There are many compelling reasons to get a copy of Powershell in Action (2nd Edition) but I will cover the important few. This is a great book currently in the MEAP process at Manning, and I believe, is pretty much near completion.
Before I talk about the book, a brief technical background about my interest in the subject matter. I am currently with an IT group focusing mostly on software development and High Performance computing. We are starting to deploy quite a few Windows 2008 R2 servers and gradually rolling out Windows 7. We manage desktops outside of Microsoft suite of system administration capabilities and rely mostly on Novell products. So I quite often get requests from my colleagues to write scripts to help configure desktop systems and remotely deploy applications.
So, the first reason to buy this book. It is written by Bruce Payette, a key person in the Powershell Team. Bruce is a great writer. The text is fluid, detailed and at times, humourous. You will find many useful quotes and codes! Well, the latter is more useful. I especially like the breakdowns telling you what each segment of a command does. You'll see a lot of this in DB2 and Oracle documentation that describe intricate SQL statements.
On to the second reason. Like many Manning ebooks that have successive editions, you get free access to the older versions. You might wonder how useful that is, but consider this: Windows Server 2008 (the first release) and Vista still use Powershell v1. Hence if you are managing a heterogeneous environment containing both Windows 2008 and Windows 2008 R2, you might still want to keep the 1st edition for reference... just in case.
Now the meat... the book is divided into two parts. The first part covers most of the fundamentals, similar to how most other introductory books are structured. The first seven chapters are probably sufficient for you to write your first useful script (after Helloworld). If you have more demanding needs, Bruce looks at how you can distribute code and perform magical tasks remotely. Chapters 14 and 15 provides you the necessary skills to not wanna tear out your hair when your script misbehaves.
As mentioned earlier, the author is very careful to describe textually, graphically and by example how things work in PowerShell. The amount of detail can sometimes make it rather dry to read, and that's why I particularly appreciate the occasional interjection of humour. Details are good.
Part 2 will probably be more useful to most, compared to earlier advanced topics discussed in Chapters 8 to 13... well, at least for me. Oh, and please read Chapter 21 on Security before you question and complain about why your scripts ain't running.
Last but not least, the Appendices. I have yet to receive them, but certainly looking forward to the much needed code samples (Appendix B) and quick reference sheets (Appendix C).
This review should come timely. During this holiday season, it is almost customary for Manning to be handing out free ebooks or at the very least, great discounts. This book deserves a 5/5 rating, so if you are keen on making Windows work harder for you, then this is a MUST read!