This review is an initial appraisal of this book's content and I will try to update it once I've spent some time actually using it in real world scenarios. What follows are my preliminary thoughts.
The problem with a lot of good technology reference books is that they struggle to meet the needs of too wide a group of readers. MS Windows 7 Administrator's Reference falls into this same trap of failing to find a niche, while also falling far short of being comprehensive.
There are many things to like about this book. It contains a decent overview of concepts and topics related to upgrading, deploying, managing, and securing Windows 7 (exactly as the title advertised). There is a lot of good information here, with nearly every major topic covered in a way that is very accessible. If you are new to Windows 7, this book would certainly prove useful. Key facets of the OS are explained in a way that will leave the reader with a good sense of the features, capabilities, and management aspects of this operating system.
However, calling this a reference is a bit of a stretch for me. Simply thumb through the book, and you'll see what I mean. The overview is enough to make one question what level of technical expertise this book is really supposed to cover. For example, in the list of free antiviruses that is provided that gives only the most basic description of each option, without making any real recommendations or highlighting differences between the products. While in a reference I would expect, well, a reference, this book falls quite short on giving up the details on things like the various cmdlets in PowerShell. True reference books would look more like a dictionary , with lots of definitions, lists of commands and settings, and so forth. For example, in an HTML reference, one would expect to find a comprehensive list of tags with an exhaustive description of each one's intended use, nuances in implementation, and various attributes and settings. This book more resembles a basic encyclopedia, with a brief overview of nearly any topic. In other words, it is like an HTML "reference" that goes over what HTML is and various facets of using it, but does not give you details on, say, what options are available for a particular variable of a particular tag. Similarly, do not expect to have a go to resource for syntax and function of all the switches for the Robocopy command! You're left to other books, or to the mighty Google for those needs.
This is not to say that the book is wide in scope, but narrow in focus, because the book picks and chooses how advanced and how detailed it gets, and it does this in a way that could leave the reader satisfied, but is equally likely to leave the reader... well, reaching for another book. In fact, some of the facets covered seem quite advanced or aimed at enterprise-level solutions like alternative distribution methods, whereas some of the more basic topics seem like things you could easily read off the back of your Windows box! One questions who this book is actually aimed at: Seasoned sys admins or new users?
All in all, this will be a useful book to anyone who wants to become more familiar with Windows 7, but for those who want something more comprehensive that will allow them to become more intimately acquainted with the finer points of the OS, should look elsewhere. Also, those looking for a structured approach that introduces Windows 7 in a way that builds from basic to more advanced level concepts might well shop around a little also--this book definitely seems to be all over the place in that respect. Yet, while it fails to excel in purpose or stand out as something I would want as my "go to" desk reference, it is still a good general purpose Windows 7 book, provided you have supplemental materials and can forgive its faults.