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Windows 7 Resource Kit

Keith AlabasterEnterprise Architect

Book Review
Review Date: 25th October 2009

Windows 7 Resource Kit
Authors: Mitch Tulloch, Tony Northrup, Jerry Honeycutt, Ed Wilson plus the Windows 7 Team at Microsoft.

ISBN: 978-0-7356-2700-0

Published: 2009 - MS Press

I am a reviewer of selected Microsoft Press publications and this is a copy of a review carried out recently on the new Windows 7 resource Kit. I have reviewed many technical reference documents over the years but I was taken aback on unpackaging the Windows 7 Resource Kit (W7RK). At over 1600 pages, at first glance it appears daunting due to its thickness and its weight.

Initial fright over, I started by firing up the CD included in the back of the book. Unlike many other tomes, the CD includes a complete e-book  in .PDF format rather than just summaries or sample scripts. At 35MB in size, the PDF file is easily transportable on other media and allowed quick searching of references and links. The inclusion of all the samples plus the Powershell Pack of shortcuts to carry out actions referenced with the manual is an additional bonus.

The Contents section identifies over thirty chapters split across six parts covering Overview, Deployment, Desktop Management, Desktop Maintenance, Networking and finally Troubleshooting.

The W7RK book is crammed with troubleshooting tips, best-practice guidance plus real-life experiences direct from the Windows 7 Team themselves. If this last item does not differentiate this book from predecessors then the added explanations of key new technologies, such as Bitlocker-to go and DirectAccess, within 'How it works' sections certainly should. The inclusion of guidance from other Microsoft technology areas that touch on Windows 7 using 'Direct from the Source' quotations provides confidence that the W7RK has considered all angles. Another break with tradition comes in the form of troubleshooting content within the chapters and sections themselves. This really helps with testing at stage points in an activity lifecycle.

The sheer volume of content drives the need to break topics into separate Parts and this could be frustrating for readers who like to read books end-to-end. However, the W7RK is a reference manual so the use of the Contents and Glossary sections is a MUST to pick up cross-references.

As expected, the Windows 7 Resource Kit goes into great detail addressing the areas that Vista was criticised over. Application compatibility, automated deployment techniques and virtualisation are core areas in the drive for return on investment and a good proportion of the manual is dedicated to these topics.

The desktop management and maintenance sections are straightforward and well documented interspersed with real-life anecdotes and recommendations.

As is traditional, the concluding sections of the book are on the 'Troubleshooting and How To Do Something' theme. The book authors have gone into a great level of detail so instead of being just an appendix, it gives an insightful look into why things may not be operating as expected, as well as providing a 'how to fix it' addendum.

Microsoft has adopted a different approach to introducing Windows 7 to the market compared to the detached approach for Vista by communicating fully and at all stages with users, developers and other interested parties. The W7RK does the same by providing input from all manner of other technologies and view points.

This has to be one of the better books I have reviewed in respect to detail of content, thoroughness of sections plus topic coverage and, lastly, the explanations of the technology being used. As a technical reader the Windows 7 Resource Kit raises the standard against which I will review future publications.

I recommend the Windows 7 Resource Kit to anyone who is going to be involved with Windows 7 deployments, administration or support.

Keith AlabasterEnterprise Architect

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