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Bernie's Books: 'Windows Server 2003 -- A Beginner's Guide'

Windows Server 2003: A Beginner's Guide gives novices just enough information to get themselves in trouble, writes reviewer Bernie Klinder. But there are some who will benefit from this guide.

Bernie's BooksWriting a beginner's guide on any complex subject is a daunting task. To be successful, the author needs to provide enough information to make the reader comfortable with basic tasks without getting carried away with all of the technical possibilities. Typically, books available in this category offer a high-level overview and describe rudimentary technical skills that are generally too basic to be of any use to an experienced IT professional.

Windows Server 2003: A Beginner's Guide by Martin Mathews is an improvement over the standard fare and a better alternative for introductory training in either a class-based or self-study program.

Bernie Klinder, Contributing Editor
Bernie Klinder, Contributing Editor
The book is an excellent starting place for managers or other people who need to understand the capabilities and technical requirements of Windows Server 2003 but won't actually be performing any administrative functions. It is also a very useful manual for help desk and desktop support personnel who need a broad conceptual overview of Windows Server 2003 and intend to take additional training or study materials. But Windows Server 2003: A Beginner's Guide falls short of the Microsoft Official Curriculum and, as a consequence, is far too elementary to be an effective training tool all by itself.

The book starts by focusing on the essential skills and concepts required of any new administrator. It has the organization and feel of a formal textbook or training manual and is divided into five general sections containing three to four chapters each. These chapters are subsequently broken down even further into short modules that explain concepts and teach basic tasks.

Windows Server 2003: A Beginner's Guide

By Martin Mathews

McGraw Hill/Osborne, 752 pages

Part one examines the basic concepts of Windows Server 2003 and includes versions, new features and the pro and cons of migration. Part two covers Windows Server 2003 deployments, the basics of performing installations, rolling out Windows XP and the use of Remote Installation Services. Part three provides a very basic overview of networking and Active Directory. Part four continues with communications, Internet services, IIS 6.0, virtual private networks, terminal services and remote desktop. Part five finishes with day-to-day administration: managing storage and file systems, printing and faxing services, managing Windows servers and security.

The individual modules are well written and feature plenty of callouts offering tips, warnings and helpful illustrations. Each chapter and section ends with a series of review questions to ensure that you understand the basic concepts. The logical progression and breakdown of complex skills makes it easy to follow along without feeling overwhelmed.

The problem is that the skills admins need to really master Windows Server 2003 are complex. Rather than take the beginner to an intermediate level, Windows Server 2003: A Beginner's Guide provides the novice with just enough knowledge to be dangerous: the technical equivalent of a sorcerer's apprentice who has learned a few tricks and can't wait to try them out. For the curious computer enthusiast, this is fine. For the professional administration staff, I would recommend the Microsoft Official Curriculum or other MCSE training guides.

About the author: Bernie Klinder is the founder and former editor of, a comprehensive resource index for IT professionals who support enterprise Windows and BackOffice products. Before joining as a contributing editor and operating system troubleshooting expert, Bernie worked as a technology consultant for several Fortune 500 companies in northeast Ohio. For his contributions to the technical community, Bernie was reselected as an MVP (Most ValuableProfessional) by Microsoft in 2004.


Expert advice: Submit an OS question to Bernie Klinder

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