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