Studio object explorers and those for similar tools like the various script debuggers, e.g. Microsoft Script Debugger, and editors.

WSH implements an object model which exposes a set of Component Object Model (COM) interfaces.[7] So in addition to ASP, IIS, Internet Explorer, CScript and WScript, the WSH can be used to automate and communicate with any Windows application with COM and other exposed objects, such as using PerlScript to query Microsoft Access by various means including various ODBC engines and SQL, ooRexxScript to create what are in effect Rexx macros in Microsoft Excel, Quattro Pro, Microsoft Word, Lotus Notes and any of the like, the XLNT script to get environment variables and print them in a new TextPad document, and so on.

The VBA functionality of Microsoft Office, Open Office (as well as Python and other installable macro languages) and Corel WordPerfect Office is separate from WSH engines although Outlook 97 uses VBScript rather than VBA as its macro language.[8]

Python in the form of ActiveState PythonScript can be used to automate and query the data in SecureCRT, as with other languages with installed engines, e.g. PerlScript, ooRexxScript, PHPScript, RubyScript, LuaScript, XLNT and so on. One notable exception is Paint Shop Pro, which can be automated in Python by means of a macro interpreter within the PSP programme itself rather than using the PythonScript WSH engine or an external Python implementation such as Python interpreters supplied with Unix emulation and integration software suites or other standalone Python implementations et al.[9][10] as an intermediate and indeed can be programmed like this even in the absence of any third-party Python installation; the same goes for the Rexx-programmable terminal emulator Passport.[11] The SecureCRT terminal emulator, SecureFX FTP client, and related client and server programmes from Van Dyke are as of the current versions automated by means of the WSH so any language with an installed engine may be used; the software comes with VBScript, JScript, and PerlScript examples.

As of the most recent releases and going back a number of versions now, the programmability of 4NT / Take Command in the latest implementations (by means of "@REXX" and similar for Perl, Python, Tcl, Ruby, Lua, VBScript, JScript and the like and so on) generally uses the WSH engine.[12] The ZOC terminal emulator gets its ability to be programmed in Rexx by means of an external interpreter, one of which is supplied with the programme, and alternate Rexx interpreters can be specified in the configuration of the programme.[13][14] The MKS Toolkit provides PScript, a WSH engine in addition to the standard Perl interpreter perl.exe which comes with the package.

VBScript, JScript, and some third-party engines have the ability to create and execute scripts in an encoded format which prevents editing with a text editor; the file extensions for these encoded scripts is .vbe and .jse and others of that type.

Unless otherwise specified, any WSH scripting engine can be used with the various Windows server software packages to provide CGI scripting. The current versions of the default WSH engines and all or most of the third party engines have socket abilities as well; as a CGI script or otherwise, PerlScript is the choice of many programmers for this purpose and the VBScript and various Rexx-based engines are also rated as sufficiently powerful in connectivity and text-processing abilities to also be useful. This also goes for file access and processing—the earliest WSH engines for VBScript and JScript do not since the base language did not,[15] whilst PerlScript, ooRexxScript, and the others have this from the beginning.

WinWrap Basic, SaxBasic and others are similar to Visual Basic for Applications, These tools are used to add scripting and macro abilities to software being developed and can be found in earlier versions of Host Explorer for example. Many other languages can also be used in this fashion. Other languages used for scripting of programmes include Rexx, Tcl, Perl, Python, Ruby, and others which come with methods to control objects in the operating system and the spreadsheet and database programmes.[16] One exception is that the Zoc terminal emulator is controlled by a Rexx interpreter supplied with the package or another interpreter specified by the user; this is also the case with the Passport emulator.

VBScript is the macro language in Microsoft Outlook 97, whilst WordBasic is used for Word up to 6, Powerpoint and other tools. Excel to 5.0 uses Visual Basic 5.0. In Office 2000 forward, true Visual Basic for Applications 6.0 is used for all components. Other components use Visual Basic for Applications. OpenOffice uses Visual Basic, Python, and several others as macro languages and others can be added. LotusScript is very closely related to VBA and used for Lotus Notes and Lotus SmartSuite, which includes Lotus Word Pro (the current descendant of Ami Pro), Lotus Approach, Lotus FastSite, Lotus 1-2-3, &c, and pure VBA, licensed from Microsoft, is used in Corel products such as WordPerfect, Paradox, Quattro Pro &c.

