For some time now, Microsoft Windows (in all its incarnations) has been the dominant desktop operating system for businesses small and large. But in recent years, the platform has also made significant inroads into the server side of the equation. In the late 1990s, for example, the now-legacy Windows NT 4.0 Server platform became popular for running web servers using IIS and largely displaced Novell NetWare in the file/print server arena. Other server applications that ran on top of NT, such as Microsoft Exchange and Microsoft SQL Server, also made Windows a top platform for messaging/collaboration and database servers.
Windows 2000 Server built upon the success of NT by adding increased stability, reliability, and a new feature called Active Directory that quickly overtook Novell Directory Services (NDS) as the dominant enterprise-level directory service product. And Windows Server 2003, the latest incarnation of server-side Windows, is likely to further cement Microsoft's dominant position in the enterprise, despite the serious challenges arising from Linux and other open source software.
Why has Microsoft made such rapid gains in the server market? The answer is found in the simplicity of administering the platforms. An easy-to-use GUI, a consistent set of tools, wizards that walk you through performing complex tasks?such features make it possible to learn how to install, configure, and maintain Windows servers in weeks, without any knowledge of a programming or scripting language or learning a lot of complicated command-line syntax. In fact, you can probably accomplish about 90% of all Windows administration without ever opening a command prompt or running a script.
But it's that other 10% that can really matter sometimes, and that's what this book is mainly about.