In the certification craze of 1999-2001, tens of thousands of people earned their Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) ratings. Those certifications are expiring now, just as Microsoft is coming out with Windows Server 2003 to replace the Windows 2000 family of operating systems. There may be a real opportunity for those who earn the Windows Server 2003 certification and that’s where MCSE Self-Paced Training Kit: Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Core Requirements comes in.

This four-book set (which comes with quiz software and a 180-day laboratory version of Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition, plus a coupon for 15 percent off the cost of each of the four exams), combined with some hands-on practical work, should be all you need to earn the new MCSE rating or the Microsoft Certified System Administrator (MCSA) certification. Each of the four books (each with a separate author) covers the published requirements of a single exam. Coverage tends to be text-heavy even procedures rely mostly on text and use few screen shots.

This goes to reinforce the fact that these are serious books for people with a pretty good idea of what they’re doing already. Chapters typically begin with conceptual coverage of their subjects (using diagrams to illustrate the relationships among network entities in many cases) and move on to illustrative procedures to try. Chapters then conclude with carefully considered discussion questions. The answers to the questions appear in an appendix, complete with explanations of why the correct answers are what they are.

David Wall

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