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Microsoft Certifications

Book Title : Windows 2K Accelerated
eBook download format(s) : CHM
ISBN-10 : 0735612498 
ISBN-13 : 978-0-735612-49-5 
Author(s) : Microsoft Corporation
Publisher : Microsoft Press (25 Oct 2000)
Section : Microsoft Certifications
Book Review:
Most of the books on the Windows 2000 Accelerated exam have the same pitfall; they assume, because the reader got his MCSE, that he or she has been keeping up on all of the latest technology. Of course, say the editors, they've worked intimately with TCP/IP, DNS, and DHCP; naturally, they've read all of the preview articles on Active Directory by now, and had the good fortune to work in a network environment, where they got hands-on experience with every facet of Windows NT 4.0... so, we don't have to provide that much entry-level detail.
But that's not always true. Sometimes, you work in a small office that has no need for DNS. Sometimes, you work in a very specific portion of the network, and your expertise is limited to a certain area. And, sometimes, you're still plugging away with your still-shrink-wrapped MCSE credentials, hoping to get enough hands-on experience to break into the field. And, if that's the case, a lot of the Accelerated books might well be right over your head.

But there's some good news: if you want a perfect entry-level book for an advanced exam, the MCSE Training Kit is the book for you. By using a wonderful mix of solid walk-throughs, intelligent explanations, and relevant screen shots, the book refreshes your memory, while it still manages to provide deeper content than a host of more "advanced" books.

The book weighs in at a hefty thousand-plus pages, but manages to be an easy read by MCSE standards, thanks to Microsoft's use of short paragraphs and a respect for the reader's intelligence. The book begins by going over the core features of Windows 2000 Professional that are central to all iterations of Windows 2000, launches into an extended discussion of networking protocols and routing, and finishes up with the more global Windows 2000 topics like Active Directory and Group Policies.

As stated, because many other Accelerated books restrict themselves only to new topics--and this one doesn't--you'll find topics that aren't handled elsewhere, and others that are covered in unexpected wealth of detail. For example, from the "information that you probably learned about Windows NT, but might be slightly rusty on" area, you'll discover that this book covers the core Windows NT Architecture, and goes over permissions in detail. On the other end of the spectrum, you'll find a whopping 60 pages that are devoted to the theory and implementation of IPSec.

But some of the topics that are given short shrift seem a little strange; IPSec gets 60 pages, but that's the same amount of space that's given to DNS, which is a far more frequently asked and misunderstood topic. And Terminal Services, a new and much-discussed feature of Windows 2000, gets just over 25 pages. Admittedly, these pages are rich with information, but this does show a slight problem with the Kit: using this as an exclusive study guide might require some outside research to discover what are the "hot spots" in the Windows 2000 Accelerated test.

Which brings up the major problem with the book: like all of the Microsoft Training Kits, this isn't really a test-preparation guide, but an education guide, which is a slightly different focus. Unfortunately, the mentality that's needed to know a topic and the mentality that's needed to pass an exam are two separate things, and the schism might not be addressed here. For example, the questions at the end of each chapter are open-ended and fairly simple--the kind that a professor might ask aloud in class, and not the complex multiple-choice-scenario meat grinders that tend to pop up on Microsoft exams. You can learn from this, certainly, and the book is worth your money; but, to ensure a guaranteed pass, it might be worth it to pick up a smaller (and cheaper) book that focuses on test preparation.

Each chapter is broken down into several subchapters, which in turn are broken into explanations and walk-throughs. The walk-throughs are always fairly simple, but at least they are well chosen and should get you through the exam--although one does wish occasionally for longer and more difficult walk-throughs and/or troubleshooting sections for potentially more complex implementations, like the NAT and VPN sections.

The explanations are almost always concise, educational, and clear; the very model of solid writing. In fact, the sections that aren't clear stick out like a sore thumb (the EFS section is a throbbing digit), simply because the overall quality is so high.

Basically, you won't go wrong picking up this book. Experienced professionals might find parts of the book simplistic and redundant, but those who don't know it all will appreciate the magnificent way in which the book both retreads and expands your knowledge. Highly recommended. --William Steinmetz

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