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Book Review: Windows 7: The Missing Manual by David Pogue

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After the disappointment that was Windows Vista, Microsoft spent a lot of time with its latest incarnation of PC based operating system working to make it more usable as well as more user friendly. The results have shown that Windows 7 has been very well received and ranks as one of the best reviewed versions in a long time.

In Windows 7: The Missing Manual, David Pogue, the creator of The Missing Manual series, now has put together all of the important stuff that you need to know about this new operating system. When you consider that Microsoft seldom includes more than a quick start pamphlet, this is truly the case of a missing manual that should have been in the box.

Not only is Windows 7 an update, it is the product that should have been released instead of Vista. That is, it keeps all the things that were good about Vista, and fixes what everyone hated about it. That is not to say that there aren’t new things as well. So Microsoft expects you to learn how all of these things work without a manual?

That is why Windows 7: The Missing Manual is here to the rescue. With humor, wit and a whole lot of style, David Pogue guides you through the maze of changes to get you up to speed with Windows 7. This book is divided into eight parts, twenty-seven chapters and four appendixes.

Part One, “The Windows 7 Desktop,” explores just that, the Windows 7 Desktop. While this area is similar to Vista, there are still many who have been using Windows XP and refused to upgrade, so this makes this an important section.

Pogue describes the fear the many experience when they first turn on Windows 7 if they have never used Vista. You will look at the desktop, start menu, the explorer, the taskbar, searching organizing, working with themes and how to find help when you need it.

Part Two, “Windows 7 Software,” explores the various programs, gadgets and freebie software that is included with Windows 7. He takes you through the control panel terminology hell. There are more icons than ever, and the author explains them all. He even shows you how to change it back in to classic view.

Part Three, “Windows 7 Online,” gets you hooked up to the internet and will explain much of the new security setups, Internet Explorer 8 and Windows Mail. In this section you will learn about everything that you need to get up and running online as well as working with the various Windows Live Services such as Live Calendar, Live Groups, Live Photos and more.

Part Four, “The Media Center,” introduces you to all things photo, movies and media. You start off with the Windows Live Photo Gallery where you can upload and tweak your images before you share them with the world. Next is Windows Media Player where you can listen to all of your favorite tunes. Then it is on to Windows Media center where you can play back videos or even watch TV if you have a tuner card.

Part Five, “Hardware and Peripherals,” gets you up to speed on faxing, printing and scanning as well as working with other external gadgets. He also explains about Windows 7 features for laptops, tablets and interfacing with Netbooks and Touchscreens.

Part Six, “PC Health,” examines maintenance and speed issues while working with Windows 7. Here you will learn how to maintain your hard drives, perform backups, restore your system, as well as troubleshooting your computer.

Part Seven, “The Windows 7 Network,” guides you through setting up user accounts, creating networks, domains and network sharing, as well as other topics aimed at building a system of interconnected PCs. There is also a chapter on remote control of your PC so that even when you are away from your computer, you can still maintain access to your system.

Part Eight contains the appendices. The first one guides you through installing Windows 7. He talks about what you need to do before you begin, dual booting and easy transfer. Appendix B, talks about the registry and working with regedit. Appendix C — entitled “Where’d it Go?” — describes what happened to many of the items that were removed or changed significantly. The final chapter is a master keyboard shortcut list.

Windows 7: The Missing Manual is really what a manual should be. I thought highly of the Vista version even though I never bought into the operating system ,and I think so of this one. You really have a complete manual that should have been in the box.

It contains enough detail that if there are features that are missing from a particular version, you are made aware, and it is detailed enough that those coming from both XP and Vista have information that will ease the transition.

If you are moving to Windows 7 — and I think you should — then you should positively, absolutely check out Windows 7: The Missing Manual. This is what I would call the missing manual. Unlike a manual, it is not boring, not a reference manual, and is meant to be read like a book. If you have Windows 7, then you should have Windows 7: The Missing Manual.

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About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.