Windows XP Book Reviews

In this first installment of Windows XP book reviews, I look at some of the first XP titles from Microsoft Press. I hope to have more soon, and if you're interested in seeing any particular titles reviewed, pleasecontact me.

Note that I've written my own XP book, Great Digital Media with Windows XP, as well.

 
  Windows XP Step-by Step Limited Edition
by Online Training Solutions
Microsoft Press, 2001

$19.99
Target Audience: Beginners
Extras: Full color limited edition, CD-ROM

Microsoft's Step by Step titles are designed for beginning home users, and feature hand holding chapters that work through specific, entry-level skills. This volume, now available in an attractive, limited edition, color version, is no different, offering up sections on XP basics, security, files and folders, hardware and software, making connections, and the like. The book can be read straight through, which I recommend for true beginners, or you can dig in anywhere and get right to the information you're most interested in.

Kudos to the authors for including security information so early in the book, as this is one of the biggest changes new XP users will face when upgrading. It is critical that Windows users begin thinking about security now that we live in an unsafe online world.

An accompanying CD-ROM includes practice files that are used with the step-by-step exercises that fill each chapter.

--Paul Thurrott
November 27, 2001

 


 

 

 
  Windows XP Plain & Simple
by Jerry Joyce and Marianne Moon
Microsoft Press, 2001

$19.99
Target Audience: Beginners
Extras: Printed in full color

Written for true novices, Windows XP Plain & Simple assumes almost nothing of the reader beyond being able to use a mouse and find particular keys on the keyboard. It's also written expressly for Home Edition, and correctly figures that its audience is probably not sophisticated enough to customize anything in the system on their own. As such, it's a great introduction to XP for beginners.

Plain & Simple is even designed around the way a PC neophyte would explore the new system: It starts off with real basics, like accessing documents, minimizing windows, and composing documents, then moves logically through chapters on running programs and playing games, exploring the Internet, sending email, working with pictures and movies, and so on. It doesn't offer a complete guide to any of these tasks, of course, but then it's not really designed to be a comprehensive reference.

My only real complaint is that security is given short thrift. Unlike Step by Step above, Plain & Simple doesn't tackle this important XP issue until late in the book.

--Paul Thurrott
November 27, 2001

 

 

 
  Step by Step Home Networking with Microsoft Windows XP
by Matthew Danda and Heather T. Brown
Microsoft Press, 2001

$19.99
Target Audience: Beginners

A relatively sparse title that covers only the basics of home networking, Step by Step Home Networking with Microsoft Windows XP covers networking types, XP's new Network Setup Wizard, and other related topics. Coming in at only 150 pages, this title should cost considerably less than its $24.99 asking price, but if you're just interested in getting connected to the Internet, sharing that connection, and perhaps sharing printers and files between two or more computers, Step by Step Home Networking will get you started.

One thing that is covered adequately, however, is connecting XP to non-XP machines, such as Windows 98 boxes and Macs. Given the networking differences between XP and its predecessors, understanding the gotchas and workarounds to this kind of set up is crucial for many people.

Note that intermediate and advanced users should look elsewhere.

--Paul Thurrott
November 27, 2001

 


 

 

 
  Windows XP Professional Administrator's Pocket Consultant
by William R. Stanek
Microsoft Press, 2001

$19.99
Target Audience: IT Professionals
Extras: Small form factor offers maximum portability

Aimed at IT professionals who will be administering XP Pro in mixed Windows environments, the Administrator's Pocket Consultant is a handy, small-format guide for getting answers quickly. It's not a hand-holding XP walkthrough but rather a series of reference chapters that focus on specific facets of this new OS, including configuration and optimization, core administration tasks, networking, and recovery. For anyone stuck and in need of immediate answers, this book could be a lifesaver.

One small caveat: The author notes that this title is meant to be used in conjunction with the upcoming Windows .NET Server  Administrator's Pocket Consultant, which will cover such topics as directory services administration and the like. However, most administrators today will be better served with the Windows 2000 Server version of this title, which is available today. Just note that the XP book here focuses solely on user and desktop administration issues and doesn't deal with the server at all. Granted, this is a wide open topic anyway, with plenty to cover.

I recommend this title to all Windows administrators who are adding XP to their networks.

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