A Step in the MCSE Direction

This book, while thin in some areas, will help young IT workers get a better grasp of Windows 2000.

This book is an excellent starting point for anyone wanting to learn about Windows 2000, providing an overview and description of the many new features of the operating system. The material is in a well-organized and easy-to-read format. The two-color text format, blue titles with black body, and a large font size make reading this book a real pleasure.

The book's most powerful feature is its set of step-by-step walk-throughs covering every major feature in Win2K. This makes it easy for either a novice or a more-advanced user to quickly find and configure most of the features.

The 22-chapter book starts with a well-designed and detailed table of contents. Each chapter consists of a set of MCSE exam objectives, an overview, explanation of all related concepts, a set of complete hands-on walk-throughs and a key point summary. It also includes a study guide containing a set of assessment questions, scenarios and lab exercises. The chapters are grouped into six concise sections, each covering certain aspects of the OS: introduction to Win2K; installation and configuration; managing and securing resources; networking and interoperability; monitoring, optimizing and troubleshooting; and resources.

Included with the book are two CDs containing the BeachFront Quizzer exam-simulation software, Micro House Technical Library demo, VMWare 2.0 trial version, Diskeeper 5.0 trial version, Undelete 2.0, Adobe Acrobat Reader, the e-book version of the book in .pdf format, and a set of .avi files with demonstrations of the labs in the book.

That's a whole lot of material packed into one book; the good news is that even if you don't use all of these tools, you'll probably find some that can help you understand the material. Frankly, I found the AVI files very helpful. There are more than 80 of them on the CD, and each one covers a full hands-on demo of a particular Win2K feature as is described by the author.

The exam-simulation software is good. However, the questions aren't as in-depth as I would have liked and are overly simplistic. It's a good start for a beginner candidate to get familiarized with the type of questions they'll find on the certification exams; however, for a more serious MCSE candidate, I'd suggest other exam alternatives, such as Transcender (www.transcender.com), the Best Tests (www.thebesttests.com) or the Microsoft Press Readiness Review Exams, all of which are great choices to fully prepare a candidate for a tough Win2K MCSE exam.

As far as other utilities on the disk, I found the Diskeeper 5.0 very useful. It's a limited 30-day evaluation and a fully functional version of the actual product that allows for defragmentation of several volumes of the same hard disk simultaneously-something that the Win2K disk defragmenter can't do.

I didn't find VMWare 2.0, which allows for multiple OSes to run simultaneously on the same computer, as helpful. In order for a Win2K MCSE candidate to fully learn about networking, a home lab is essential. No simulation software will equal the actual hands-on, Win2K experience you can get by using a home network.

The Micro House Technical Library demo was a good start to access Win2K-related technical information on its Web site. However, I have found the white papers, technical articles and the Microsoft Knowledgebase (all from Microsoft) more valuable in learning about Win2K. Besides, all the Microsoft content is free!

If you're using this book to prepare for Win2K MCSE certification, you'll find that it lacks the depth necessary to grasp both the Active Directory and Network Infrastructure exams. For example, the author dedicates a full chapter to TCP/IP, but doesn't explain IP Security in detail nor how it works. He also doesn't cover NAT editors or WINS. Some of the IPConfig utility optional switches, such as /registerdns and /displaydns aren't even mentioned in this book, even though DNS plays a major role in Win2K deployment.

The book, however, does provide solid coverage for both the Win2K Professional and Server exam objectives and would make an excellent supplement to any exam-preparation strategy, especially for users new to Win2K. This book, together with my personal favorites-the Win2K online help and the Windows 2000 Professional and Server Resource Kits available from Microsoft Press-can give you a solid foundation in Win2K and provide valuable assistance in becoming an MCSE.

This book presents its material in a very orderly fashion, and it's fun to read and easy to grasp. It covers topics in a logical step-by-step manner, and the examples are solid and clear. The author, combines a high level of technical expertise with a clear presentation. I do wish there were two volumes instead of one. This would have made this book lighter (for more than 1,500 pages of material) and it would have allowed more information, avoiding some of the shortcomings mentioned above. Overall, though, this is an excellent book worth reading.

About the Author

Behzad Nazardad, MCSE, MCP+I, has been in the field of computer science engineering for 13 years. He holds a bachelor's degree in computer science and electrical engineering from California State University, Long Beach. Behzad currently works as an IT trainer and Win2K consultant. He works for several companies and provides special training, mostly to companies overseas. Behzad can be contacted at bennaz64@hotmail.com.

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