Customer Reviews: Microsoft Windows Internals (4th Edition): Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Windows XP, and Windows 2000
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Showing 1-10 of 25 reviews(5 star). Show all reviews
on April 6, 2005
I've always been a bit twiddler - whether it's writing 16-bit drivers for Windows 3.1 or doing Windows Server 2003 storage related development, I've never shied away from getting into the meat of the system.

In 1992, I got "Inside Windows NT" by Helen Custer to discover how Windows NT was structured. I purchased at least one of the other editions as well, which were authored by David Solomon and Mark Russinovich. The fourth edition has a hard cover and a new name, "Windows Internals, fourth edition".

Solomon and Russinovich are well known for their knowledge of how Windows works deep under the covers. Russinovich produces a number of very cool tools, many of them free at his Sysinternals web site.

This book does not cover details of Win32 API or the .NET Framework. It does cover the kernel, memory management, I/O sub-system including ACPI and Plug and Play, and storage. The fourth edition covers low-level changes in Windows XP and Windows Server 2003.

This is not a book with coding examples. Developers working this level already have excellent API references from the Microsoft developer kits. This book is heavy on concepts and implementation, with exercises in practicality. However, its best feature is the great number of sidebars with various "experiments" you can do, often featuring unique ways of using the Sysinternals tools.

While obviously system level developers will gain the most benefit from this book, there is a ton of information for IT professionals as well - particularly for system performance tuning. I was able to use the information regarding Event Tracing for Windows (ETW) in my current project. Sadly, the final chapter, on Crash Dump analysis, seems incomplete and ends rather abruptly. Being a Microsoft Press author myself, I wonder if schedule pressures were involved.
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on January 9, 2007
As an experienced UNIX device driver developer, I was looking for reference material on writing drivers for Windows. Recent books on Windows device driver development seemed much more sparse than I was expecting. After using this book, I think it may simply be due the fact that "Microsoft Windows Internals" is such an excellent reference.

The chapters are segregated in such a way that makes it easy to obtain the specific information you are looking for. If you're a novice and are just looking for a How-To book, you would probably do better to consult the MSDN library. However, even for a beginner this book would be good as a reference, and it is phenomenal as a reference for the experienced developer. For myself, I found it very easy to transition into the Windows world from my UNIX universe with this read.

If you aren't particularly familiar with Windows systems development, the first couple of chapters are quintessential, actually. They do an excellent job of pointing to references for tools and reading material which will help your comprehension of the material and your ability to use it. For example, even one of the later chapters pointed me to the exact DDK I needed for the problem I was trying to solve. At the point I read the book, I had no idea there was a separate DDK for that particular problem. This is one of the few books where the informational sidebars are truly informational.

All in all, if you're doing any kind of Windows system internals development, whether device driver level or just trying to understand how parts of the kernel work, this is an excellent reference. Highly recommended!
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on January 19, 2006
I read a LOT of "computer books" and this doesn't even fall into the same category! This is required reading if you want to get a glimpse at what Windows is truly all about.

Mark E. Russinovich and David A. Solomon have once again put together a true masterpiece. This book is very well written and has information that you just can't get anywhere else. I think one of the best things that this book does is actually gives you real world ways you can apply this knowledge - not just a bunch of theory.

To see a little more about the level of expertise behind this book check out Mark's site at [...] - you will also find some VERY helpful tools at that site, both free and for sale. If you do anything in Windows support you recognize that site!
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on August 10, 2005
You should read this book from cover to cover. I have been buying this book since the second edition. It is an excellent reference. Before you even open the DDK, run IDA Pro, or connect your kernel debugger, you need to know the fundamentals. This book lays it all out in the open.
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on July 24, 2006
I'm keeping this short and to the point. The content is rich and detailed. It truly speaks to how the Microsoft operating system functions on different levels. The book analyzes those different levels and goes into detail on how to use specific tools to "view what's happening".

My synopsis of the book is simple. When you "know what's happening", you can fix the problem. This book addresses various techniques and common occurrences that happen in the operating system and goes into detail about how to resolve them.

I've been diagnosing and troubleshooting Microsoft OS's since the NT3.51 days and wish I had read this book sooner (the rev 1 version).

I wish the book was available in PDF on a CD but alas, no such luck. The book is hardcover and reasonably heavy so it's not always convenient to bring it along. However, the content more than makes up for this lack of convenience.
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on February 23, 2008
As a former Microsoft technical lead who was a part of the "core" Enterprise server support team I will tell you that this is the one book that is (still) handed out to all new members of our team!

Within Microsoft server support this book is the architecture "bible".

Also David and Mark's elegant shareware tools <[...]> were also the only 3rd party tools that were sanctioned for recommendation to Microsoft customers.

This book is the defacto standard for all things relating to Windows architecture. Not always an easy read, but if you are persistent and just keep re-reading (which is what I had to do for a long time!) eventually it will sink in, and when it does you will understand (and appreciate) Windows on a very low level.

Highly recommended!

Vic Rozumny

btw- MS recently bought sysinternals and you will be redirected when you go to the site. Congrats guys.
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on May 2, 2005
If you are a professional software developer, windows or any other platform, you need to have this book. Russinovich and Solomon give a very detailed view the internal workings of the windows operating system. This volume works as both a reference and good read. They detail numerous experiments throughout the book with links to download tools from the author's web site ([...] The book is light on code samples. Don't expect to be writing windows applications from this book. The solid understading of window's under the hood that this book provides is cannot understated. You will reference this book again and again.
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on May 15, 2005
I think I have read all the previous edition of his (Mark's)books. I don't think any other book gives you the kind of insight he gives. The book might be little too technical for beginners but for those interested in the internals, this is a gem. I highly recommend it.

I hope Mark can keep up with the changes and keeps benefiting the community, by coming out with new editions as Windows OS advances. Can't wait for the 64 bit OS or the Long Horn edition!
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on August 3, 2008
I highly recommend this book to anyone who needs a very detailed analysis of Windows XP/2000/2003. It's so good, I've already ordered Windows® Internals: Including Windows Server 2008 and Windows Vista, Fifth Edition (PRO-Developer).

I found the content to be rich and detailed. It tells how the Microsoft operating system functions on different levels and goes into detail on how to use specific tools to examine what's happening.

I imagine like most readers, I don't need to know everything about Windows but I do need to know everything possible about specific aspects. I purchased this book mainly to get detailed information about the NTFS file system. A phenominal companion is Stanek's Microsoft® Windows Server(TM) 2003 Inside Out /Windows Server 2008 Inside Out which provide indepth examination of storage and file systems from an administrator's perspective.

My synopsis of the book is this. I found it to be very informative. Handy when it comes to NTFS and associated system areas such as the cache and virtual memory. An excellent purchase.
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on January 14, 2008
I think the thing that's impressed me the most while reading through this book is just how hellishly complicated these operating systems really are - the number of situations that they have to handle - things they have to take into account - and the co-operation, co-ordination, and communication between the varies components is nothing short of phenominal.

So to have a hope in hell of getting to grips with a beast like this, one really needs to start with solid foundations & accurate overviews - and that's what this book does. In fact, I believe that it's "standard issue" for new Microsoft employees. From the solid-foundation, the book branches out into all of the major areas that you'd expect.

In all honesty it's NOT a "casual read" for anyone just getting into the IT "game", but for those (programmers, IT consultants, Network Engineers) who make the effort to digest it's contents, the payoff will be a MUCH deeper understanding of what's going on "under the hood" - information I've already put to good use in solving a relatively bizarre issue relatively quickly.

I suspect that for many who's livelihood comes from working in these kinds of areas, the return on investment would come PDQ.
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