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Who I am
The value of any book depends on the experience of the author, so you should want to know just who the heck is writing this book. I've run a computer consulting business, Independent Software, Inc., since 1982, and I've been a seminar developer and instructor since 1988. As a consultant, I normally work with large organizations on rolling out and supporting Windows technologies, although for a change of pace I provided consulting services and testimony in the Microsoft antitrust trial for about a year. My seminars target the professional technical market, and have included intensive two-day courses on Windows 3.0, 3.1, 95, 98, 2000, and (now) XP.
An MCSE myself, I've taken more Microsoft exams than I care to remember. I've received MCP status for all versions of Windows since 3.1, and I've also passed various weird limited-time Microsoft tests, such as 'Windows 95 Migration Specialist.' In addition, I've been a Windows 2000 and Windows XP beta tester.I've written a few other books on Windows before this one. Windows 2000 Registry For Dummies, Windows 98 Registry For Dummies, and Windows 95 Registry For Dummies make the inscrutable Registry database at least moderately scrutable. And you may be interested in MCSE Windows 2000 Network Infrastructure For Dummies, which covers another core exam.
How This Book Is Organized
Microsoft publishes a list of objectives, or skills, for each test in the MCSE series. (See www.microsoft.com/trainingandservices/default.asp and navigate to the MCSE program pages. I'd provide a direct link, but it changes too often!) I've designed this book to follow that list. (In a few cases, I've juggled topics so they fit where they make a bit more sense, and in other cases, I've added material that doesn't appear on the objective list but that shows up on the exam.)
As with most For Dummies books, you can dip in and out of specific chapters according to where you are in your studies and what level of knowledge you already have about particular subjects. You can certainly read this book cover to cover, but each chapter is designed to give you all the information you need on a specific topic and not leave you hanging if you haven't read the entire book up to that point.
Part I: The Backdrop
In Part I, I answer the following burning questions: 1) What's the Windows XP Professional test all about? and 2) What are the basics of Windows XP Professional that you must know to profitably study the rest of the book? I recommend that everyone read Chapter 1. If you already have a fair amount of hands-on experience with Windows XP Professional, skim Chapter 2, and if you see anything that looks new or unfamiliar, read it.
Part II: Planning, Installation, and Basic Configuration
Part II is where you should start if you have to take the test tomorrow and you plan to read all night to get ready. (Not the recommended strategy, by the way.) Chapter 3 deals with file systems: FAT, FAT32, and NTFS. Chapter 4 covers the actual installation, automation options, uninstall procedures, and dual-boot setups. Chapter 5 covers language, localization, and desktop setup issues. Chapter 6 deals with networking protocols, with a decided emphasis on TCP/IP.
Part III: Installing and Configuring Hardware
Windows XP Professional brings many new hardware-related features to the table (oops, I mean 'desktop'), so Part III looks at them in the detail you'll need. Chapter 7 deals with disks, tapes, and printers. Chapter 8 covers displays and other input/output devices. Chapter 9 focuses on portable computing hardware, including power management and wireless communications.
Part IV: Configuring and Managing Resource Access
In Part IV, I walk you through the essentials of using Windows XP to control resource access in a network. Chapter 10 covers resource access on the local machine, exploring concepts of users and groups. Chapter 11 explores the various access restrictions that you can apply to shared folders and NTFS disks, and shows how to share and monitor resources. Chapter 12 examines the core concepts of 'IntelliMirror' the Registry, user profiles, offline folders, and the Windows Installer service. And Chapter 13 covers resource access via the special case of Dial-Up Networking.
Part V: Tuning and Troubleshooting Windows XP
Part V shows you, in Chapter 14, how to monitor Windows XP's performance using the built-in tools-and how to optimize that performance. Chapter 15 covers the key troubleshooting techniques you'll need to correct the more common Windows XP problems, and discusses the various methods for recovering a Windows XP system that has become damaged.
Part VI: The Part of Tens
The Part of Tens is a standard feature of For Dummies books, and this one is no different. Chapter 16 offers ten test-taking tips that have nothing to do with Windows XP but everything to do with passing the exam.
Part VII: Appendixes
The first appendix is a practice test that you can take shortly before the actual exam, to refresh the main points, fill in any gaps in your knowledge, and get you comfortable with the probable format of the actual test questions. The last is a description of the software goodies on the enclosed CD-ROM.