New book: Windows Internals, Seventh Edition, Part 1

We’re happy to announce the availability of Windows Internals, 7th Edition, Part 1: System architecture, processes, threads, memory management, and more (ISBN 9780735684188), by Pavel Yosifovich, Alex Ionescu, Mark E. Russinovich, and David A. Solomon.

Purchase from these online retailers:

Microsoft Press Store
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The definitive guide—fully updated for Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016

Delve inside Windows architecture and internals, and see how core components work behind the scenes. Written by a team of internals experts, this classic guide has been fully updated for Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016. Whether you are a developer or an IT professional, this book gives you critical, insider perspectives on how Windows operates. And through hands on experiments, you’ll experience its internal behavior for yourself—gaining knowledge you can apply to improve application design, debugging, system performance, and support.

This book will help you:

  • Understand Windows system architecture and its most important entities, such as processes and threads
  • Examine how processes manage resources and threads scheduled for execution inside processes
  • Observe how Windows manages virtual and physical memory
  • Dig into the Windows I/O system and see how device drivers work and integrate with the rest of the system
  • Go inside the Windows security model to see how it manages access, auditing, and authorization, and learn about the new mechanisms in Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016

Contents at a glance

Chapter 1   Concepts and tools

Chapter 2   System architecture

Chapter 3   Processes and jobs

Chapter 4   Threads

Chapter 5   Memory management

Chapter 6   I/O system

Chapter 7   Security


Windows Internals, Seventh Edition is intended for advanced computer professionals (developers, security researchers, and system administrators) who want to understand how the core components of the Microsoft Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016 operating systems work internally. With this knowledge, developers can better comprehend the rationale behind design choices when building applications specific to the Windows platform. Such knowledge can also help developers debug complex problems. System administrators can benefit from this information as well, because understanding how the operating system works “under the hood” facilitates an understanding of the performance behavior of the system and makes troubleshooting system problems much easier when things go wrong. Security researchers can figure out how software applications and the operating system can misbehave and be misused, causing undesirable behavior, while also understanding the mitigations and security features modern Windows offers against such scenarios. After reading this book, you should have a better understanding of how Windows works and why it behaves as it does.

History of the book

This is the seventh edition of a book that was originally called Inside Windows NT (Microsoft Press, 1992), written by Helen Custer (prior to the initial release of Microsoft Windows NT 3.1). Inside Windows NT was the first book ever published about Windows NT and provided key insights into the architecture and design of the system. Inside Windows NT, Second Edition (Microsoft Press, 1998) was written by David Solomon. It updated the original book to cover Windows NT 4.0 and had a greatly increased level of technical depth.

Inside Windows 2000, Third Edition (Microsoft Press, 2000) was authored by David Solomon and Mark Russinovich. It added many new topics, such as startup and shutdown, service internals, registry internals, file-system drivers, and networking. It also covered kernel changes in Windows 2000, such as the Windows Driver Model (WDM), Plug and Play, power management, Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI), encryption, the job object, and Terminal Services. Windows Internals, Fourth Edition (Microsoft Press, 2004) was the Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 update and added more content focused on helping IT professionals make use of their knowledge of Windows internals, such as using key tools from Windows SysInternals and analyzing crash dumps.

Windows Internals, Fifth Edition (Microsoft Press, 2009) was the update for Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008. It saw Mark Russinovich move on to a full-time job at Microsoft (where he is now the Azure CTO) and the addition of a new co-author, Alex Ionescu. New content included the image loader, user-mode debugging facility, Advanced Local Procedure Call (ALPC), and Hyper-V. The next release, Windows Internals, Sixth Edition (Microsoft Press, 2012), was fully updated to address the many kernel changes in Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2, with many new hands-on experiments to reflect changes in the tools as well.

Seventh edition changes

Since this book’s last update, Windows has gone through several releases, coming up to Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016. Windows 10 itself, being the current going forward name for Windows, has had several releases since its initial release to manufacturing (RTM). Each is labeled with a four-digit version number indicating the year and month of release, such as Windows 10, version 1703, which was completed in March 2017. This implies that Windows has gone through at least six versions since Windows 7 (at the time of this writing).

Starting with Windows 8, Microsoft began a process of OS convergence, which is beneficial from a development perspective as well as for the Windows engineering team. Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 had converged kernels, with modern app convergence arriving in Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1. The convergence story was complete with Windows 10, which runs on desktops/laptops, servers, XBOX One, phones (Windows Mobile 10), HoloLens, and various Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

With this grand unification completed, the time was right for a new edition of the series, which could now finally catch up with almost half a decade of changes in what will now be a more stable kernel architecture going forward. As such, this latest book covers aspects of Windows from Windows 8 to Windows 10, version 1703. Additionally, this edition welcomes Pavel Yosifovich as its new co-author.

Topics not covered

Windows is a large and complex operating system. This book doesn’t cover everything relevant to Windows internals but instead focuses on the base system components. For example, this book doesn’t describe COM+, the Windows distributed object-oriented programming infrastructure, or the Microsoft .NET Framework, the foundation of managed code applications. Because this is an “internals” book and not a user, programming, or system-administration book, it doesn’t describe how to use, program, or configure Windows.

A warning and a caveat

Because this book describes undocumented behavior of the internal architecture and the operation of the Windows operating system (such as internal kernel structures and functions), this content is subject to change between releases.

By “subject to change,” we don’t necessarily mean that details described in this book will change between releases, but you can’t count on them not changing. Any software that uses these undocumented interfaces, or insider knowledge about the operating system, might not work on future releases of Windows. Even worse, software that runs in kernel mode (such as device drivers) and uses these undocumented interfaces might experience a system crash when running on a newer release of Windows, resulting in potential loss of data to users of such software.

In short, you should never use any internal Windows functionality, registry key, behavior, API, or other undocumented detail mentioned in this book during the development of any kind of software designed for end-user systems, or for any other purpose other than research and documentation. Always check with the Microsoft Software Development Network (MSDN) for official documentation on a particular topic first.

About the Authors

Pavel Yosifovich is a developer, trainer, and author specializing in Microsoft technologies and tools. He is a Microsoft MVP and a Pluralsight author, and loves all things software. Pavel has been around since the days of 8-bit machines and still looks back fondly on his programming days on his Commodore 64.

Alex Ionescu is Vice President of EDR Strategy at CrowdStrike and an internationally recognized expert in low-level system software, operating system research and kernel development, security training, and reverse engineering. He teaches Windows Internals courses around the world and is active in the security research community through conference talks and bug bounty programs.

Mark Russinovich is Chief Technology Officer for Microsoft Azure, Microsoft’s global enterprise-grade cloud platform. Mark is a widely recognized expert in distributed systems and operating systems. He co-founded Winternals Software and joined Microsoft in 2006 when it was acquired. He is the primary author of the Sysinternals tools and website, which include dozens of popular Windows administration and diagnostic utilities.

David Solomon (retired) taught Windows kernel internals for 20 years to developers and IT professionals worldwide, including at Microsoft. His first book was Windows NT for OpenVMS Professionals. He then authored Inside Windows NT, 2nd edition, and later, with Mark Russinovich, coauthored the 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th editions of the Windows Internals series. David has spoken at many Microsoft conferences and was a recipient of the 1993 and 2005 Microsoft Support Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award.