The Azure CLI is the cross-platform, command-line tool for managing resources in Microsoft Azure. Microsoft recently released the Azure CLI 2.0 and the commands start with “az” instead of “azure” like Azure CLI 1.0. This article runs through the main differences between Azure CLI 1.0 and Azure CLI 2.0 to help you understand how to use each one.

Installation and Platform

When the Azure CLI 1.0 was first released it was call the X-Plat CLI, and offered a new cross-platform command-line tool to use for Azure automation tasks. It offered an alternative to the Azure PowerShell cmdlets that gave a command-line tool for use on macOS and Linux, in addition to Windows. In the early days it was built on top of the Azure Service Management API’s, and has since been migrated over to support the newer Azure Resource Management API’s.

The new Azure CLI 2.0 was built with Azure Resource Management (ARM) from the start. It was also built with the lessons learned from 1.0 in mind to make 2.0 a better cross-platform, command-line tool. The development platform and language used to build the Azure CLI 2.0 was changed, and the commands essentially changed a bit in the process. It’s really not an “in-place” migration, and requires you to understand a little more than to just install the new version.

The Azure CLI 1.0 was written with Node.js to achieve cross-platform capabilities, and the new Azure CLI 2.0 is written in Python to offer better cross-platform capabilities. Both are Open Source and available on Github.

Azure CLI 2.0 is written in Python, Azure CLI was written in JavaScript. Both are Open Source!

Here’s the platform differences between the 2 version of the Azure CLI along with links where you can find the Open Source repository for each:

Azure CLI 1.0

Azure CLI 2.0

Azure CLI Installation

Since the Azure CLI is cross-platform it can be installed on Windows, macOS, and Linux. This is true for both the Azure CLI 1.0 and Azure CLI 2.0. Since the Azure CLI 1.0 is written with Node.js, it will require Node.js to be installed on your machine. While the Azure CLI 2.0 is written in Python, and requires Python.

Azure CLI 1.0 Installation

Here’s commands to install Azure CLI 1.0 at the command-line using Node.js:

sudo npm install -g azure-cli

Use a Docker Container to run the Azure CLI 1.0:

docker run -it microsoft/azure-cli

You can also use an installer with Windows and macOS to install the Azure CLI 1.0 more easily as well. You can find the installers for the Azure CLI 1.0 on the Github repository.

Azure CLI 2.0 Installation

Here’s commands to install Azure CLI 2.0 on different platforms. Keep in mind that it does require Python.

Windows Command-Line

You can download the .MSI installer for Azure CLI 2.0 to install the Windows command-line support for Azure CLI.

Bash on Windows 10

The Ubuntu Bash on Windows 10 can be used to run the Azure CLI 2.0 while utilizing it’s full support for Bash and on a Windows 10 machine at the same time.

  1. First step, if you don’t have Bash on Windows installed (Ubuntu Bash on Windows 10, or the newer (coming soon) support for SUSE and Fedora on Windows 10 too!) then install it!
  2. Using Bash, modify your sources list:
    echo "deb [arch=amd64] wheezy main" | \
    sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/azure-cli.list

Run the following sudo commands to install the Azure CLI 2.0:

sudo apt-key adv --keyserver --recv-keys 417A0893
sudo apt-get install apt-transport-https
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install azure-cli

macOS and Linux
Here’s the installation command to install the Azure CLI 2.0 on macOS as well as Linux using Curl:

curl -L | bash

Additionally, you may need to restart your command-lim in order for some changes to take affect. You can do this with the following command:

exec -l $SHELL

Docker Container

You can also run the Azure CLI 2.0 in a Docker Container fairly easily. Here’s the “docker run” command to do this:

docker run azuresdk/azure-cli-python:<version>

apt-get on Linux

You can also use the following commands to install Azure CLI 2.0 on Linux using apt-get.

