on January 23, 2013
Windows 8 is radically different from any previous version of Windows. Much has been made of this (both in critique and praise), but the reality is Microsoft's flagship operating system will affect nearly everyone who uses a computer, whether you like it or not. Windows 8 Kickstart offers a comprehensive overview and reference in one volume. You can read it either as a replacement for the instruction manual that's been missing from Windows operating systems since 98 SE, or you can park it on your shelf as a much-needed reference guide for those times when you just can't figure out how to Get Windows 8 to print your report or play a DVD (note, both have changed significantly in the new OS).
I've used the preview version of Windows 8 and I'm no slouch when it comes to teaching myself a new operating system, but there were still things that I didn't know until I read them in this book. Microsoft has aimed for simplicity while combining both the touchscreen and keyboard/mouse interfaces. Because of that, some things just aren't intuitive for one of the use-cases. Having a guide is invaluable.
One of the things I appreciate most about this book is the honesty. It's not a shill-text for Redmond, there is critique of the OS, where appropriate, and praise where it's earned. You're not getting a sheep-blind infomercial for the latest Windows product; you're getting an honest evaluation of a new tool from a critical perspective. When there are flaws, they're pointed out and work-arounds are given.
Not only is this book packed with useful information, it's also visually compelling and helpful. Screenshots abound and there are quick reference keys throughout highlighting warnings, useful sidebars, and tricks. Whether you flip through this to find the specific information you need right now or browse the pages to become familiar with the entire operating system, Windows 8 Kickstart will be a helpful tool on your shelf.
on March 11, 2013
I have been building computers and playing with operating system settings since I was 10 years old. The first computer that I owned was given to me in a box with components scattered everywhere. By the end of the day, I had a working version of Windows 95. Since then, I have continued to play with operating systems, mess around with the configurations and learn the hard way by breaking and then trying to fix something I inadvertently screwed up. I now work in a technology field.
Windows Vista came out and the "Wow" was sparked more of an "Eh" in me. It didn't diverge much from the standard protocols for Windows and remained an intuitive operating system. When Windows 8 came out, I helped my father with a new laptop he purchased. He works in an electronics field and has plenty of experience with computers. It took more trial and error than I was used to just to figure out how to get a newly installed program to appear in Desktop Mode.
Since technology is a big part of my life, I appreciate it when I find something that clearly and quickly gets me up to. The book contains all the details you need, without burdening you with useless information. It was edited based on the final release of Windows 8 and includes information that many other books leave out. This not only results in other authors publishing an incomplete text, but an inaccurate one as well. I also appreciate that the book comes in a digital and paperback format with full color.
I agree with the other reviewer that some of the features of Windows 8 aren't intuitive. Trying to close a webcam after taking a picture or attempting to throw an application window down to the bottom of the screen takes a bit of instruction. The guide provides an easy to navigate Table of Contents that clearly outlines each chapter and an Index that makes it easy to find exactly what you need to know.
As we spend more time with our computers, it makes sense to have a handbook to make our lives easier and learn how to effectively use our operating system. The screenshots are plentiful and applicable to the task at hand. Screenshots are placed in a way that enhances the text. Images do what they should - they serve a purpose.
The book doesn't consist of blind praise for Microsoft. Issues do exist with Windows 8 and there are improvements needed. This book not only shows you how to get around those issues, but also provides an honest critique with laser-sharp vision that cuts straight to the heart of the issue or task at hand.
on February 10, 2013
So lets be honest, Windows 8 can be strange to new users to Windows or existing users that are new to Windows 8. Windows 8 Kickstart is a great way to get started with the Operating System.
I can not comment on the delivery aspect as I was sent a Free review copy from the publisher.
The book itself is high quality and is in full colour, unlike many other text books available. This makes the screenshots included more useful as you can see exactly what you would expect to see on screen in the book. It also allows warnings and "Technical" material to stand out from the rest of the page. At the start of the book is a comprehensive Table of Contents for the book which will be useful to anyone who wishes to use the book as a go-to guide for when they are having problems.
The content of the book makes it a priceless addition, it is like a Map to your new computer Operating System and covers everything that you could possibly need from pairing a Bluetooth device to playing Solitaire. The book also covers programs that many people are likely to use such as Microsoft Office. It doesn't however show you what to install to do xyz. If that is what you want this isn't what you are looking for. This is a guide to using the operating system as it comes and many people will benefit from this due to the sheer amount of change that have been made in a short time period.
The balance between all of the sections is good and it is to the point, no overly long explanations or pages full of jargon. It tells you what you need to do in Human friendly, numbered steps that allows the least "geeky" of users to get started quickly, easily and most importantly with out frustration.
If you are thinking of buying a new computer with Windows 8 or are upgrading to Windows 8 (Or already have done) then this book will be very useful in both short and long term and you will not be disappointed!
on February 19, 2013
I must confess. I was one of the (many) who'd said, Windows 8? Nope, not me. I like how I'm doing things now. With Windows 7. The publisher sent me a free copy of Windows 8 Kickstart, so the opportunity to see how Windows 8 works was just too tempting. Presto! I jumped in, headfirst, down a rabbit hole and into a wonderland. I had to test my hypothesis that I wouldn't like Windows 8. I was wrong. This book has changed my mind. And it might change yours, too.