Any scripting language installed under Windows can be accessed by external means of PerlScript, PythonScript, VBScript and the other engines available can be used to access databases (Lotus Notes, Microsoft Access, Oracle Database, Paradox) and spreadsheets (Microsoft Excel, Lotus 1-2-3, Quattro Pro) and other tools like word processors, terminal emulators, command shells and so on. This can be accomplished by means of the WSH, so any language can be used if there is an installed engine.

In recent versions of the Take Command enhanced command prompt and tools, the "script" command typed at the shell prompt will produce a list of the currently installed engines, one to a line and therefore CR-LF delimited.[17][18][19]


The first example is very simple; it shows some VBScript which uses the root WSH COM object "WScript" to display a message with an 'OK' button. Upon launching this script the CScript or WScript engine would be called and the runtime environment provided.

Content of a file hello0.vbs

WScript.Echo "Hello world"

WSH programming can also use the JScript language.

Content of a file hello1.js

WSH.Echo("Hello world");

Or, code can be mixed in one WSF file, such as VBScript and JScript, or any other:

Content of a file hello2.wsf

<script language="VBScript">
  MsgBox "hello world (from vb)"
<script language="JScript">
  WSH.echo("hello world (from js)");

Security concerns[edit]

Windows applications and processes may be automated using a script in Windows Script Host. Viruses and malware could be written to exploit this ability. Thus, some suggest disabling it for security reasons.[20] Alternatively, antivirus programs may offer features to control .vbs and other scripts which run in the WSH environment.

Since version 5.6 of WSH, scripts can be digitally signed programmatically using the Scripting.Signer object in a script itself, provided a valid certificate is present on the system. Alternatively, the signcode tool from the Platform SDK, which has been extended to support WSH filetypes, may be used at the command line.[21]

By using Software Restriction Policies introduced with Windows XP, a system may be configured to execute only those scripts which are stored in trusted locations, have a known MD5 hash, or have been digitally signed by a trusted publisher, thus preventing the execution of untrusted scripts.[22]

Available scripting engines[edit]

Note: By definition, all of these scripting engines can be utilised in CGI programming under Windows with any number of programmes and set up, meaning that the source code files for a script used on a server for CGI purposes could bear other file extensions such as .cgi and so on. The aforementioned ability of the Windows Script Host to run a script with multiple languages in it in files with a .wsh extension. Extended Html and XML also add to the additional possibilities when working with scripts for network use, as do Active Server Pages and so forth. Moreover, Windows shell scripts and scripts written in shells with enhanced capabilities like TCC, 4NT, etc. and Unix shells under interoperability software like the MKS Toolkit can have scripts embedded in them as well.

