||An extremely good package for both the beginner and the Windows NT-savvy administrator, the MCSE Windows 2000 Professional Study Guide straddles that fine balance between real-world networking experience and the testing-room world of multiple-choice questions, where the official "Microsoft" answer reigns supreme. There are some minor problems with the book's organization, a poorly written chapter or two, and some worries about the toughness of the book-given questions; but, most of this book is superb and well worth your money.
As opposed to many other MCSE guides, which throw pages' worth of dense writing at you, the guide breaks everything down into smaller sections. You barely can get through a page without noticing an exam tip being shouted out to you in bold type; or finding an on-the-job aside that informs you of a frequent problem that fledgling Windows 2000 users frequently make; or getting a full Windows 2000 walk-through, backed up with lots of screen shots, that tells you how to accomplish the task at hand. The continual mix of experience, test objectives, hands-on experience, and just plain learning make this book an easy read by MCSE standards (but, still, it's no Harry Potter).
However, that does not mean that the book is content-free; it's packed with networking goodness. The writing is very dense and sometimes tough to get through, but one of the strengths of the book is the way that the various parts work together to provide a coherent whole. If you're stumped by an in-depth understanding of, say, what the difference is between a "print device" and a "printer," the "On The Job" section will explain the reasons that network admins need to create several different printers for a single device--and understanding will blossom. Likewise, you might be tempted frequently to skim over a paragraph or two because it doesn't seem critical, but the sidebar "Exam Watch" warns you that this section is a frequently misunderstood (and important) topic for prospective MCSEs. The book's individual parts might not be the best in their respective fields, but as a gestalt you can rank them with anyone else.
There are some difficulties, however. There are one or two chapters--more notably the chapter on unattended installations and RIS servers--in which the writing seems very scattered; giving you individual facts here and there, but never, for example, really summing up the advantages and disadvantages of Windows 2000's various disk-replication features. The section on TCP/IP subnetting is rushed, too; and, while careful rereading might give you an idea of the math behind the binaries, you'd definitely have to read it more than a few times. Keep in mind that these chapters are notable because of their poor writing in a book that is distinguished by quality; so, don't be misled.
The organization, too, is sketchy, as the book maps precisely to the exam objectives--which are not particularly well organized. You'll find information on setting rights on shared folders and NTFS directories in chapter 4, but you won't learn how to connect to said directories until chapter 11. This gives the book a slightly meandering feel.
Exam questions are at the end of every chapter, and most of them are fairly tough--you won't find any easy "Who created the Internet?"-type questions here. But the questions don't go to the opposite end of the scale, either, lacking the purposely baroque scenario questions for which Microsoft has a new fondness. There is also no final MCSE exam in the book. But the exam disk gives much better questions and a full exam simulation; so, if you buy the book, be sure to make use of the electronic exam.
Overall, this book is a good start for a book learner (who will need to read at least three books without hands-on experience), and a potential one-stop shop for someone with access to a test network. A recommended read. --William Steinmetz