Overall: Written for the novice computer user as well as the expert user. James Russell's writing is clear, crisp and straightforward. The book is extremely well organized in an organic, intuitive way. Consumers who usually find `How to use software' books intimidating, complex or not the right fit for their learning style will find James Russell's Windows 8 Kickstart an excellent fit.
Organization: The book is divided into three parts. Part I gets the reader oriented to Windows 8's main features. Part II lets the reader explore more of the features they'll want to use, once the reader feels comfortable navigating Windows 8's basics. Part III features advanced productivity tools. Russell shows the reader what's the same as in Windows 7, what has moved (and where), and he offers tips, tricks and more to help the reader.
Conventions: Helpful conventions throughout the book include: a sidebar called `Now You Know' that provides a deeper insight on a topic or on how to accomplish a task. Tips are well - Tips -- the bread and butter of any good guide book. If Tips are the bread and butter, then Notes are the accoutrements to Tips. The Notes discuss additional information, background steps (very, very important!!) or hardware or software requirements. And, of course, the Caution tip, in yellow, is an exclamation point inscribed in a triangle, which will help you prevent pitfalls -- kind of like skiing a black diamond trail that lets you know where not to ski.
Passphrases: This will surprise you. You've spent decades creating passwords - passwords, passwords, even more passwords and strong passwords. Now hear this! Passwords are becoming obsolete, the author says, with `pass phrases' becoming the new security trick. This makes sense, because a phrase of four unconnected words, Russell says, is more difficult for computers to guess than a single password. Russell provides a clever example: `'bottle shirt smoke cat.''
Bundling: I really like that my fave social media sites are bundled with Windows 8, which are Facebook, Twitter, Skype, plus of course, the full range of Bing products (maps, search, weather) Xbox games and SkyDrive cloud storage, plus of course, Windows-based app stores. With such a radical departure from Windows 7, this bundling feature encourages users to stop hyperventilating, and just sit down and use Windows 8.
Don't Cry I: The taskbar, system tray, desktop and Recycle Bin didn't go far. They're still there. Instead of a Start menu, you've got a Start screen. Just tap the Start button, and presto! You're at the Start screen. This brings up Charms. Granted, Charms make me think of colored, flavored cereal, elves and good luck, but hey, that's not a bad thing. Charms are easy to summon - yes, you summon them. There are five Charms: Search, Start, Share, Devices and Settings. Windows 8 has hot three spots, the second of which is the Task Switcher, which is the Windows 8 taskbar. Details like this become obvious (and useful) when you have Windows 8 right in front of you. You can also see all your apps on one page. Convenient!
Don't Cry II: You cry: "My keyboard. I miss my keyboard." It's not like your BFF or your boyfriend (or girlfriend) suddenly up and left you. Or your keyboard. It's there. Onscreen. "My files!" You cry. With File Explorer, you can navigate to them! And you have Control Panel. You just have to summon it. You can configure and customize, move tiles, and personalize your PC settings. You can have themes. And more. The more I read of Russell's book, the more I realize that Windows 8 isn't an entirely new universe, a totally new creature, a new language or even a different culture - it is a visual method of organizing what you (more or less) already organize in Windows 7. The book is just that intuitive.
To Sum Up: In Part I, you become acquainted with the basics. You get your feet wet and discover that the temperature seems just fine. In Part II, you explore tiles, media and apps. You play with Windows 8, and discover it seems less like a stranger and more like a friend you want to hang with. In Part III, you see the range of productivity features Windows 8 offers, and you see, that yes! Windows 8 works.
I totally recommend this book. If you buy only one book for Windows 8, buy this one. Even though I was advanced a free copy from the publisher, I also bought the Kindle version. Totally recommend this book.
on May 10, 2013
Having done tech support on Windows, OS X, and Linux for over ten years, you find yourself answering the same sorts of questions. With most introductory computer books, I find my eyes glazing over, since it's material I already know. Russell's book on Windows 8, though, doesn't just present the same material for a different operating system, but demonstrates how to use an OS that's a complete departure from other versions of Windows. Another detail that sets his book apart from others is that he doesn't assume you're using a keyboard and mouse, since Windows 8 can also be run on tablet computers, a detail that helps introduce readers to the underlying design principle of Windows 8.
The first (and largest) chunk of the book details how to do setup and basic usage tasks. However, the bulk of the material about Windows 8 is contained in this section, so shouldn't be skipped. The tasks grow from basic to complex, and Russell details how to change just about every feature of Windows 8.
The second part describes various applications, now called "apps" and other fun things to do in Windows 8. Russell shows the user how to use the Windows Store for apps, then describes a number of useful (and fun) programs the average user would want to know about. As a hardcore gamer, I appreciated knowing that some of my favorite games would run in Windows 8.
The last part discusses productivity, for when you have to get back to work after playing with all your shiny new games. Specifically, the first part of the section discusses printing, configuring printing, and tweaking printing in Windows 8. Other sections mentioned are productivity software, and briefly Office 2013, which is another departure from earlier versions.
