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When you pick up a 904-page book, one of the first questions you ask yourself is "When can I put this puppy back down?"
For me, the answer in the case of "Windows 7: The Missing Manual" was that I couldn't put it down for two hours, because I was sitting in front of my computer at the time, with the book in my lap, and every time I turned a page I found another great new idea that I wanted to try. This went on for 172 fun-filled pages (yes, you read that correctly) before I took a break.
Let me back up and put this in perspective: I've been using Windows almost exactly 18 years, since Windows 3.1 was released in April of 1992, and I've been among the very first to try each new version of Windows since then. I've taught Windows courses. Most of the people I know consider me to be a power user of Windows. I don't necessarily agree with them, but I certainly consider myself to be comfortable with Windows, and I've never found myself thinking that I wish David Pogue would drop by and kick my productivity up a notch or two. (Besides, when someone drops by and starts kicking things, isn't there a chance you could get hurt?)
A little more perspective: I've been working in Windows 7 for several months now, and so I already knew that Windows 7 is not only the most powerful but also the fastest, most visually appealing, most user-friendly version of Windows ever released.
Yet while working my way through the first 172 pages of "The Missing Manual," I discovered dozens of new refinements in Windows and dozens of new, faster ways of doing things that until then had escaped my notice.
I think most readers can look forward to a similar experience, because the first 172 pages of the book describe techniques that everyone can benefit from, no matter what kind of work they are engaged in. This is where you'll learn surprising new ways to exploit the power of the Start menu, the Taskbar, and Windows Explorer, plus new ways to search and organize your files.
If you're thinking, "Great, because I'm new to Windows and I don't even recognize the terms you're using, much less how to do those things," then I can offer you the following reassurance: This book is highly illustrated. It is clearly written. It is entertainingly written. It will show you and tell you what you need to know.
If (as is more likely) you're thinking, "I already know how to do those things," then I invite you to think again: Of course you know how to do those things! Who doesn't? But these are some of the most common tasks you perform on your computer. You perform them hundreds if not thousands of times a day, day after day, week after week. What if you could perform them better and faster? What if you could perform them way better and way faster?
Everything I've said so far actually applies to pages 172 - 209, too, which pages cover changing the visual appearance of the Windows desktop and getting help from the Help system or from a user at a remote computer (whether down the hall or around the world) or from Microsoft.
The remaining 700 pages of the book are astonishingly comprehensive (and the writing is just as clear and just as engaging as the writing at the beginning), but few readers will want to bother reading every single chapter. Instead, this is the point at which you will return to the table of contents and pick and choose the chapters that matter to you. Later, you're likely to dip into specific sections as needed, guided by the excellent index. Major subject areas: Software included with Windows 7; Online Services; Pictures, Music, and Television; Hardware and Peripherals; and Networking (including the all-new, easy-to-use Homegroups).
A lot of people contributed ideas and expertise to this book. Their names are listed inside, but it is David Pogue's name on the cover, and whether by remote control or some other mysterious means, Pogue is the one who orchestrated the effort to produce the book. The results are superb. This is easily one of the most comprehensive and most readable books available on Windows 7. Even after spending just two hours with it, you'll be amazed at the power you've gained.
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This is a hefty book which covers all aspects of the Windows 7 operating system. The introduction provides several pages on what's new in Windows 7, and a sidebar offering advice on how to transition from Windows XP. More than just an operator's manual, you will also get the author's insights and opinions on the many applets (small applications) included. You will get to appreciate the author's style, which is straightforward, with a little irony and humor thrown in.
Early on, author David Pogue advises the reader to get Windows Live Update, a rather large download which contains the email program, Internet Explorer, and Photo Gallery, among other things. The book then covers the basics of manipulating windows, and goes into coverage of Media Center, Internet Explorer Windows Live Mail, and Photo Gallery, all of which are heavily used, and the new feature called Device Stage.
We learn that Device Stage was designed for plug-in devices, such as a digital camera, which presents a dialog box with specific information. For a camera, for example, the dialog box displays the number of photos to be downloaded, and how much space remains on the memory card. You can then perform a specific action by clicking the appropriate entry--such as downloading the photos to your PC. While device manufacturers have been writing this kind of software for some years now, Device Stage provides a standard format, so you don't have to puzzle out the interface every time you plug in a new device.
Chapter 10, Internet Security, covers web browsing. We all know about anti-virus software, but these days internet security involves a lot more. There is spyware, root kits, phony web sites, and other forms of evil software out there that can steal your ID, credit card numbers, bank accounts, and so on. Get some insight on all this from author David Pogue, who discusses all the counter-measures you can take to avoid being hit.
Valuable information in Chapter, 18, Hardware, covers how to interface additional devices to your PC, such as hard drives or scanners, and installing additional PC cards, such as network cards and modems. If you have installed a new device in your system and can't get it to work, you need to go to Chapter 18, Hardware, which outlines the steps you need to take to make the thing work.
No individual user will want or need all the apps that come with Windows 7--you might well do without the games, for example, or in my case, making video DVDs. This allows you to skip over pages and sections which don't apply to you (I skipped over Windows DVD Maker and Windows Live Movie Maker).
Don't overlook access to the web site at [...]. There you will find practice files, down loadable software, and every web address mentioned in the book. You also get access to the online edition of the book.
Summary. I have merely touched upon a few things which caught my interest-- the book covers a great deal more. Author David Pogue has provided a comprehensive manual for Windows 7, in a clear and readable style, with sufficient detail for even the most advanced users. This is a comprehensive book of 887 pages, with 27 chapters in eight parts, and 4 Appendixes. If you are serious about learning Windows 7, get this book.