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on 27 October 2012
I've recently bought this book and I'm currently wading through it.

I've worked with various versions of SQL server for about 7 years as a by-product of the job I do, so I thought it was time to get certified. I don't class myself as a beginner, but I'm not a pro either. Put it this way, I don't often come unstuck with regard to implementation or maintenance of a SQL server; certainly nothing that I can't solve by going online for 10 mins.

Firstly, this book seems quite dry. I find myself losing focus every couple of pages. Now, I don't like the style of certain have-fun-learning textbooks e.g. 'Head First' guides, but there has to be a happy medium between those and this in terms of delivering content. This book doesn't strike the balance for me.

Secondly, I've noticed a few mistakes. It's knocking my confidence in the material - if I can see some mistakes with my level of knowledge, what haven't I spotted which a pro might?

Next, the author is open about the fact that you won't find all of the material needed to pass the test within the pages of this book, resulting in frequent links to the Microsoft website. I find this a bit annoying as I can't just sit and read the material, I've got to off and do some alternative research. For £27 I expected a bit more.

The testing environment requires you to implement 6 or 7 virtual machines, or a test lab full of machines to enable you to set up a DC and various member servers. I obviously understand the reasons why but unless you've got access to these resources, you might struggle. They don't all need to be running at once so you might get away with running a few VMs on a server or a powerful PC. I point this out because it isn't obvious until you start reading the book.

This book assumes that you possess knowledge that you mightn't have - such as configuring a domain with a domain controller and various other member servers (including Sever Core!). You'll get the briefest of guides on how to do so, but you'll have to figure the rest out for yourself. I understand that Microsoft Certifications aren't for people who are brand new to the material, but come on! My skill set is software oriented - I manage a product which uses SQL server as its database platform. As such, I'm expected to 'know about SQL' but I'm not expected to know about server o/s configuration and implementation.

You'll probably need more than one book to learn everything you need for the exam. I'm already shopping around for additional material.

I really like SQL Server (ok, I'm a geek, I know) but this book seems to suck all of the fun out of it. I find it really dry and it has made the subject boring.

Aside from all of the above, most of the content is quite good. I am learning from it, slowly, and I've already picked up on things that I can use in my day to day role.

Consider this book to be more of a lengthy syllabus with a few exercises and some practice tests thrown in for good measure and you won't be disappointed.

You will be disappointed if you think you're going to enjoy this book, that it is a 'bible' type textbook containing everything you need to know or that it will make learning the material straight-forward. In short, it doesn't.

If you're an absolute beginner, think twice before buying this book. You'll probably think the learning curve is very steep, and the book itself might put you off unless you're determined to learn the content.

This isn't the first MS Press book which I've found to be like this. I wonder if it is a deliberate ploy by Microsoft to encourage you to go on the official course.
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on 29 November 2012
As a seasoned SQL developer under pressure to handle more administration I took the opportunity to brush up on such things and learn about SQL 2012 at the same time. The book covers pretty much all of the topics in a typical Microsoft boilerplate structure. The first part of the book is dedicated to setting up the practice installations and sadly this is full of little errors - nothing that should slow anyone down as common sense should quickly overcome the problems but keeping a close eye on the book's online errata will pay dividends. There are a few quite serious mistakes that need to be noted but if you keep the errata site to hand you should find the correct details with ease.

The key subject matter itself is covered in reasonable depth with clear step-by-step examples but the it can be rather dry at times and keeping focus tricky as it just doesn't flow thanks to constant references to online supplementary material that needs reading. Only the most dedicated sql geek would simply read through even a single chapter without taking a break. The merciful presence of an electronic version of the book included on the CD makes switching between the book and the live web material much easier and less distracting.

Add in the practice exam questions and a discount on the exam and the book literally pays for itself making it very hard not to justify it as ideal if you are going to take the exam - it could just be a little more friendly, especially to the less experienced SQL user.
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on 5 November 2012
I am near the end of the book. I should admit that it is a good book! it gives you what you need to make the best of the information available. It cannot give everything ready made, and that perhaps makes the reader to think more; and there are good references to topics that you may need in details which it may make the book a reference book, too.

Do not let the beginning of the book put you off. It will ask you to create 4 virtual servers, one of them core.
They are not really needed, apart from core, which even core is not needed. Nevertheless it forced me to learn more about core OS setting up; e.g. static IP, powershell,, renaming,...which is not covered in the book.

Nevertheless i found the book, after nearly finishing it, which i seldom do if am not intending to do exam, very informative; not only related to SQL server but also the server performance related monitoring tasks.

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on 3 January 2013
I am am currently going through the process of obtaining the new MCSE in Sql Server BI and bouhgt this book as at time of writing it was the only offical course text available for any of the 5 exams required. I have been using SQL Server for over 10 yeqars so am pretty comfortable with the product. I bought this book as a crach course on the stuff I knew nothing about (eg Clustering, High Availability, Replication and SQL Agent) and refresher on everything else. This book is well written and gave me everything I needed to pass the exam. The first part of the book talks about setting up a virtual lab with domain controller, and 5 SQL Server installations but if you are comfortable with earlier versions of SQL Server and know your way around management studio then you wont need to do all this. It is worth having at least one installation you can use though as some of the exercises are worth performing.
On the whole I'd recommend this book for anyone wanting to learn about the new features of SQL Server 2012 particulary with a view to passing the exam this book is targeted at.
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on 20 February 2014
Passed the exam first time round using this as my main source.