Russell's book is one that will teach both beginner and expert, alike. Even I--a long-time Linux user--found something interesting about Windows 8.
on April 4, 2013
To be honest, Windows 8 leaves many users in a perpetual state of "huh?" "Is it supposed to be a PC or a tablet?" is a common question, and the answer is, well, both. Microsoft wanted the newest version of Windows to be accessible on cutting-edge touch-capable devices, but it didn't want to leave technologically reluctant users in the cold, either. So Windows 8 contains both the Metro-style touch (and mouse-capable) interface, as well as Desktop mode, with which Windows 7 users will be immediately familiar. This dual interface is confusing at first, especially without a capable guide; This is where James Russell comes to your rescue.
Russell takes both beginner and advanced users through this remarkable system with concise and easy-to-follow instructions. The language is neither heavy or boring, so a cover-to-cover read won't leave you staring blankly into space. Quite the opposite, actually. As a 16-year veteran of the technology field, the book opened my eyes in unfamiliar territories. I found myself saying, "wow, that's cool...I didn't know you could do that" on numerous occasions, as I continued to hungrily flip through the pages.
Some additional features I personally liked was the ample illustrations, which are immensely helpful for visual learners, such as myself. They give a visual exploration of the system to familiarize users who might not even have Windows 8 currently. I've found these illustrations serve well for a quick reference, especially when you're already vaguely familiar with a procedure. I also appreciated the inclusion of shortcut-keys to aide navigation using your keyboard. For someone that started out when a "mouse" was simply a small rodent, keyboard navigation is a habit that's hard to break.
I strongly recommend this book for anyone ready to take the leap into Windows 8, those who feel they're over their heads on a new Windows 8 system or those who simply want to learn the smaller details.
on April 2, 2013
Windows 8 is, perhaps, the largest UI overhaul Microsoft's ever done to its consumer operating system. As such, it can be extremely confusing for users - especially those who have been using Windows 7 for a long time. The lack of familiar UI elements and affordances only increases confusion and can leave many users feeling bewildered. Russell's Windows 8 Kickstart is a great resource, both as an introduction for those unfamiliar to Windows 8 and as a reference when questions arise. It expertly assists users as they first encounter Windows 8, begin to use it, become familiar with it, and then master it.
The chapters and sections are laid out very understandably, allowing for quick scanning to the relevant section for users. It's written clearly and concisely, giving the details needed for efficient reading without superfluous details. The diagrams, screenshots, and key points are well-selected and make understanding the content trivial for novice as well as expert users.
In particular, I loved that the sections labeled for tasks users wish to accomplish. This puts the book in the frame of reference of users and their tasks, making them the focus and the question in their mind the front and center. Too many computer help books seem focused on the product itself, explaining its features and functionality without taking the needs of users into account. Not so in this book: it's written from the perspective of another user, and as such is honest and human, even noting where the UI can be confusing or unintuitive.
The overall book is structured very well with regards to how users encounter Windows 8. It begins with a gentle yet helpful introduction to the basic functionality and system. Then it continues, in Part 2, with some of the customization and viewing features that are so important to successful use. In Part 3, it takes users to expert usage levels, helping them to be more effective using the OS for work and play. Overall, I'd absolutely recommend this book as a great resource for learning and using Windows 8.
on August 21, 2013
If you use Windows 8, this is a must-have book. Full of great information, it is the one reference you can depend on daily while learning all the ins and outs of Windows 8. Easy to read, easy to follow and the diagrams and photos really help a lot. With the help of this book, I learned how to use Win8 more efficiently and become more productive with the operating system. As a former Windows 7 users, the book helped me learn ways to use Windows 8 in ways I was already accustomed to - that alone was worth the price of the book. For me, the new File Explorer was just so different from Windows Explorer that I had problems navigating to some of the more advanced features. The Win8 Kickstart book helped me a lot with the chapter on File Explorer, and I still refer to it often when I cant remember where things are.
on July 21, 2013
Windows 8's release was met with mixed reviews. many people confused by the sudden change in design from the standard Start menu desktop. This book puts some of these fears to rest. It is incredibly helpful, covering everything from the setup process to all the new options and features. It explains everything about the new app screen and has plenty of pictures to help guide you along, but it's still all quite simple and easy to absorb.
What I like about this is that was written from an objective viewpoint and has no desire or attempt to sell Windows 8. Instead it looks at all the changes and new features and explains what they are and how to use them, categorized in a way that covers basics first and the more nifty customizable features later.
This book is a welcome read to anyone, whether they be new to Windows entirely or simply want a handy guide to make sure they're all up to date on how Windows 8 works. Its simplistic style takes a lot of the anxiety out of trying something new, it's professionally done and written by someone who clearly knows his stuff.
If you're thinking about upgrading to Windows 8 or want to figure out how to use your new operating system, this is definitely the right guide.
on April 3, 2013
I recently picked this up at a local retailer and it greatly helped my family with their new Win8 laptop. The full color content blew away all other content on the shelf, highly recommended.