A couple of years back, I was invited out to the Microsoft Campus in Redmond to learn about Windows Server 2008.Â It was a fantastic week – not just because it was my first trip to Redmond but also because I met so many great people – many of whose workÂ I had been reading in books, magazines and on the ‘net for years.Â One example was John Savill, who, at the time, was working on a book… a rather big book as it turns out – and his publishers sent me a copy to review.
It’s taken me some time (I did plan to use it for my MCSE to MCITP:EA upgrade in 2008) but here’s what I found when I read John Savill’s Complete Guide to Windows Server 2008, published by Addison Wesley.
At over 1700 pages, this is not a lightweight read.Â Having said that, it’s title of “complete guide” is pretty accurate – going right back to a history of Windows (although using the abbreviation of WNT for Windows NT is not something I’ve seen anywhere else, and was somewhat confusing).Â Although the book is written in a style that makes it very readable, it’s size means that it’s not something that can easily be read in bed, or on the train, or anywhere really – and that means it’s most use as a reference book (a digital copy is available to purchasers of the hardback edition, but only for 45 days… not really much use for a book this size).
But what a reference book it is!Â I’ve read many texts on deploying Windows and none have ever taken me through a network trace of a PXE boot, removing the need to press F12, or the structure of the XML that describes a Windows image.Â Sure, we now have tools like the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit but John explores Windows Deployment Services (and the Windows Automated Installation Kit) in great detail – just the sort of detail I would need if I was an administrator looking to discover how Windows works and how to make it work for me.Â These are just a few highlights though from one example of the 24 chapters (plus how to quick reference and index) – indeed I’ll list them here to show the breadth of coverage for this book:
- Windows 101: Its origins, present, and the services it provides
- Windows Server 2008 fundamentals: navigation and getting started
- Installing and upgrading Windows Server 2008
- Securing a Windows Server 2008 deployment
- File system and print management features
- Advanced networking services
- Remote access/securing and optimising the network
- Terminal Services
- Active Directory Domain Services (introduction)
- Designing and installing Active Directory
- Managing Active Directory and advanced concepts
- Active Directory Federated Services, Lightweight Directory Services, and Rights Management
- Server core
- Distributed File System
- Deploying Windows
- Managing and maintaining Windows Server 2008
- Highly available Windows Server 2008
- Virtualisation and resource management
- Troubleshooting Windows Server 2008 and Vista environments
- Group policy
- The command prompt and PowerShell
- Connecting Windows Server to other environments
- Internet Information Services
Each chapter goes into great detail, with plenty of screen shots, and command line output; yet remains extremely readable because the approach taken is to set the scene, before drilling down into the detail – rather than swamping the reader with a mountain of technical know-how.
If I had one tiny criticism, I’d say that there were a (very) few occasions when it left me hanging by referring me to the Microsoft website for more information (e.g. for details of storing BitLocker encryption keys in Active Directory); however, in general, this book provided me with the right balance between readability and technical detail – and I would not hesitate to recommend this text to anyone who works with, or is looking to learn about, Windows Server 2008.