Having been a fan of Mark Russinovich's for some time now, I always look forward to new editions of the Windows Internals book. I own the fourth and fifth editions, and a week ago I purchased the sixth edition, which is now released in two parts. Part 1 is the subject of this review.
Since I also own the fifth edition of this work, I was able to review both editions side-by-side and the differences are not significant. The sixth edition expands a little more on some topics, but IMHO there is not a whole lot of new information considering the incremental nature of the upgrade from Windows 6.0 to 6.1, and the minor differences between the Windows 6.0 (Vista and Server 2008) and Windows 6.1 (Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2) kernels.
Part 1 prepares the reader by explaining basic concepts and giving an overview of Windows system architecture. It then addresses System Mechanisms, such as Trap Dispatching and the Image Loader, and Management Mechanisms, such as the Registry, and Windows Services. It then deals with Processes, Threads and Jobs in detail, before concluding with treatments of Security, and finally Networking. Additionally, to enhance understanding, explanations are bolstered by practical, hands-on experiments.
Part 2, however, contains some of my favorite topics, but this volume won't be available until later this fall. These topics include Input/Output, Storage Management, Memory Management, File Systems, and the Startup and Shutdown Process. I guess I will have to wait for the release of Part 2 to review these.
As far as ratings go, I give this sixth edition of Windows Internals the same five-star rating as its predecessor. Although not a ground-breaking work, it is a well-researched and well-presented technical reference, worthy of the highest commendation. However, my issue is not with the technical merits of this reference, but with the protracted nature of its release, and its subsequent release in two parts, likely half a year apart.
Considering that Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2 are only incremental upgrades to Windows Vista and Server 2008, and much of the fifth edition of Windows Internals applies to the current versions of these operating systems as well, I am baffled by the length of time it is taking to complete the sixth edition.
The only thing I can speculate is that Russinovich's new career as a successful novelist (with his second novel due out in September) leaves him little time to complete this current project.
Maybe it might be time to consider reducing the scope of the Windows Internals books to something less ambitious so they can be released in a timelier manner. Because, let's face it, by the time Part 2 of this book is released, Windows 8 will already be upon us, and then this work, no matter how authoritative, will have markedly less significance. Nevertheless, this book is still recommended.