On 32-bit systems:

echo "deb wheezy main" | \
sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/azure-cli.list

On 64-bit systems:

echo "deb [arch=amd64] wheezy main" | \
sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/azure-cli.list

After you run the above 32-bit or 64-bit specific command, then you’ll need to run the following sudo commands as well:

sudo apt-key adv --keyserver --recv-keys 417A0893
sudo apt-get install apt-transport-https
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install azure-cli

There is some further documentation for installing the Azure CLI 2.0 available in the Azure Documentation site.

Getting Started with Azure CLI Commands

Both the Azure CLI 1.0 and 2.0 have very similar commands. However, the command start differently. With the Azure CLI 1.0 commands start with “azure” and with the Azure CLI 2.0 command start with “az”.

Before you can go about running Azure CLI commands, you need to first login to your Azure Subscription. Here are commands to do this in both Azure CLI versions:

# Azure CLI 1.0

azure login

#Azure CLI 2.0

az login

To get a full list of the available commands and full help information you can run the following command:

# Azure CLI 1.0


# Azure CLI 2.0


Also, you can find the version of Azure CLI you have installed by using the following command:

# Azure CLI 1.0

azure --version

# Azure CLI 2.0

az --version

Azure CLI Command Examples

Here’s some example commands using both the Azure CLI 1.0 and Azure CLI 2.0. You can see that they aren’t really all that different outside of the trigger command of either “azure” or “az”.

Create New Azure Resource Group

# Azure CLI 1.0

azure group create --name MyGroup1 --location eastus

# Azure CLI 2.0

az group create --name MyGroup1 --location eastus

Create Azure App Service Plan

# Azure CLI 1.0

azure appserviceplan create --name MyPlan --resource-group MyGroup1 --location eastus --sku F1

# Azure CLI 2.0

az appservice plan create --name MyPlan --resource-group MyGroup1 --location eastus --sku F1

List All Azure Virtual Machines

# Azure CLI 1.0

azure vm list

# Azure CLI 2.0

az vm list

More Information

You can find much more information about using the Azure CLI 1.0 and 2.0 in the documentation on the Open Source project sites hosted on Github, and in the Microsoft Azure documentation. Here’s some link to those resources:

Also, don’t forget to try out the new Azure Cloud Shell to use bash with both the Azure CLI 1.0 and Azure CLI 2.0 command directly in the Azure Portal from anywhere!

Happy cross-platform, command-line scripting in the cloud!!

Posted by Chris Pietschmann

Chris is a 6-time Microsoft MVP and has nearly 20 years of experience building enterprise systems both in the cloud and on-premises. He is also a Certified Microsoft Azure Solutions Architect (both MCSD and MCSE), a Microsoft Certified Trainer, and self proclaimed Cloud Advocate. He has a passion for technology and sharing what he learns with others to help enable them to learn faster and be more productive.


  1. […] Azure CLI 1.0 vs 2.0 Compared, Installation and Usage (Chris Pietschmann) […]


  2. Is it only me that have a problem with installing yet another language just so I can run a tool?
    Node.js is one thing, by now there are so many things that use it that it not a problem.
    But python? It might be common on linux but it does not seem to be so common on windows.


    1. An option you have is to install it using the Ubuntu Bash on Windows 10. That way it’s installed within the Linux Subsystem, rather than directly on Windows. Although, I also do know the pains that can come from installing and uninstalling many things on a Windows PC over time. The good news is that you can use the new Azure Cloud Shell built into the Azure Portal to run Azure CLI 1.0 and 2.0 commands within the browser without requiring you to install anything locally.


      1. Hi Chris,

        I have an old guide for configuring a NAT GW in Azure using CLI 1.0. I’m looking for the simplest/fastest way to translate that to 2.0.

        I know that all of the azure command are now az (thanks to your article), but where I can I find the other syntax changes?



      2. Chris Pietschmann April 16, 2018 at 10:45 am

        You should be able to find that in the official documentation, or using the CLI help option.

  3. Thank you. For someone just jumping in, your article makes things make way more sense. Looks like I might need to bounce around in both 1.0/2.0 environments until I can figure out the CLI 2.0 in more detail.


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