Here’s the long and the short of it, and the big and the semi-little.
Microsoft Press recently has released two helpful new books focusing on the features of Windows 7. One book, a hardback, weighs nearly five pounds and has 1,323 pages. The other, a paperback that weighs nine ounces and has 194 pages, is supposed to fit in a pocket and does, if it’s a pocket in a big coat.
The books are: Windows 7 Inside Out Deluxe Edition by Ed Bott, Carl Siechert, and Craig Stinson (hardback, list price $59.99; Kindle, list price $47.99) and Optimizing Windows 7 Pocket Consultant by William R. Stanek (paperback, list price $24.99; Kindle, list price $19.99).
If you use Windows 7 in business or at home on an at least semi-serious basis, you may want to consider getting at least one of these books, maybe both. The same goes if you are studying to be a Windows expert or if you have just been saddled with the job of managing a bunch of computers running Windows 7 in a corporate or small-business setting.
The big book is an excellent desk reference (as well as physical workout accessory), and the small one can be tossed into a laptop bag, briefcase or carry-on travel bag. The cover binding on the big book appears to be underpowered, so be prepared to handle this book with the same care you might give a big dictionary or encyclopedia intended for long-term use. (For the next edition, Microsoft Press may want to consider a tougher binding system for the book and cover.)
Windows 7 Inside Out Deluxe Edition is organized in six parts, 31 chapters and seven appendices. The parts are:
- 1. Getting Started
- 2. File Management
- 3. Digital Media
- 4. Security and Networking
- 5. Tuning, Tweaking, and Troubleshooting
- 6. Windows 7 and PC Hardware
The appendixes are:
- A. Windows 7 Editions at a Glance
- B. Working with the Command Prompt
- C. Fixes Included in Windows 7 Service Pack 1
- D. Windows 7 Certifications
- E. Some Useful Accessory Program
The goal for Windows 7 Inside Out Deluxe Edition is to provide “a well-rounded look at the features most people use in Windows.” As with most other works from Microsoft Press, this book has numerous illustrations, practical tips and how-to descriptions, and it offers a good index.
One Inside Out tip, for example, explains why Windows 7 won’t let you run more than one antivirus program but why you can run more than one anti-spyware package if you really feel you need to.
The book includes a CD that offers Windows PowerShell scripts, a handy (and infinitely lighter) eBook version of the hardback, and additional resources.
Meanwhile, Optimizing Windows 7 Pocket Consultant, also assumes that you have a little experience with Windows. It is aimed at users, information managers, administrators, help desk personnel “and others who support the operating system,” as well as application developers.
The book’s focus is centered on showing you how to tune and optimize Windows 7 for best performance in your setting and usage.
Optimizing Windows 7 Pocket Consultant has eight chapters, plus one appendix titled “Firmware Interface Options.” The chapters are:
- 1. Customizing the Windows Interface
- 2. Personalizing the Appearance of Windows 7
- 3. Customizing Boot, Startup, and Power Options
- 4. Organizing, Searching, and Indexing
- 5. Optimizing Your Computer’s Software
- 6. Tracking System Performance and Health
- 7. Analyzing and Logging Performance
- 8. Optimizing Performance Tips and Techniques
Stanek’s book delivers numerous helpful hints that range from making better use of your start menu to fine-tuning automatic updates, fine-tuning virtual memory and enhancing performance.
For example: “To reduce the performance impact related to reading and writing the system cache from virtual memory, you can configure your computer to uses Windows ReadyBoost.” That feature, Stanek notes, “lets you extend the disk-caching capabilities of the computer’s main memory to a USB flash device that has at least 256 MB of high-speed flash memory.”
Many new Windows 7 users — and many experienced ones, as well — likely will rate these two books as “keepers” for their technical libraries.
– Si Dunn