XP Basics

Windows XP Professional Network Administration is best suited for neophytes

When I first decide whether or not to buy a book, especially a technical book, I like to find out whom the publication is targeting. The authors say this book is for people with an intermediate knowledge of Microsoft Windows. I wouldn't say this is quite accurate, as I view this book as being well suited for someone trying to learn XP without any background in the Windows environment. I'm not saying this is bad, just that this book starts at a very elementary level. Even when tackling advanced topics, it doesn't go in depth.

You see this from the first chapter in the book. It starts off with a basic overview of networking and how things interconnect. From there, it moves onto basic networking in XP and how to set it up. Now this points to a strong side of the book, especially for people new to the Windows environment. Everything is explained via a simple step-by-step method with easy-to-follow instructions. This does bring up one issue I have with the book¾it doesn't seem to flow well and there are parts that just feel like one set of instructions after another.

Again, what the book does right is its simple approach to its topics. Take the section on troubleshooting, for example. It isn't the most advanced I've ever seen, but it lays a good framework for the beginner. It has numerous examples of commands and troubleshooting steps you can use if you run into any problems with your XP machine.

Now, with any technical book, there are always some errors¾this one is no exception. For the most part, these errors won't get you into trouble; they mostly come in the form of making generalizations that are far too broad. Errors also occur in the book when the authors make statements such as XP was the first Windows OS to be able to perform a particular function.

One part I really did like and helped make the book complete was the chapter on monitoring XP network performance. It's rare to find a chapter on Windows monitoring using the built-in tool, or any tools for that matter, in books written to this kind of audience. The chapter is well written and, though it by no means covers all the counters and objects that Windows allows you to monitor, it does do a good job of giving you a thorough look at the tool and some important counters.

Overall, this book serves its target audience, though not so much the audience the book intends. It is good for the novice who has just been put in charge of a small Windows XP network. Everyone else might want to look for a book that goes into a little more detail and with a little less step-by-step instruction on every other page.

About the Author

Richard Harlan, MCSE, Network+, lives in the Kansas City area and is working as the Network Engineer for the John Deere Ag Marketing Center.

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