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In previous versions of SharePoint, I've always been able to find a one-stop-shop Microsoft Help file that provided all the neccessary details and specific steps to install or upgrade SharePoint. With the release of SharePoint 2013 - I can't seem to find a guide of this type (the closet I've come is the 674-page deployment .PDF).

Does anyone know if they created simple, straightforward documentation for installing this software and, if so, where I can find it?

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I guess you already saw the eBook: Deployment guide for SharePoint 2013 which is, by memory, around that amount of page but if you read it carefully, you just need to fully read a couple of chapters as they are describing all kind of farm implementation (from the standalone with built-in database to a multi tiers production ready farm) and services setup. It's currently the recommended guide as it covers nearly everything we need to know right now. (edit : and you can access each scenario through this page : which will be less impressive than the 600+ pages guide !)

That's the guide that I used to deploy my first SharePoint 2013 production farm (in a medical environment) with great success.

For simpler scenarii, you can trust these guides, although they are more limited in their content :

And finally, to have an environment up & running (but developer oriented) you can fully trust the CriticalPath guide :

And don't forget the invaluable project that will help you setting up your farm and doing most of the hard work for you.

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