Windows Sysinternals Administrator’s Reference

I have been a huge fan of the Sysinternals tools ever since I switched to Windows for my work. These tools give the ability to peek into every heartbeat of Windows, and you develop an appreciation for the beauty and complexity of this operating system. So, it is no wonder that I eagerly awaited the Windows Sysinternals Administrator’s Reference once Mark Russinovich announced it earlier this year. Written by Mark and Aaron Margosis, this book helps readers use the Sysinternals tools effectively to understand the working internals of Windows, and to diagnose and fix problems.

Part 1 talks about the history of Sysinternals tools and gives a brief description of administrator privileges, user-kernel mode, processes, threads, jobs and handles in Windows. Though designed similar to other operating systems, Windows is a different beast. This chapter is a highly educational read to understand just how it differs and to catch up on the Windows OS jargon. The first 3 chapters of Part 2 are worth the price of the book itself — they go deep into the capabilities of Process Explorer, Process Monitor and Autoruns. Having learnt these 3 tools one can start to live comfortably with Windows. (Well, almost!) The rest of Part 2 covers the other Sysinternals tools, most of which I do not use. Part 3 is a compendium of many troubleshooting mystery cases, which were solved by using Sysinternals tools. Followers of Russinovich’s blog or talks will be familiar with most of these since he has written and presented about them before. Written like a detective mystery, each of these are sure to be engaging to geeks.

Windows Sysinternals Administrator’s Reference is a good companion to the Windows Internals books, providing the much needed practical information and tools to get down-and-dirty with the internals of Windows. Like his blog and talks, Russinovich’s narrative here is entertaining and educational to read. The book completely pays for itself with just Part 1 and the first 3 chapters of Part 2. This book is a must for everyone who uses Windows as their primary operating system.

Windows 7: The Missing Manual

Is there any payback to a long time Windows user by reading a 900 page book on Windows 7? If the tome in question happens to be Windows 7: The Missing Manual, then the answer is surprisingly yes! Written by David Pogue, the tech writer for The New York Times, this book is an useful pick for everyone from the newbie to the expert user.

A lot of incremental changes have been happening in Windows over several versions and you may have missed some of it. I found the book immensely useful in discovering these little nuggets: easier keyboard shortcuts, features, usage scenarios and dialogs that greatly enhance the user experience. The book is loaded with the hallmark wit and sarcasm of Pogue, that makes it a joy to flip through. For experienced users, I do not recommend buying this tome. Instead, borrow it and go through it for a few hours with your laptop beside you, trying out your discoveries. I highly recommend at least a cursory glance at the first few chapters of Windows 7: The Missing Manual for all Windows users.

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