Books that explain the workings of functionally similar command-line operating systems, such as Unix, are essentially big lists of text commands. But documenting Windows NT presents a challenge. Since Windows NT has a largely graphical interface, how does an author create a handy guide to all of its interface elements?
In Windows NT in a Nutshell, Eric Pearce seems to have solved the problem. He surveys the entire environment, one piece at a time, and depicts dialog boxes and their contents in a graphical tree format. With this style, he makes it fairly clear as to what you need to click in order to bring up the interface element you want. This book covers Windows NT Server 4.0 and Windows NT Workstation 4.0, though there's no mention of the Windows NT Resource Kit or particular Service Packs.
Though the tree-like graphics that represent various parts of the Windows NT GUI require a short figuring-out period, they're some of the best tools around for demystifying dialog boxes, their subsidiaries, and the various options and commands available in each. Classic, man-page-like entries back up these graphics, so you get details as well as the big picture.
The most valuable treasure in Windows NT in a Nutshell is a chapter called "Uncommon Sense," in which Pearce flits from one Windows NT topic to the next, spouting advice that clearly derives from considerable experience. Buy this book for its interface documentation, but be sure to read "Uncommon Sense" in full right away. --David Wall
About the Author
Eric Pearce is an author and technical resource for O'Reilly & Associates. In addition to co-authoring this book, he is also responsible for developing CD-ROM companion disks for books produced by O'Reilly & Associates. Eric's interests include promoting public domain software, Internet connectivity, and network services. Before coming to work for O'Reilly & Associates, Eric worked as a systems programmer for Boston University, which he also attended as a student. His favorite activities include bicycling, snowboarding, rock climbing, and dangerous sports.