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8 Days a Week: Consumer Preview Week Two, Major Book Update

With the initial rush of excitement over the release of the Windows 8 Consumer Preview finally starting to slowly wear out, we can look back at our second week with a nearly feature complete version of the OS. And since I've completed some serious writing on Windows 8 Secrets, it's time for an update on the book as well.


Consumer Preview week 2 coverage on the SuperSite


While I lacked the super-human strength necessary to duplicate the crazy amount of Windows 8 Consumer Preview coverage I provided at launch in week 2, I wasn't exactly asleep at the switch either. That said, after initially planning to settle into a concentrated period of pragmatic, "how-to" coverage, a ton of misguided feedback via email and Twitter caused me to somewhat prematurely address my opinions about Windows 8 in a set of editorials. So I'll be back with more how-to coverage next week, including the afore-promised deeper dives into individual apps.

But here's a peek at the coverage I provided in our second week with the Consumer Preview.




Windows 8 Consumer Preview: Does This Even Make Sense?

It's a bit earlier than I'd like, but let's discuss the central issue at the heart of Windows 8, which features dual--or even dueling--user experiences in Metro and the desktop. Does such a two-headed hydra even make sense? Or are we just over-thinking this?


Windows 8 Consumer Preview: A Call for Common Sense

Based on the feedback I've seen on Twitter and via email, many so-called power users are focusing mostly on silly little issues with the Windows 8 Consumer Preview. Folks, Windows is changing. It's time to grow up, accept it, and stop trying to reverse the clock.




Windows 8 Tip: Edit the Power User Tasks Menu

Think you're a Windows 8 power user? Well, then you're going to want to know about this tip, which lets you edit the power user tasks menu that appears when you right-click the new Start thumbnail tip.


Windows 8 App Showcase: Amazon Kindle

Microsoft this morning released its first batch of new Windows 8 apps to the Windows Store, fulfilling a promise to add new apps over time. Key among the new entries, of course, is one of my own most eagerly awaited apps, for the Amazon Kindle eBook reader


What Does Windows 8 Offer to IT Pros?

Microsoft released the long-awaited Windows 8 Consumer Preview last week. Learn what Windows 8 has to offer businesses.


Windows 8 Consumer Preview: Install Windows 8 on a Mac

With the Windows 8 Consumer Preview out in the world, I'm seeing a lot of excitement from Mac users who are suddenly regretting their expensive side-trip to the Apple side of the computing fence. Have no fear, unhappy Mac users. Windows 8 will work on your computer too.


Microsoft Device Center Beta for Windows 8 Consumer Preview

This is interesting. Microsoft released a beta version of a new management interface for its keyboards and mice. Dubbed the Microsoft Device Center, this software runs only on the Windows 8 Consumer Preview and provides a hint, perhaps, at the future of device management on Windows.


8 Is Enough: Up and Running on the Consumer Preview

After running the Windows 8 Developer Preview on my daily-use desktop for over four months, I was ready for a change. And this past weekend, I got that change, with the Windows 8 Consumer Preview. I'm now using this version of Windows on all of my PCs. Here's how I transformed my desktop.


Windows 8 Consumer Preview: The Netbook Experience

While installing Microsoft's latest operating system on a netbook may seem like throwing good money after bad, Windows 8 still offers some advantages even on these lowly PCs. Here's a guide to what you can expect to gain--and lose--by using Windows 8 on a netbook.


Some Thoughts About the Windows 8 System Recommendations

There have been a few misunderstandings about the Windows 8 system requirements and recommendations and how they relate to those for Windows 7. Let's review.


Windows 8 Secrets


I've written a bit in the past about Windows 8 Secrets, the book that Rafael Rivera and I are writing and plan to deliver day and date, as we say, with the general availability of Microsoft's next operating system. Primary writing of the book is occurring in March and April, and our first deliverables are due at the end of the week. Given that, I'd like to briefly discuss the structure of the book and what's being written first.


The trouble with such an undertaking, of course, is that we need to write about a product, Windows 8, that isn't done yet. With a bit of guidance from the Windows team and our own common sense, however, we've tried to structure our submissions so that we cover the technologies that are closest to completion first, with an understanding from the publishing company that we will be going in and making changes at the Release Candidate (RC) milestone and, if needed, at RTM. I'm going to schedule a trip to Redmond to visit as many people as possible sometime in the near future as well, with the goal of buttoning down details for the book only.


With the release of the Consumer Preview, however, real work can and has begun. Where we had spaced out our expected chapters down to Level 1 and Level 2 heads in the past, and I'd begun writing background material for several of the chapters, the Consumer Preview triggered yet another reassessment of the structure of the book. So in a marathon session last week, Rafael and I went over everything yet again and re-did the Table of Contents (TOC) for the book for what I expect to be the final time.


(Well. Things will always change. But I think the structure we have in place now is very close to final, much like the Consumer Preview itself.)


I won't be writing about the exact breakdown of the chapter list for competitive reasons--those trying to write Windows 8 books of their own will need to do so without our help--but I can say that the book is divided now into 16 chapters in five sections. And those sections are Getting Started (2 chapters), Getting to Know Windows 8 (4 chapters), App Experiences (5 chapters), Tools of the Trade (3 chapters) and Putting Windows to Work (2 chapters).


We have four submission deadlines spread out over April and May, and the first is coming up. We need to submit four chapters, with screenshots, at each deadline. Again, we'll be editing everything afterwards, and I expect to re-do a lot of screenshots in particular. But this schedule allows the editing team at Wiley to get to work early as well so we're ready for the release, no matter when it comes.


Everything in the book is new material. Everything. Not a sentence is being carried over from previous books, though you will see some structural similarities, especially if you're familiar with Windows Phone Secrets, which was also all-new material. Our assumption this time around is that you know how to use Windows. So you just want the new stuff. And it's all new.


Given our goal for this book to come in at a more reasonable 500 pages--where Windows 7 Secrets was well over 1000 pages long--you can do a bit of math and arrive at the fact that each chapter needs to be about 30 pages long. (And the front matter and other material will make up the slack.) So I have this vague notion that each chapter should be roughly 30 pages long.


Of the four chapters I expect to complete this week, one is very much done, and it's no secret, I suppose, for me to note that it's about the new desktop features in Windows 8. This chapter, alas, is currently 42 pages long, well over the 30 page average I'm expecting, and, worse, is so chock full of screenshots I'm almost embarrassed to reveal the number. But it's over 50. I may need to cut.


Here's a fun look at this chapter in Microsoft Word:




Now, I understand that not every chapter will be this huge. But I'm already worried that I will overshoot the 500 page goal by a wide margin and we'll deliver yet another tome that could kill you if you fell asleep while reading the paper version. I'll try to reign it in, and will of course keep tracking this as subsequent chapters are finished.


On the flipside, I'm impressed that there's so much to write about. Even in these early chapters, and more broadly across the entire TOC and expanded topic lists we made, there's just a well-spring of new information. This is but one way to know that Windows 8 is indeed a major new version of Windows and a major change from the past. But for us, it's just plain exciting. Not only is there a lot to discuss about Windows 8, but it's interesting stuff. It's fair to say that both Rafael and I live for these times, I think. The downtime between Windows versions is just dreary by comparison.


Anyway, my schedule through the end of April is pretty much set, and I'll be writing some of this book every single day during this time. It's a schedule I understand, and it's been easy and familiar slipping back into it. In fact, I'll be working on the book as soon as I post this article.


More next week.

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