Engine name Scripting language implemented Base language File extensions Availability Produced by Status Initial release date Encoded scripts Notes
VBScript Microsoft VBScript Microsoft Visual Basic .vbs Installed by default Microsoft default install 1999 Yes, .vbe Default windows host script
JScript Microsoft JScript ECMAScript .js Installed by default Microsoft default install 1999 Yes, .jse Default java script host
WinWrap Basic WinWrap Basic Basic .wwb In the main WWB installation Polar Engineering Standard functionality of WWB; Utilises both .NET and COM 2004 Yes
PerlScript Perl Perl 5 .pls with ActiveState Perl ActiveState Open source 1999 Reportedly yes
PScript Perl Perl 5, CGI functionality .p, .ps with MKS Toolkit MKS Commercial 2001
XBScript xBase Scripting Engine xBase (Clipper) .xbs, .prg Clipper with XBScript sofrware Commercial
LotusScript WSH LotusScript Microsoft Visual Basic (q.v.) .nsf Third party download Service Desk Plus Freeware 2001
RexxScript Rexx Rexx .rxs, .rx, .rex With some Rexx implementations Various Freeware 1998
ooRexxScript Open Object REXX REXX .rxs with Open Object Rexx or free from some third parties Open Object Rexx team Open source
PythonScript Python Python .pys SourceForge & with ActivePython The Pywin32 project Open source
TclScript Tcl/Tk Tcl/Tk .tcls SourceForge ActiveState or third party Open source
ActivePHPScript PHP PHP .phps with PHP PHP team Open source
PHPScript PHP PHP .phps with PHP PHP team Open source Earlier version of ActivePHPScript
RubyScript Ruby Ruby .rbs with Ruby distribution Ruby team Open source Yes
XLNTScript XLNT DCL .xcs with XLNT Advanced Systems Concepts, Inc. Commercial 1997 An OpenVMS DCL-based multi-purpose scripting application for Windows
LuaScript Lua Lua .lua with Lua Lua organisation Open Source
Object REXX engine Object REXX Rexx .rex, .rxs with IBM Object REXX IBM Commercial 2002
XML Engine XML parsing Extended HTML, XML .xml with many XML implementations Elf Data de facto Default install 2000 Macintosh too
Kixtart WSH Engine Kixtart KixTart, MS-DOS, Windows 95. Windows NT shells .kix with KixStart Microsoft Netherlands Windows Resource Kits and other resources 1996 Download from Microsoft or elsewhere, aka KixStart32
NullScript NullScript Null language .ns with NullScript NullScript Organisation Windows Resource Kits and other resources 1999
ForthScript Forth Forth .fth, others Forth DMOZ Open Source
Haskell Script Haskell Haskell *.hsk (provisional), others free download Open Source
XSLT WSH Engine XSLT XSLT .xslt free download Open Source
CobolScript WSH Engine Cobol Cobol .cbl. .cob, .cb Fujitsu Cobol 3 -- free for educational use Commercialware from Fujitsu free with free compiler for educators &c Proprietary
Delphi scripting engine Delphi Delphi, a Pascal variant .dlp, .del, . In some Delphi distributions or resource kits Commercial 2003
DMDScript DMDScript D, a major incrementation of C .dmd DMD Distributions, download Freeware Available on Web 2014 DMD
C# Script C# Microsoft C#.NET .cs. .c#, others Source code available Open Source, active development underway unclear 2013
Small C Scripting Engine C C (K&R, Ansi) .c, others Various locations, check Web Freeware 2009
JavaScript WSH Engine JavaScript/Java Java & variants .java, .j, jva, others With many JavaScript implementations Sun/Other Java Organisations Freeware
Take Command WSH Engine 4NT/Take Command TCC, the current version of 4NT p .btm, .cmd, bat, others Check JP Software JP Software Proprietary 2015 Early development
92Script WSH Engine TI-89/92+/Voyager 200 TI-Basic Calculator TI-Basic .92bs Project Web/FTP site Various independent programmers Experimental, Open Source 2014 "possible" Beta Q4 2015 for main engine; graphing functionality (92Script/Tk) then or later
48Script WSH Engine HP-48 Calculator family on-board programming language HP 48 Programming Language, distant relative of Forth, Basic, Lisp .48s Project Web/FTP site Various independent programmers Experimental 2015 Planned Status as of 2015-09-30. Language has Lisp, Basic, Forth, and other influences.
Fortran Script Fortran Fortran 77 .for, .ftn. f77, f90, f95 Various Various Experimental proof-of-concept, academic exercise, shareware, commercial, open source. 2000
PascalScript Object Pascal Pascal 7 .pas, .ops, other Object Pascal RemObjects Freeware 2001 Can also be used with Delphi directly
Lisp WSH Engine Lisp Lisp .lisp, .lsp Various Lisp tools AutoLisp and others Freeware or Shareware
BESEN ECMA-JavaScript Java and Variants .bes, .bsn, others SourceForge BESEN Organisation Open Source 2011
ECMAScript WSH engines Java and Variants Various Various Various Various Experimental, Freeware, Open Source, Shareware, Proprietary, Commercialware 2005 There are numerous ECMAScript implementations but not all have WSH engines
CFXScript WSH Engine Casio CFX-9850 and fx Calculator series on-board programming language Casio Calculator Programming Language, as ported to various operating systems as CFW .cfxb Project Web/FTP Sites independent programmers Experimental 2015 Planned[23] Status as of 2015-09-30. Language has elements of Basic, Forth, Fortran, and others.
SharpCalcScript WSH Engine Sharp graphing calculators on-board programming language Sharp S-Basic as ported to windows as NeusSFortran .scsb Project Web/FTP Sites independent programmers Experimental 2015 Planned Status as of 2015-09-30. Also subsumes the S-Basic language of Sharp's Pocket Computers.

