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A thorough guide that doesn't have to be intimidating PLUS Free Ebook Copy With Print Version
on November 30, 2012
The Windows 8 Inside Out isn't going to be for everyone, or it won't all be for everyone, but that doesn't mean it's not a great guide. It contains some information perfect for beginners and some that is so specialized that it may only appeal to 5% of all readers. I'd recommend that you come in with at least a little knowledge of an older version of windows if you want this book to be hassle free, but beyond that don't be intimidated by the upper end knowledge in this book. Having a few topics that you don't understand or have no interest in learning about won't take away from the more basic information that the book provides.
The book itself is divided into 5 major sections (Getting Started, File Management, Music Videos Tv and Movies, Security and Privacy, and Networking). For many users, the getting started section may be the only section that fully applies to you. If you don't care about being a power user and milking your machine for every last bit of speed I'd read the getting started section and then skim the table of contents or index for other things that interest you. Intermediate users will probably use the first few chapters in each section, but the chapters seem to get more obscure after that and probably won't apply for a majority of people.
For example Part 3 (Music, videos, tv, and movies) starts off with Chapter 14, "Music and Videos." It includes a good overview of the built in music app, managing play lists, copying CDs, editing videos with Movie Maker, etc (all conceivably things that a normal user would want to do). Part 3 ends with a chapter on creating a home theater PC. I've recently become a little bit of a home theater junkie and I thought it was an interesting and informative section to browse just in case I want to take the leap some time in the near future, but most people have no interest in integrating a PC into their living room TV setup.
It seems that all of the sections are set up this way and I for one like it. I'll read until I hit a topic or a level that either doesn't apply to me or I don't have the computer background to understand and then I'll stop, scan the table of contents and move on. Putting complex topics near the end of each section means that I don't have to jump around as much as I might if the topics were mixed without regard for complexity or obscurity.
The layout of the headings, tips and tricks boxes (called "inside out" boxes), and graphics is quite good which makes finding what you're looking for easy. I do wish that the publisher had opted for color graphics and headings if only because they're a little nicer to look at and are a little easier for me to quickly identify if I'm flipping through pages, but its not a huge deal.
What is a huge deal (and a huge plus) in terms of publisher choices was the decision to include access to a free ebook copy and several free online help videos with the print copy. I love the feel of a physical book, but the ebook is great because it's searchable. When I look at a giant manual one of the most important factors in buying is the index and table of contents because if you don't plan on reading the whole book, having a good way to find specific topics is imperative. But no matter how good an index is there are always a few "slang" terms that the author may have used in the book, but hasn't put in the index. Having a fully searchable digital copy fixes that. The ebook is also nice because it links you directly to the online videos. The videos provide a slightly different teaching style which seemed to help me understand concepts quicker than when I read the book without them. They cover many of the same topics as the text in the book and the links to them are included in those sections. If you're reading the ebook you can be watching the video in just one click and back to the book the click after that. I've found that this makes my whole learning experience less stressful because its not an extra ordeal to take a look at the extra help. The result is that I access it sooner than I would if I had to put down the book, launch a browser, type an address, etc so I spend less time frustrated and more time learning.
Overall I think this is a well put together book (and accompanying videos/ebook). It's got some complex topics and assumes that you have at least a little windows background so its probably not the book I would buy grandma to help her get going on her first computer, but it is the book I would look to as my easily searchable reference that covers the topics I need today and the things I don't even know exist yet for tomorrow.