Windows 7 QuickSteps marks a coming of age with the popular QuickSteps series. Although author Martin Matthews has retained the easy-going style and approach that are the hallmark of QuickSteps books, Windows 7 is bound to appeal to both the new user and seasoned Windows professional users.
This is an intense, concentrated documentation that someone who bought their first notebook at an electronics store is bound to sleep with under their pillow--if they can sleep at all with the introduction of Windows' sleek, but hardly intuitive new interface. The book is modular--it's much easier to find your topic of interest with the Table of contents than using the book's index--however, there is a logical sequence from fist pages onward. Chapters 1 and 2 introduce you to Win 7, covering the Desktop, Taskbar, the new Aero features such as task switching, and the invaluable essentials such as using a mouse, finding an application you're certain is on your system, and locating and managing files. From there, the book moves you onto customizing version 7 to suit your needs, and along the way revealing useful, unobvious features the user will certainly want to consider. If you're already a Windows Pro, you might want to pore through Chapter 2: features you're accustomed to from XP--particularly System Restore, how Control Panel is now arranged and categorized, how to turn on file extensions, and the Internet-style hierarchical structure of file displays--will make win 7 a dream come true instead of a nightmare.
Windows 7 QuickSteps then proceeds to "The Good Stuff". Every new users wants to hop on the `net, and Chapter 3 shows you how to configure your connection (both dial-up and high-speed, thank you!), access Internet Explorer, and offers sound advice for the new user about the joys and perils of surfing without firewall protection. We quickly move to setting up your email accounts and using Outlook Express, where Matthews takes the time and space to feed readers the settings they need to work through the dialog boxes. Before you know it, "You've got mail!"
The book spends an appropriately lavish amount of space on tasks, specifically, the tasks someone buys a home computer for: scanning is covered, as is burning a music CD, and movie editing--a feature Win 7 excels at with the new version of MovieMaker. You're not only told how to do things, but on several occasions why you'd want to do things, such as backing up your files and setting permissions for file sharing. You're also treated to a nodding glance at some of the "goodies" that come with Windows: games, a new, enhanced edition of MS-Paint, and utilities such as disk defragmentation--not as fun as playing Free Cell, but still a goodie.
Finally, the author covers networking with Windows 7, the physical type, not social. Every adult whose child has a computer in their bedroom will want to leverage the build-in capability to share files, remotely install things, and send email to Bobby to tell him to come down, it's supper time. Discussions of network cards, connectivity, and how to ensure win 7 recognizes your Intranet connection are clearly explained is succinct steps.
The only area Windows 7 QuickSteps would invite criticism is not an error of omission but due to the reality that this series has a limited page count. If a reader wants to quickly learn how an application works under Windows 7...well, that's a different book. Every application has its own tools, they're located in different places, certain programs don't access Win 7's standard folder and dialog boxes, some use Alt+F4 while other use Ctrl+Q to exit a program. Fortunately, The Matthews' have published numerous other books on popular software applications you might own. Looking at the big picture, however, you can always read the manual to an application to get the specifics, and largely this book keeps its namesake promise to show you how to make the most of the world's most popular operating system.
For users who just unpacked their Dell from Best Buy, Windows 7 QuickSteps will be the "missing manual" to their operating system. For seasoned experts, this book is a must-have quick reference guide. In either case, you'll be up, running, and productive using this book. Mr. Matthews should be as happy with this work as you will be.