Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Windows NT

Windows NT Resource Kit
Despite the increasing interest in Windows NT, books on NT can still be hard to find. Many of the books available haven't been updated since version 3.1. As a solution to this dilemma, Microsoft Press has provided the Windows NT Resource Kit, completely updated for NT 3.5 and soon to be updated for version 3.51.

The Resource Kit is a four-volume set of manuals with extensive technical information covering Windows NT Workstation and Windows NT Server Version 3.5. It is written in more of a reference book format, which doesn't make great cover-to-cover reading but does make it easy to find specific information quickly. In addition, the introduction contains a brief overview of each chapter.

The Resource Kit is not an introduction to NT; it assumes at least a basic working knowledge of NT, operating system architecture, and networks. The introduction in Volume 1 states, "The Windows NT Resource Guide is designed for people who are, or who want to become, expert users of Microsoft Windows NT Workstation and Microsoft Windows NT Server." By focusing on the moderate to advanced-level user, the Resource Kit can present more information in a more concise format.

Volume 1 is the Windows NT Resource Guide. Its introduction calls it "a technical supplement to the documentation included as part of the Windows NT product." Part 1, "About Windows NT," explains NT's architecture and security model. Part 2 contains a couple of chapters on installing NT, describing advanced techniques such as automated setup. Part 3, "Using Windows NT," covers advanced techniques for using some of NT's features, including the Disk Administrator, Print Manager, Mail, and Schedule+. Perhaps the most important section of the Resource Guide is Part 4, which covers the Registry, the heart and soul of Windows NT. Part 4 contains more than 300 pages of Registry information. Part 5 discusses compatibility issues with Windows 3.X, OS/2, and POSIX applications. The six-page troubleshooting chapter isn't worth much, but the appendices are.

Volume 2 is the Networking Guide. It contains all the information you need to set up a stand-alone NT network or to integrate one into an existing network. Part 1 begins with brief descriptions of networking basics, the NT networking architecture, and how NT interacts with other network operating systems. It also includes a useful chapter entitled "Network Security and Administration" which eases administrators into the confusing world of domain security. Part 2 describes some of NT's networking features including setting up client/ server systems and the Remote Access Service (RAS). Part 3 examines "everything you always wanted to know about" configuring TCP/IP in NT but never asked. Installation, configurations, printing, the FTP Server Service, Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP), and Windows Internet Name Service (WINS) are just some of the topics covered. After you've learned all about TCP/IP, you're ready to take on the Internet. Part 4 discusses setting up Internet clients and servers and Internet access with RAS. If you plan on having more than just a standalone NT computer, the Networking Guide is a must.

Volume 3 is about messages. Gone are the days of the generic "Something is wrong!" message. NT's error messages are much more specific. After a short introduction to terminology, the book contains several hundred pages of messages and their meanings. Volume 3 comes with three disks containing an on-line, searchable message database. The messages volume and its on-line capabilities are essential for anyone troubleshooting NT systems.

Volume 4, "Optimizing Windows NT," was written by Russ Blake and breaks away from the reference-book style. Instead, the author uses a more narrative and somewhat humorous approach to explain performance monitoring and how to use the Performance Monitor. Blake also explains how to detect system bottlenecks including processor, disk, memory, and network bottlenecks. He teaches the "Ten Rules of Bottleneck Detection." Several useful chapters are included on tuning high-performance NT applications and adding performance counters to applications. Volume 4 comes with three disks containing tools to help you "slay those bottleneck dragons"--several hands-on projects show you how.

If the books don't keep you occupied, you can browse through the CD-ROM. It contains all the tools and utilities on the disks with Volumes 3 and 4 as well as other utilities, for example, network management tools (such as the Windows NT Domain Planner), Internet tools (EMWAC's Gopher, WAIS, and HTTP servers as well as a DNS service), Microsoft's Windows NT Knowledge Base (as of 12/94), and a sample Microsoft TechNet CD. Most of the software on the CD is compiled for Intel, MIPS, and Alpha systems. I can't possibly list all the software, so have fun browsing!

The Windows NT Resource Kit may not answer all of your NT questions, but with nearly 3000 pages of text, six disks, and a CD, it will come close. It is currently the most complete source of technical information for Windows NT 3.5. If you are a network administrator or a developer or if you just want to know more about NT, you should strongly consider it. The list price is $199.95, and it's worth every cent.

\[Editor's note: Microsoft Press is preparing to release an update for Windows NT version 3.51. Due in mid-October, the update includes a fifth volume and some updated software. The price of the set will stay at $199.95. For those who already own the Resource Kit, the additional volume will be available separately for $19.95.\]

Windows NT Resource Kit
The Resource Kit offers extensive technical information about Windows NT Workstation and Windows NT Server.
Published by: Microsoft Press, 800-677-7377, Price: $199.95