I have been working with SQL Server (mainly 2005) on back end development for several years but was unfamiliar with 2012 until purchasing this book.

After installing the evaluation edition as directed by the book and working diligently through the lessons I was able to pass the exam.

I would say that the tests included are not as hard as the exam ones and not as good as some others available. My secondary source of SQL 2012 info was a different set of tests I downloaded and paid for (also well worth it).

Be aware that the format of the exam is different from the exam questions you get here or are likely to download from elsewhere. Some to the actual exam questions have dozens of answers to select from and others involve dragging and dropping the correct instructions or script segments in the correct order.

You should be getting near 100% on these sort of tests provided with this kit before you consider taking the exam.

SQL 2012 is represents a major upgrade of Microsoft SQL and although some of the features may seen daunting at first, they have the potential to make a developers job much easier once familiarity with them has been gained. I think that, for most SQL developers, especially those of us who have not received structured training, it is fair to say that this book, if worked through diligently, will make you a better SQL developer not only in regard to the new features of 2012 but in general.

This book will remain a valuable reference source and aide memoire long after passing the exam and is a very good guide to getting the most out of some of the very impressive features available only in SQL 2012.
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on 28 August 2013
I read it cover to cover prior to taking the exam and also ran through most of the test questions on the CD. As others have pointed out, the book by itself is not sufficient preparation for the exam. Some experience is a must (I was a MSSQL DBA ~3 years before taking the exam).

Taking the book purely on its own merit, it was very easy to read and digest and highlighted areas where I was weak. It links to a lot of online material, which I would recommend reading in addition.
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on 11 March 2014
I'm writing this on the same day that I passed 70-463. Having previously used the other 2 ms training books to study and help to pass 70-461 and 70-462 I can now happily call myself a mcsa in sql server 2012. Without these books I would have never passed the exams but likewise I couldn't have passed by just using the books. The books help to give a grounding in the subject matter and I'm sure I'll now use them a reference as the exercises are very clear 'how to' guides . The measure-up questions help with drilling in key concepts but again these are not questions that really help in the exam.
It took me 6 weeks to read each book and complete the exercises ( never bothered with the case studies). 1 week to ace the measure-up test questions. 2 weeks of studying MS TechNet .... So 9 weeks per book.

Out if all the 3 training kits , 70-463 had the most errata but I'm not surprised given the bigger topics and concepts this book has to cover ( the o'reily website lists the errata so it's worth checking before starting each lesson). Out of the three, 70-463 was the most interesting, 70-461 the most straightforward and 70-462 the least interesting ( the pure DBA topics in 70-462 just didn't float my boat)
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on 22 January 2013
This book is littered with both typographical and factual errors which means that you need to keep referring to the online errata. The book is not a complete treatment of the subject - there are many 'More Info' boxes with links to Microsoft web sites to learn further information required to pass the exam. Many of these links are incorrect and many of the hyperlinks in the PDF version of the book (on the CD) are broken due to formatting, e.g. when a link spans more than one line. The style is dry and poorly worded in many instances e.g. "You can also start an instance that has been shut down by SQL Server Audit in Single User mode." which gets in the way of understanding the subject matter.

All in all, it's taking a while for me to plough through the book and I am not confident that when I get to the end, I will have the knowledge to pass the exam.

Time for plan B...
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on 20 October 2012
I am currently working my way through this book in preparation for exam 70-462. I have just passed the equivalent 2008 exam using the previous MS Press Training Kit and it's difficult not to compare the two books. I am finding the 2012 version to be a welcome and much needed improvement. The much derided "real world" stories have been discarded and instead the book takes a more structured approach to each subject, explaining the important concepts concisely and covering the basic commands more thoroughly. I can't yet say that this book alone is enough to pass the exam... but in my opinion it is an excellent Training Kit.
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on 12 July 2013
A fantastic reference guide for those intending to take Microsoft exam 70-462: Administering Microsoft SQL Server 2012. Being extra-keen, I did actually read the book cover to cover and used the exam simulator with the attached CD to measure my learning. But..
- the material is necessary but probably not sufficient to pass the Microsoft exam. There are lots of references in the book to white papers and other articles on the internet and it is recommended to dive in and take a look at those as well;
- the preparation recommended in terms of setting up a server infrastructure consisting of a domain controller and four member servers is probably unnecessary as many of the examples can be performed on just one server without needing to use the entire infrastructure. A tip is that you can use the example virtual labs setup by Microsoft at [...] for running some of the exercises without needing your own infrastructure;
- there are definitely some quality issues with the testing material (Measure Up). I found some "bugs" in the answers to the exam questions and had this verified by a Microsoft Approved Trainer;
- it is recommended (if you can) to attend the Microsoft Course 10775A Administering Microsoft SQL Server 2012 that provides plenty of reinforcement of the points learned in the book and lots of other practical information to prepare for the exam. It is all too easy to gloss over some facts in the book without realising their true significance. All this should become clear after you have attended the training course.
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