To call this short manual a beginners book would be to use the term lightly... it is to tech manuals what "One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish" would be to "War And Peace". From the technical standpoint, I felt that I was going to suffer an aneurism just flipping through it. But, from the standpoint of a beginner to Windows XP (or any other Windows Operating System for that matter), it is definitely a good place to start.
At an extremely stretched-out 58 pages of screenshots and short descriptions, it is definitely in the category of getting what one pays for. The nice point to this book is the aforementioned screenshots accompanying every page. This book is for those who are technically inept and unfamiliar with the various terms that are involved in navigating around ones computer (such as desktop, toolbar, task manager, and "power button").
Diving strait into the technical mumbo-jumbo, it walks you through navigating your way around the desktop and it's linked Start Menu. After walking the user through the dumbed-down basics, it starts off on the more 'advanced' features introduced into Windows... the Firewall and System Restore. Now, explaining the Firewall is great from the standpoint of a user on a fresh install of XP, but since most of the settings have changed with the release of XP Service Pack #2, some of this has since become outdated. Now, the System Restore is something that all users should know exists, and know exactly how to use it. A lot of tech support calls and reformats could be prevented in advance with this sort of knowledge, and for that I commend the authors.
Some of the other advanced coverings in this book are the "Event Viewer", used for tracking any problems and system messages that have popped up on the system, the Disk Defragmenter, used for sorting and compacting system clusters, Windows Automatic Update (Thank whatever Deity you want for this... too many computer users out there are oblivious to the concept of security patches and updates), and brief suggestions of Anti-Virus through way of the Security Center.
What is missing, and I noticed this right away, is also one of the more ingenious additions to the Windows Operating System with XP... The Remote Assistance Console. What's that? Well, in simple terms, it's a way to send a "call for help" to an online friend and let them fix your computer from the comfort of their own PC. In some more advanced terminology, it's a Remote Desktop Session... but no matter what you want to call it, it's a blessing to both the inept user, and the technical troubleshooter (meaning, it's a lifesaver no matter what end of the keyboard you are on).
All in all, how would I grade this book? From the standpoint of a beginner, I would toss it a point for every dollar... on a scale of 10, it would make it to 5. From the standpoint of a tech though, the exchange rate would not be so kind and it would only work out to a 3.5 (I notice as I glance on the back cover that Americans pay $5 as well as Canadians... so someone's math seems to be a little off).
In closing, if you want a quickie manual on how to turn the PC on and work out how to find your folders, this is the book for you. But from experience, the only thing that can replace the manual, is an even bigger manual. Shortening down something as complex as computer management is like taking the steering wheel out of a car to save space... it just won't work the same.
"The book for people who hate to read the manual". In my opinion, stick to the manual.