There have been suggestions of creating engines for other languages, such as LotusScript, SaxBasic, BasicScript, KiXtart, awk, bash, csh and other Unix shells, 4NT, cmd.exe (the Windows NT shell), Windows PowerShell, DCL, C, C++, Fortran and others.[24] The XLNT language[25] is based on DCL and provides a very large subset of the language along with additional commands and statements and the software can be used in three ways: the WSH engine (*.xcs), the console interpreter (*.xlnt) and as a server and client side CGI engine (*.xgi).[26]

When a server implementing CGI such as the Windows Internet Information Server, ports of Apache and others, all or most of the engines can be used; the most commonly used are VBScript, JScript, PythonScript, PerlScript, ActivePHPScript, and ooRexxScript. The MKS Toolkit PScript program also runs Perl. Command shells like cmd.exe, 4NT, ksh, and scripting languages with string processing and preferably socket functionality are also able to be used for CGI scripting; compiled languages like C++, Visual Basic, and Java can also be used like this. All Perl interpreters, ooRexx, PHP, and more recent versions of VBScript and JScript can use sockets for TCP/IP and usually UDP and other protocols for this.

Version history[edit]

Windows version Shipped with WSH version Last redistributable version
Windows 95 None (separate redistributable) 5.6
Windows NT 4.0 None (separate redistributable) 5.6
Windows CE 3.0 1.0 (optional install on installer disc) 2.0
Windows 98 1.0 5.6
Windows 98 Second Edition 1.0 5.6
Windows 2000 2.0 (also termed WSH 5.1) 5.7
Windows 2000 SP3, SP4 and SP5 5.6 5.7
Windows Me 2.0 (also termed WSH 5.1) 5.6
Windows XP 5.6 5.7
Windows XP SP3 5.7 Not applicable
Windows Server 2003 5.6 5.7
Windows Vista 5.7 Not applicable
Windows Server 2008 5.7 Not applicable
Windows 7 5.8 Not applicable
Windows Server 2008 R2 5.8 Not applicable
Windows 8 5.8 Not applicable
Windows Server 2012 5.8 Not applicable
Windows 10 5.812 Not applicable
Windows Server 2016 5.812 Not applicable

The redistributable version of WSH version 5.6 can be installed on Windows 95/98/Me and Windows NT 4.0/2000. WSH 5.7 is downloadable for Windows 2000, Windows XP and Windows Server 2003. Recently [when?], redistributable versions for older operating systems (Windows 9x and Windows NT 4.0) are no longer available from the Microsoft Download Center.

Since Windows XP Service Pack 3, release 5.7 is the only version available from Microsoft, with newer revisions being included in newer versions of Windows since.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ ?MSDN, "Windows Scripting Host" and "VBScript"
  2. ^ MSDN April 2000 edition, "Windows Scripting Host"
  3. ^ The VBScript Bible (1999)
  4. ^ Windows 2000 Server Resource Kit (documentation
  5. ^ a b "What Is WSH?". msdn.microsoft.com. 24 October 2011. Archived from the original on 7 January 2018. Retrieved 30 April 2018.
  6. ^ "Windows Script Host Basics". msdn.microsoft.com. 24 October 2011. Archived from the original on 8 August 2017. Retrieved 30 April 2018.
  7. ^ "Windows Script Host Object Model". msdn.microsoft.com. 24 October 2011. Archived from the original on 8 August 2017. Retrieved 30 April 2018.
  8. ^ MSDN "VBA"
  9. ^ User's Manual, Paint Shop Pro 8
  10. ^ Paint Shop Pro 8 help, "Automation"
  11. ^ main help file, Passport for Windows
  12. ^ Take Command documentation 18.00 documentation hard copy and Help file
  13. ^ Zoc v 6.0 help
  14. ^ Zoc 5.0 printed manual
  15. ^ MSDN documentation
  16. ^ Windows Office 97 & 2000 Bibles (Wiley)
  17. ^ Take Command version 18.00 documentation
  18. ^ JP Software Take Command-4NT-4Dos-4OS/2 site, bulletin board
  19. ^ Take Command 18.00 help
  20. ^ "Norman - Antivirus & Security Software for Home & Business". AVG.com. Archived from the original on 21 February 2006. Retrieved 30 April 2018.
  21. ^ LLC), Tara Meyer (Aquent (30 June 2006). "Providing a Secure eXPerience". msdn.microsoft.com. Archived from the original on 10 November 2017. Retrieved 30 April 2018.
  22. ^ Windows Script Host 5.6 Boasts Windows XP Integration, Security, New Object Model Archived 2008-02-18 at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ CasioCalc.com, msgs of 15.09.2016
  24. ^ "Notes/Domino 4 and 5 Forum : RE: Suggestion: Make LotusScript a script engine for Windows Scripting Host". Archived from the original on 2015-03-21. Retrieved 2015-03-12.
  25. ^ ASCI html help file
  26. ^ ASCI site