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Books I Never Wrote

Sometimes, saying no is the right decision

I’ve written or co-written over 25 books about Windows and other technologies. But there are a number of books I tentatively agreed to write but then backed out of, and other books I wanted to write but never got around to. Here are some of them.

I (re)discovered my old book archives when destroying optical disc backups as outlined in Zero Data: The Hardest Part is Saying Goodbye. I have a hard time saying no, apparently. But I’m glad I did sometimes.

ASP: VBScript for the World Wide Web 2E

In 1996, I wrote a great little book for PeachPit called VBScript for the World Wide Web, though it would never have been as good as it was if it weren’t for my Big Tend cohort Adam Ray. PeachPit apparently wanted a follow-up, so I began work on something called “ASP: VBScript for the World Wide Web, Second Edition,” which would have been about Active Server Pages (ASP), or server-side VBScript, instead of the client-side stuff found in the original book.

The TOC (table of contents) for this book included:



Chapter 1: ASP/VBScript Basics

Chapter 2: Working with VBScript Subroutines

Chapter 3: VBScript Loops and Conditionals

Chapter 4: Using Forms

Chapter 5: Using Objects

Chapter 6: Using Server Objects

Chapter 7: ASP Components

Chapter 8: Accessing a Database from ASP

Chapter 9: Advanced Database Techniques

Chapter 10: Creating a Web-Based Database Front-End

Appendix A: What you need for your version of Windows

Appendix B: ASP Resources on the Web



I’m glad I never wrote this book, as it would have sold about 600 copies.

IIS 5.0 Book

A lot of my early books were software development titles, and while I’m sure I would have tilted this one in that direction, I never got the chance. Thank God.

Mastering Windows .NET Web Server/Serving the Web with Windows Server 2003

Windows Server 2003 was briefly called Windows .NET Server, among other things, during Microsoft’s spastic (but temporary) .NET naming spree of the early 2000’s. Why I would want to write a book dedicated to just one Windows Server SKU is unclear, but it didn’t get very far. That said, I did contribute to something called Serving the Web with Windows Server 2003, and unless I’m looking at this wrong I apparently wrote an entire chapter about IIS 6.0 for this.

IIS is often thought of purely as Web server software, but in reality it’s much more powerful and feature rich than that. IIS is, instead, a complete platform for deploying and managing applications via the World Wide Web (Web). It’s designed to accommodate Web and File Transfer Protocol (FTP) sites, yes, but also full-featured Web applications built on more modern technologies such as ASP .NET, XML Web services, and Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP); intelligent intranet-based Web portals for collaboration and communications; and other advanced features that make simple Web and FTP serving seem almost passé. It's a desert topping and a floor wax.


Windows XP book for Prentice Hall

My earliest books were educational titles aimed at the college market. I wrote/co-wrote books for Windows 95, Windows 98, and Windows NT 4.0, as well as for topics such as Visual Basic 3, 4, and 6, and Excel. By the time Windows XP shipped I had kind of moved on from this area, but Prentice Hall contacted me about the possibility of doing a Windows XP title. A few of my notes from this book, which never happened:

Prentice Hall very style laden

A lot of busy work

Hands-on approach

Targeted at continuing education market

Academic institution, corporate institution

Most people are using NT or 2000 ... NT platform

I was probably right to skip out on this. I also declined an offer that year from Tim O’Reilly to do a book about Windows Me.

Teach Yourself Windows 2000 Server

This one is interesting because I actually got pretty far into it and then it fell apart, though I can’t recall why. But since the book was never published, I used some of the completed chapters as articles for the SuperSite. One of the weird things about the style used by this book was that each chapter had to have a “personal workbook” at the end. Here’s an example:

Personal Workbook

Q & A

1. Windows 2000 is a successor to which operating system?

2. Why is this product named Windows 2000?

3. What are the members of the Windows 2000 Server family?

4. What were the design goals for Windows NT?

5. What were the design goals for Windows 2000?

6. How long was the Windows 2000 beta?

7. How is Windows 2000 more reliable than previous versions of Windows?

8. In what ways is Windows 2000 more easily managed than previous versions of Windows?

Windows 2002 Unleashed

Windows 2002 is another one of the early names for what became Windows Server 2003. If I’m reading my notes right, this would have been a multi-author title with 7 authors. But rather than the usual breakdown, where each person takes certain chapters, we apparently divided it up where each person had individual sections inside of chapters. So one chapter listing looks like this:

Introducing Whistler

[Paul] [Nate - contribute] 1. Whistler backgrounder

                History, architecture, what's new

                Enterprise Memory Architecture/PAE

[Nate] 2. The Whistler clients

                Personal, Pro, UI overview, Control Panel, Offline Folders, speech, etc.

[Keith] [Joe] [Brian] 3. Understanding Active Directory

                Directory services, AD intro, what it does, why it's here, how it works

[Keith] [Joe] 4. Planning a Whistler rollout

                Planning domains, AD namespaces, server types, licensing

Looks cumbersome. I’m not surprised it never happened.

Windows Everywhere

Arguably my most interesting idea for a book that never happened, Windows Everywhere was going to be my industry book, a Showstopper-like title that was going to document Microsoft’s revolution of Windows with “Longhorn.” I have long harbored a weird desire to write this kind of book, and, who knows? Maybe someday. Certainly, Microsoft’s recent moves with Windows 8/RT/Phone make the title a bit prescient.

Windows XP Secrets

Hungry Minds, which is now Wiley, contacted me in 2002-2003 about writing a second edition of Windows XP Secrets, as they weren’t too excited by how the original book came out. I was excited by the Longhorn stuff by then and wasn’t too keen on taking a step back to XP, so I told them I’d only write it if I could write Longhorn Secrets too. As it turns out, the original Secrets author, Brian Livingston—who had opted out of XP Secrets for some reason—had just contacted them about writing that book, so I called Brian and we worked together on two editions of what became Windows Vista Secrets.

My short-lived plan for Windows XP Secrets was to involve a few co-authors to help lighten the load. But we never wrote more than a fairly complete and hefty, Secrets-style TOC (this is just the chapter titles):


Windows XP Secrets

Front Matter

1.            Read.Me

2.            Upgrading to Windows XP

•             Step-By-Step Upgrading

3.            Installation

4.            Automating Installation

5.            Optional Components

6.            Updating the System

7.            Hardware and Software Setup and Configuration

8.            Disaster Recovery

9.            Getting Help and Support

10.          What's New in Windows XP

11.          Users and Profiles

12.          Using the Windows Desktop

13.          Visual Styles and Color Schemes

14.          Customizing the System

15.          Hacking the Registry

16.          Navigation and Organization

17.          My Music

18.          My Pictures

19.          My Videos

20.          Modems

21.          Dialup Networking

22.          Internet Explorer 6

23.          Outlook Express

24.          MSN Explorer

25.          Passport and .NET

26.          Windows Messenger

27.          Web Publishing

28.          Networking Basics

29.          Installing Networking Hardware

30.          Internet Connection Firewall

31.          Connection Sharing and Network Bridging

32.          Wireless Networking

33.          Remote Desktop Connection

34.          Control Panel

35.          MMC and other System Management Tools

36.          Administrative Tools

37.          Group Policy

38.          Managing Drives and Partitions

39.          Task Scheduler

40.          Windows XP Laptop Features

41.          Files and Settings Transfer Wizard

42.          Fun and Games

43.          Using Digital Cameras and Scanners

44.          Windows Media Player for Windows XP

45.          Making Movies


I have no idea what I was thinking. This is so ponderous, I have to imagine the publisher was looking for something in the 1500 page realm.

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