Serious Windows 2000 Training

For the exams or for real work, this one satisfies both training goals.

Will completing the 775-page Microsoft Windows 2000 Beta Training Kit help you prepare for Windows 2000? What about the new exams? The book is designed around Windows 2000 Beta 3. The first beta exams for Windows 2000 won’t be out until roughly six months after the book was published. As I write this, we’re at RC2; by the time you read this we’ll be nearing Win2K’s release.

On the first page, under “About This Book,” it states that in addition to introducing you to Win2K, the book “prepares you to install, configure, administer, and support Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional and Microsoft Windows 2000 Server.” It also says, “This course also supports the Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer program.” Sounds to me like a promise to prepare you for the following MCSE exams: 70-210, Installing, Configuring, and Administering Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional, and 70-215, Installing, Configuring, and Administering Microsoft Windows 2000 Server.

Therefore, in addition to reviewing how well the Training Kit does in introducing and preparing you for Win2K, I’ll examine how well it maps to the roster of “Skills Being Measured,” which you can find in the Preparation Guides for the Win2K Professional and Server exams that have been posted on Microsoft’s Web site at www.microsoft.com/mcp/certstep/mcse.htm#w2k.

The first item in “Skills Being Measured” is installation. The Training Kit covers a clean attended CD-ROM and a clean network install from a shared flat file. That’s great, but the Professional MCP exam will also cover unattended installs using Remote Installation Services (RIS is a really cool deployment technology—to get up to speed, follow the Win2K links at www.microsoft.com/windows/default.asp); using Sysprep (used to prepare a system to be imaged with third-party tools); and creating answer files to control all of these deployment methods using Setup Manager. Unfortunately, the Training Kit doesn’t cover these kinds of unattended installs.

The Training Kit also doesn’t talk about upgrades from previous operating systems, using update packs to upgrade applications, or deployment of service packs. All of these topics are in the skills list for one or both of the exams. [The Upgrading to Windows 2000 Training Kit (MS Press, ISBN 1-57231-894-5, $79.99), which is currently under evaluation for a future review, may address these topics.—Ed.]

Both exams will also have sections on managing resources. Topics like managing access to files and folders; managing file systems; converting FAT to NTFS; NTFS permissions; managing printers and print jobs; and configuring, managing, and troubleshooting distributed file systems. Here, the Training Kit does a more thorough job, providing generally excellent coverage of the majority of topics. This area is also meat and potatoes for folks just starting out in Windows NT/2000; the Kit lays a solid foundation on managing resources.

The subjects of installing, configuring, and managing hardware devices are also covered on both test lists. In this case, the Kit’s coverage is meager. I was particularly surprised by the lack of information on Plug and Play technology and its underpinnings of Advanced Power Management and support of ACPI-compliant BIOSs.

After hardware, the topics for the two tests diverge. In terms of the Professional exam, coverage continues to be spotty. Highlights include excellent discussions on networking and TCP/IP on LANs, managing user profiles, task scheduler, backup, safe mode booting, troubleshooting the boot process, auditing, and account policies. On the other hand, weak or missing is treatment of multilanguage support, offline files, Internet Connection Sharing, VPNs, Encrypting File System, installing applications using Windows Installer packages, managing and troubleshooting driver signing, optimizing performance, dial up networking, and managing local users and groups. This is somewhat surprising, since several of these are major features new with Win2K.

In the case of Win2K Server, coverage is solid for user profiles, disk quotas, disk failures, shared access, network protocols, network services, auditing, group policies, account policies, and configuring security. Notably weak or missing is monitoring and optimizing systems performance, VPNs and RAS, Terminal Services (which only garners a mention as a server service), and the Encrypting File System.

If you’re planning on taking the Win2K tests in beta form when they start surfacing in March, this Kit is likely an excellent place to start. Be forewarned though: As a test preparation guide there are some major gaps that you’ll need to fill in for both the Professional and Server exams.

As an introduction to Win2K, this Kit does an excellent job. I particularly liked the excellent coverage of TCP/IP in the context of understanding Win2K. Recommend it to your cousin or the kid from the mailroom who’s always hanging around wanting to learn about Win2K. While not strictly introductory, it’s accessible to both newbies and seasoned NT 4.0 pros. I think it certainly deserves a place on our bookshelves.

In subsequent editions, the publisher and authors have a great opportunity to expand their coverage to include several key and new-to-Win2K features.

About the Author

Douglas King, MCSE+Internet, MCT, is training manager for the Redmond, Washington Entex Information Systems branch.

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